Presley Chweneyagae

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Presley Chweneyagae
Presley Chweneyagae-HAT.jpg
Born Presley Oageng Chweneyagae
(1984-10-19) October 19, 1984 (age 34)
Mafikeng, North West
South Africa
  • Actor
  • Producer
Years active 2004 - to date
Notable work Tsotsi

Presley Chweneyagae (born October 1984) is a South African film, television and stage actor, producer and director. He starred in a Gavin Hood directed landmark South African film, Tsotsi, as the title character. The film went on to win an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 78th Academy Awards held at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, United States of America.

In 2006 Presley Chweneyagae appeared in the SABC 1 mini-series When We Were Black. He starred in the fifth season of the SABC 2 political drama series, 90 Plein Street, as Chief of Staff Andile Grootboom. Presley Chweneyagae in the 1Magic telenovela, The River as Cobra with Sindi Dlathu, Hlomla Dandala, Lawrence Maleka, Lunga Shabalala, Moshidi Motshegwa and newcomer Larona Moagi. In 2017 he starred in the TV series, iNumber Number (TV Series)iNumber Number, which is developed from the Donovan Marsh film of the same name.


Presley Chweneyagae, in 2005 lesser known at the time, protrayed the title character in a Gavin Hood directed film, title character. The film became an instant classing and a subject of universal critical praise. While the film had established actors such as Jerry Mofokeng, Nambitha Mpumlwana, Ian Roberts, Thembi Nyandeni, Rapulana Seiphemo and Israel Makoe; it was Presley Chweneyagae performance up which the film's success hinged.

The critics quipped, "Chweneyagae's powerful performance carries this simple yet searing tale of a shantytown prostitute redemption."

Post-Tsotsi Career

Presley Chweneyagae revealed that he had opportunities to go to Hollywood but turned than down due to the volatile nature of the film industry.

"My life obviously changed after we won the Oscar. I got calls from around the world and there was a lot of interest. I would send audition tapes across and sometimes hear back. I could have gone to LA, but without anything concrete, I didn't want to rush off and then end up broke and homeless in LA. It happens all too often," Presley Chweneyagae told Times LIVE.

Presley Chweneyagae spoke of the permanent impression his portrayal of Tsotsi made that he is still struggling to shake it off. "I would do a number of roles that were different to Tsotsi to show my versatility but my role on Tsotsi stuck. You could say it overshadowed the rest of my career, but I am an actor who thrives off doing different roles, so I tried not to get too frustrated by it," he told Times LIVE.

Other Films

Presley Chweneyagae starred in the 2007 historical film More Than Just a Game alongside Wright Ngubeni, Tshepo Maseko, Louis Minnaar and Sizwe Msutu. In 2009 he directed, produced and starred in the film, Menda City with Tsotsi, Zenzo Ngqobe. In 2010 he starred opposite Fana Mokoena and Vusi Kunene in the South African film, State of Violence (2010)State of Violence and appeared in the film, Africa United.

In 2011 he played Sipho in the Zimbabwean film The Gentleman with Munya Chidzonga, Faith Chibale and Wanisai Chawatama as Young Tawana / Takunda. In 2012 he starred as Joseph Phiri in Zama Zama with Lindani Nkosi, Khulu Skenjana and Israel Makoe. In 2013 he featured in the biographical drama chronicling the life of former political prisoner turned president turned world icon, Nelson Mandela, in the Anant Singh produced Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom which starred Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela and Naomie Harris as Winnie Madikizela with Tony Kgoroge as Walter Sisulu, Riaad Moosa as Ahmed Kathrada Sello Maake as Inkosi Albert Luthuli.

Also in 2013 Presley Chweneyagae starred in the Donovan Marsh critically acclaimed film, iNumber Number (also released as Avenged (2013)Avenged in other regions. The film also starred Sdumo Mtshli, Owen Sejake and Israel Makoe as well as Warren Masemola and Hlubi Mboya. The film, iNumber Number, marked a third collaboration between Israel Makoe and Presley Chweneyagae - who first worked together on Tsotsi when Presley Chweneyagae was 21 years old.

In 2017 he starred in The Number opposite Deon Lotz, Mothusi Magano and Warren Masemola.

Personal Life

Presley Chweneyagae has a son named Siyabulela Somfula with his former girlfriend Nobelungu Somfula from Mmabatho in the North West.

Legal Troubles

Presley Chweneyagae faced legal troubles early on in his career. The legal troubles were emanating from his activities outside of his then fledgling film career.

Fake Driver's Licence

On 23 January 2007 Presley Chweneyagae arrested on the charge of fraud for driving a motor vehicle using a fake Ivorian driver’s licence doctored to look like an international driver’s licence. He appeared at the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court and pleaded guilty to a charge of fraud. He was given a fine of R5 000 or six months’ imprisonment. His lawyer at the time told the court, "He was made an offer [of buying the licence] and he succumbed to the temptation; now he is being punished for that," Presley Chweneyagae defence lawyer, Shane Lowley.

State prosecutor Matthews Rampyapedi told the court, "He is a danger on the roads and the situation might have caused a disaster in the future, especially since we have high statistics of accidents on the roads".

Magistrate Estelle Biljon said upon hand down the sentence, "I regard the crime committed serious as it involves an element of dishonesty, but I understand that the act committed was not premeditated". She added that she accepted the Presley Chweneyagae’s feelings of remorse and acknowledged that he did not have a criminal record.

Presley Chweneyagae for his actions after the court proceedings, "I want to say sorry to all my fans, friends and family. I’m only human and sometimes people make mistakes. I just want to say sorry to all South Africans and I want other people to learn from my mistakes."

In the aftermath a man known as "Ali" (real name, Keita Tidiane - 35 years old at the time), from Côte d’Ivoire, was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to 10 charges of fraud.

Child Maintenance

Presley Chweneyagae’s ex-girlfriend (Nobelungu Somfula) launched a court action against him over failure to pay child maintenance of his then seven-month-old son. At the time Nobelungu Somfula told the Saturday Star that Presley Chweneyagae had only given her R500 twice.


  1. Information Cradle, Presley Chweneyagae Biography, Filmography, 30 November 2018
  2. TVSA, Presley Chweneyagae, 30 November 2018
  3. Encyclopedia, Presley Chweneyagae, 30 November 2018
  4. IMDb, Presley Chweneyagae Biography, 30 November 2018
  5. Channel24/ Drum, 5 things you didn’t know about The River’s Presley Chweneyagae, 30 November 2018
  6. Red Live, What happened to Presley Chweneyagae AKA Tsotsi, 30 November 2018
  7. Mail & Guardian, Girlfriend of Tsotsi star launches court action, 30 November 2018
  8. News24, Tsotsi star in court again, 30 November 2018
  9. IOL, Tsotsi star shows true colours, 30 November 2018
  10. Mail & Guardian, Star of Tsotsi pleads guilty to fraud, 30 November 2018
  11. News24, Tsotsi families over the moon, 30 November 2018