Vusi Kunene

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Vusi Kunene
Vusi- -Kunene.JPG
Born Vusumuzi Michael Kunene
(1966-04-12) April 12, 1966 (age 56)
Meadowlands, Johannesburg
Gauteng, South Africa
Alma mater University of the Witwatersrand
Occupation Actor
Years active 1993 - to date
Known for Generations as Jack Mabaso
Isidingo as Jefferson Sibeko
IsiBaya as Bhekifa Ngubane

Vusi Kunene (born 12 April 1966) is a South African actor. He is widely known for his portrayal of the villainous Jack Mabaso on Generations: The Legacy and it's forerunner. Vusi Kunene is undoubtedly among the most important actors of his generation, and by far the most prolific working actor in South Africa having appeared in a number of high profile films and television shows. He portrayed the General in the 2011 feature film Paradise Stop, Major Moses Owiti in the 2015 Gavin Hood film Eye in the Sky and Tshekedi Khama in the Amma Asante 2016 film A United Kingdom.

Vusi Kunene portrayed the character of Bhekifa Ngubane on Mzansi Magic telenovela IsiBaya and Paul Lebone in the M-Net original drama series Jacob's Cross. He has also appeared on Soul City, aYeYe, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, The Lab and portrayed the character of Jefferson Sibeko on the SABC 3 soap opera, Isidingo. where he acted alongside Robert Whitehead, Kevin Smith, Jack Devnarain, Lindani Nkosi, Kim Engelbrecht, Kgomotso Christopher and Linda Sokhulu.

Early Life

Vusi Kunene was born on 12 April 1966 in Meadowlands, north of Soweto, in the city of Johannesburg in the Gauteng province of South Africa. He attended Wits School of Drama in Johannesburg where he studied Applied Drama and Theatre.

Early Career: 1993 - 1996

Vusi Kunene was spotted by Moonyeenn Lee while studying at Wits School of Drama. She later became his agent. During that period he appeared in numerous student productions including The Hill. Still a student, Vusi Kunene appeared in Drumbeats, The Line and Rhodes. He also appeared in Homeland and Deafening Silence.

Justice for All, Generations and Continued Success: 1997 - date

Vusi Kunene continued to work steadily through out the mid 1990s. In 1998 he was cast in the drama series, Justice for All, and went on to win an Avanti Award for Best Actor. Vusi Kunene appeared in the second season of the critically SABC 1 drama series, Yizo Yizo, where he portrayed the character of Vuyani. In 2001 he portrayed the character of Wes Koli in th e US miniseries, Diamond Hunters.

In 2002 he joined the then most watched soap opera in South Africa, Generations, where he played the character of Jack Mabaso. This would be the role he became best known for because of that show's wide reach. However, just two years later, the character of Jack Mabaso was killed off bringing Vusi Kunene's time of that show to an abrupt end. During that period Generations had what was arguably the best selection of actors in South Africa including Connie Masilo, Camilla Waldman, Sophie Ndaba, Seputla Sebogodi, Rapulana Seiphemo Xolile Tshabalala, Akin Omotoso, Menzi Ngubane, Mike Mvelase and Leleti Khumalo.

After Generations Vusi Kunene appeared on The Lab, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and the tenth season of the SABC 1 educational drama series, Soul City, as well as appearing in aYeYe in 2015 and the 2016 miniseries, Cape Town.

In 2008 Vusi Kunene joined the M-Net original drama series, Jacob's Cross where he portrayed the character of Paul Lebone. In 2011 he reprised the role of Paul Lebone on Jacob's Cross but did not return for the fifth and final season.

Isidingo as Jefferson Sibeko; 2011 - 2014

Katlego Sibeko Jefferson Sibeko Nikiwe Sibeko Ayanda Diale.jpg

In 2011 Vusi Kunene joined the flagship soap opera, Isidingo, where he portrayed the character of Jefferson Sibeko with news headlines reading "New Isidingo family on the horizon".

Vusi Kunene's introduction to the show was an important move for the soap opera as it faced unrelenting competition from SABC 2's 7de Laan,'s Rhythm City and SABC 1's then relatively new Skeem Saam - this saw Isidingo eventually relinquishing it's 6:30pm time slot.

His character was introduced along with the family which consisted of Kgomotso Christopher who played his onscreen wife Katlego Sibeko, Linda Sokhulu who played his onscreen niece and Letoya Mangezi who played Ayanda Diale.

In 2014 Vusi Kunene joined the Mzansi Magic soap opera, IsiBaya, this led to his Isidingo character being killed off.

IsiBaya as Bhekifa Ngubane; 2014 - 2015

Vusi Kunene as Bhekifa Ngubane on IsiBaya.jpg

In 2014 Vusi Kunene left Isidingo for the Mzansi Magic soap opera, IsiBaya where he portrayed the character of Bhekifa Ngubane. Acting alongside Jessica Nkosi, Bheki Mkhwane and Siyabonga Thwala among others.

Vusi Kunene joined that show along with Andile Gumbi who played the character of Zweli Ngubane, son to Bhekifa; Jeffrey Sekele who played the character of Blade, Bhekifa’s right hand man; Zinhle Mabena who played the character of the 22-year-old Sihle and newcomer Sibusisiwe Jili who played the character of Zanele, the manageress of Club Sheba and a mistress to Bhekifa.

However just after a year news emerged that he had joined the SABC 1 flagship soap opera, Generations, to reprise his role of Jack Mabaso. Initial reports suggested that he would be keeping his role of Bhekifa Ngubane.

"Mzansi Magic wishes to advise that, as with all popular and successful actors of his calibre, Vusi Kunene can be expected to explore multiple options in the thriving South African film and TV industry. However, he currently remains very much apart of the prime-time Isibaya where he plays the role of Bhekifa Ngubane," reports TVSA. However, he left IsiBaya.

Generations as Jack Mabaso; 2002 - 2004 and return; 2015 - to date

Vusi Kunene as Jack Mabaso.png

Vusi Kunene originally portrayed the character of Jack Mabaso on Generations from 2002 to 2004 to great acclaim; at the time this was of particular importance due to that show's cast which largely consisted of actors of high caliber. The show's cast, at one point or another, included Connie Masilo, Camilla Waldman, Sophie Ndaba, Seputla Sebogodi, Rapulana Seiphemo Xolile Tshabalala, Akin Omotoso, Menzi Ngubane, Mike Mvelase and Leleti Khumalo - all of who were experienced and most sought after actors in South Africa.

Vusi Kunene's character of Jack Mabaso was later killed off in what marked the beginning of the departure of older actors and the introduction of your actors; among them Mmabatho Montsho, Mandla Gaduka, Thato Molamu, Maggie Benedict, Phumeza Mdabe, Thami Mngqolo, Zolisa Xaluva, Samkelo Ndlovu and Jafta Mamabolo among others.

However; over time Generations gradually re-introduced experienced actors with the likes of Siyabonga Thwala joining the fray as well as Nambitha Mpumlwana, Slindile Nodangala and Patrick Shai. The entered a period of uncertainly in 2013 as the actors demanded pay hikes, more secured contracts and royalties; to curtail the stalemate, the producers fired the entire principal cast bringing the show and the story line to an abrupt end.

After a three months hiatus a rebranded Generations now dubbed Generations: The Legacy returned to air. This saw the return of the old favourites Connie Masilo and Rapulana Seiphemo as well as the introduction of the new favourites including Manaka Ranaka, Ronnie Nyakale, Thuli Phongolo and Musa Ngema.

However at this point Generations faced direct competition from who introduced Ashes to Ashes at 8pm whose cast consisted of the likes of Nambitha Mpumlwana and Patrick Shai who had been fired from that show. Also shows like IsiBaya which Vusi Kunene was starring in at the time and Uzalo had posed a greater challenge interns of style of story telling and production.

Generations fast tracked their recovery efforts outright poaching Vusi Kunene from IsiBaya. His character of Jack Mabaso was brought back to life and thrust at the center of the new story line bringing the Morokas, the Diales and the Phakades closer apart.

Film Career: 1993 - to date

Vusi Kunene is one of the most, if not the most prolific film actor based in South Africa. Despite prominently featuring on television for the last twenty years, he has appeared in a significant number of films. In 1995 he appeared in the Darrell Roodt directed and James Earl Jones led Cry, the Beloved Country which is based on the Alan Paton novel of the same name.

In the years that followed he appeared on Homeland, Fools, A Reasonable Man and starred in Kini & Adams. In the 2000s he feature in films such as The King Is Alive, Dr Lucille: The Lucille Teasdale Story, Witness to a Kill, Promised Land and Final Solution.

Vusi Kunene has also appeared on Mrs Mandela, State of Violence, A Small Town Called Descent, The First Grader, The Bang Bang Club, Paradise Stop, Lucky, Elelwani, Eye in the Sky and A United Kingdom.

Social Media

  1. Instagram, vusu_muzi, 25 February 2019


  1. TVSA, Vusi Kunene, 22 November 2018
  2. Youth Village, 10 Things You Don’t Know About Vusi Kunene, 22 November 2018
  3. IMDb, Vusi Kunene, 22 November 2018
  4. Information Cradle, Vusi Kunene Biography and Filmography, 25 February 2019
  5. ZAlebs, Vusi Kunene a man of many talents, 25 February 2019
  6. Bona, 5 Reasons We Love Vusi Kunene, 25 February 2019
  7. Soul City, Vusi Kunene as Tifo Miya, 25 February 2019
  8. Daily Sun, JESSICA: “HIS LIPS ARE SO GREAT”!, 25 February 2019
  9. Rotten Tomatoes, Vusi Kunene, 25 February 2019
  10. Channel24, Isibaya producers 'shocked' by Vusi's Generations move, 05 March 2019
  11. Channel24, Vusi Kunene to juggle Generations and Isibaya, 05 March 2019
  12. Destiny Connect, Vusi Kunene’s Isibaya colleagues on working with him, 05 March 2019
  13. Destiny Connect, Isibaya cast bids farewell to Vusi Kunene, 05 March 2019
  14. Destiny Connect, ‘I love playing the villain’ – Vusi Kunene, 05 March 2019
  15. IOL, ‘Powerhouse roles come easy to Vusi, 05 March 2019
  16. Press Reader/ Sowetan, Isidingo: 15 Years of Drama and Intrigue, 05 March 2019
  17. Citizen, Horizon Deep’s mixed reaction to Sibeko’s death , 05 March 2019
  18. Citizen, New family on Isidingo, 05 March 2019
  19. Channel24, Vusi: Being away from TV is like being dead, 06 March 2019
  20. Channel24, Vusi: Being away from TV is like being dead, 06 March 2019
  21. Drum/ News24, Jack is back!, 06 March 2019
  22. Sowetan, Vusi Kunene joins Isibaya, 06 March 2019


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