BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
THE film industry has been robbed of a promising actress and film producer Anne Nhira, famed for her starring role as Vimbai Jari in the yesteryear soap Studio 263, after she was stabbed during a robbery in South Africa on Monday.
Nhira, who was based in Johannesburg, was mugged on Monday and died yesterday morning.
Her brother Juan said Anne succumbed to injuries sustained during a robbery in Bedfordview, Johannesburg in South Africa.
“She sustained injuries on the chest, rib cage and back during a robbery on Monday afternoon,” Juan said.
He added: “A beautiful flower ripped way from us before her time yet again. Does death ever stop? Armed gunman took her life away. Dear God, is there an end to this?”
Details of her burial were still sketchy at the time of going to print last night, but family sources said her body was expected in Harare on Saturday.
She became popular in the local soap opera Studio 263 which was based on everyday life situations — portraying issues to do with HIV and Aids, abstaining from sex, stigma and discrimination of people infected with the virus.
In the soap, Nhira played the character of a responsible young woman with big dreams coming from a poor family before realising that her father was a prosperous businessman.
Former Finance deputy minister Terrence Mukupe said Nhira died while at a prayer mountain.
“I am happy though that you lost your life at the prayer mountain, so your heart was in a good place,” Mukupe said.
South African police were by yesterday yet to comment on the death.
Nhira starred in the star-studded Studio 263 soap opera that also featured the likes of Zanu PF legislator Tatenda Mavetera, as her sister who was finding it difficult to find a footing in life after high school and was impregnated by Ernest Kenge, a character played by Dylan Wilson. Anne was big sister on the soap to Jabu Jari (Denzel Burutsa) and Angie.
Her rich career saw her being nominated lead actress on South African film The Rapist in 2013.
That same year, she featured in a joint South African and Zimbabwean soapie Ndafunga Dande. The soap opera portrayed the lives of Zimbabweans in the diaspora and the challenges they faced and opportunities got.
She was part of a panel of judges at the 2013 Miss Zimbabwe/South Africa and in 2014, she had a role in one of South Africa’s biggest soap operas Zabalaza, which shows on MNet and Sadc.
She also featured in a South African television drama called Mutual Friends and in an attempt to show her versatility, Nhira tried her hand in music in 2013 when she released a single, The One.
Social media platforms were yesterday inundated with condolence messages from fellow actors, producers and artistes among others. Those who spoke to NewsDay Life & Style described Nhira’s death as a great loss to the film industry.
Tatenda Mavetera (Tendai Jari)
Award-winning actress-turned-Zanu PF Seke-Chikomba proportional representation MP Tatenda Mavetera, who played the character Tendai Jari as a sister to Nhira in Studio 263, said the late actress’ life story was inspiring to many women.
“This is so devastating, Anne Nhira was a soft and kind-hearted person. I worked with her and she was a sister on set and offset. She was so loving and caring such that she could take your problems as hers,” she said.
“We have lost an actress par excellence and only God knows why she had to die such a painful death. The film industry will never be the same without Anne Nhira as she had that love of making sure that acting is taken to another level.”
Ben Mahaka (Tom Mbambo)
Award-winning actor, director and producer Ben Mahaka, who also worked with Nhira on Studio 263 playing the character Tom Mambo, described her as a woman determined to write her own story.
“My dear Anne, Vimbai wangu, I watched you grow from a shy young woman to a national icon in the arts industry.
“For years, you struggled to reconcile the disconnect between celebrity and poverty, but you fought your way out and into the business world,” he said.
“You were talented, fiercely independent, hot-tempered, adventurous — a woman determined to write her own story. Your story has been savagely cut short, but you will live on in our hearts for many years. I am heartbroken. Rest in peace.”
Stephen Chigorimbo (John Huni)
Veteran actor and filmmaker Stephen Chigorimbo, who played the character John Huni in the soap, described Nhira as a hardworking and talented girl.
“Very, very sad day for the film community. Anne Nhira was a hardworking girl, who was talented and a breath of fresh air in the industry. We have been robbed of a shining star. May her soul rest in the peace of God. My heartfelt condolences to the family,” he said.
Executive producer of popular soap opera Wenera, Eddie Ndhlovu said the film industry had lost a talented actoress.
“The passing of Anne is shocking. It is very sad and painful to hear that one of the pioneering actresses of the new millennium through Studio 263 and such a good actor has gone too early,” he said.
“It is definitely a loss to the film industry to lose such good talent so soon. We were expecting to see her back on screen soon and she had a lot more to do, but I guess God has his own plans. My heartfelt condolences to family and friends, may her soul rest in eternal peace.”
Former model and founder of Zim Gossip Models Agency Mercy “Catwalk” Mushaninga said: “My first meeting with Anne aka Vimbai was at the Face of Chitungwiza auditions. We invited her as a chief judge, she was soft spoken, humble and had experience in both industries, modelling and acting. Ndakadzidza zvakawanda (I learnt a lot) by just spending a few hours with her. May her soul rest in peace.”
- Follow Winstone on Twitter @widzoanto