Local series shows true grit

Homegrown ‘The Docket’ on the case with fictional South African crime stories expected to enthrall

A scene from SABC3's new crime drama series, ‘The Docket’. Actors, from left, are Ashish Gangapersad (Detective Terry Jahib), Brendon Engelbrecht (Detective Neil Hall), Duncan Johnson (Colonel Marlon van Wyk) and Hlubi Mboya (Detective Ntsiki Motshe).
A scene from SABC3's new crime drama series, ‘The Docket’. Actors, from left, are Ashish Gangapersad (Detective Terry Jahib), Brendon Engelbrecht (Detective Neil Hall), Duncan Johnson (Colonel Marlon van Wyk) and Hlubi Mboya (Detective Ntsiki Motshe).
Image: Supplied

A home-grown CSI-type series with a big dollop of true grit is coming to TV screens next month thanks to Mthatha-born producer Helen Smit.

The Docket follows a fictional South African high-profile crime fighting unit, The Ravens. It will premiere on SABC3 on August 22 at 9.30pm and had the cast, crew and SABC3 team cheering at their new show reveal event in Johannesburg this week.

Each of the 13 episodes is inspired by true events, with the first drawing inspiration from the notorious hijacking and murder of reggae star Lucky Dube in 2007.

SABC3’s general manager of television David Makubyane said The Docket was one of the most exciting new additions to the channel. “What makes The Docket so relevant is that it deals with crime and justice in a local context. It is an investigative drama with an excellent production value and we can’t wait for the premiere,” Makubyane said.

Smit said: “It started out as my little brainchild, but this show has been made possible by the hard work, talent and creativity of everyone involved. The cast and crew did an amazing job and I hope that audiences resonate with the show and enjoy watching it as much as we’ve enjoyed creating.”

Smit grew up in the former Transkei, was schooled in Somerset East and later attended Rhodes University where she studied drama.

Joining the SABC in 1984, Smit has long been passionate about creating and telling stories, gaining more than two decades of experience and now working for Clive Morris Productions, whose team directed and filmed the show.

Her interest in gender dynamics and dedication to telling stories that are relevant to the South African public is what inspired the conceptualisation of The Docket.

“I wanted to create something that was centred around a strong female and male character who butt heads as the female attempts to navigate a male-dominated profession such as policing,” Smit said.

The series sees local actors Hlubi Mboya (Captain Ntsiki Motshe), Duncan Johnson (Colonel Marlon van Wyk), Ashish Gangapersad (Detective Terry Jahib) and Brandon Engelbrecht (Detective Neil Hall) work together to bring justice to victims of campus rapes, farm murders, and cyber crimes.

“Hlubi and Duncan were excellent as the central characters. The show also explores the intra-personal relationships of the team and the entire cast really took to their roles, unpacking and unfolding each character’s story through their performance,” Smit said.

Van Wyk said his character as a dark, lonely, pessimistic single father.

“I think he’s just a realist. He is a profiler by profession having to get into the minds of criminals and find what makes them tick,” he said.

Co-star Engelbrecht said his experience working with the cast and crew of The Docket shaped him as an actor as he learned not only from his co-stars, but also from the production crew.

“This was my first experience in a lead role and I grew so much from it,” he said.

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