Popular telenovela The River has introduced the South African audience to drama which expertly walks a tightrope between absurdity and absolute entertainment. It has brought to our screens one of the most-loved villains in South African television history in the form of the murderous and stylish Lindiwe Dikana.
Sindi Dlathu took on the role and catapulted her to the most notorious villain on television. She, by far, supersedes the most ruthless women from television not quite comparable to Brooke Logan and far more menacing than Harriet Khoza.
What sets Lindiwe Dikana apart is her wardrobe which gives prominence to her ruthlessness. The power behind Lindiwe Dikana seems to reside in the seams of her high collar shirts and the enormous swells of her bell sleeves.
When the mining magnate shifts closer to rage, the costume department ensures that her outfits announce her mood. Bloodthirst is announced through statement pieces which play a pivotal role in ascending the levels of drama.
Besides her proclivity for murder and the mine moonlighting as a torture chamber and tomb for her enemies, Lindiwe has managed to use clothes as costumes of trickery. While her arrogance is announced by the whooshing of her extravagant garments before she opens her mouth to reintroduce herself as Satan’s wet nurse, she also knows how to dress in a manner that evokes the desired emotion she wants from her audience.
While on trial, she quickly changed the narrative from a designer-wearing, gun-toting black businesswoman to a mbokodo being targeted by white monopoly capital. The gag is, she doesn't do modesty too well, so even in her attempts at being relatable to black South Africans – particularly those in Refilwe township – she remains quite aloof in her demeanour.
The head wraps and the performance of singing struggle songs in court to evade a murder and an attempted murder charge were just another stage for Lindiwe's pageantry.
While recovering from her brief bout of dispossession and living in squalor, we witness Lindiwe returning to her house where she fights for her throne as the head of the house (because, trust us, Zweli is only the man on the house because she nurses his oblivion) and for her marriage.
Gradually, she sheds the rags that were her only source of insulation when everybody had turned from her and makes her comeback in a blood-red designer outfit at the marriage massacre.
Initially, when we first met Lindiwe in her red bottoms and a Maxhosa skirt, she seemed like an unassuming businesswoman with a taste for the finer things in life.
As the show proceeded, the wardrobe department was often chastised for the ludicrous outfits that make the woman who has managed to turn the anti-hero into a fan favourite. While trying to mould Tumi into a mini her, she managed to look like a wilted flower drowning in her conscience and of course, the fabric.
Leading a police cavalry in her G-wagon to demolish houses and displace the community of Refilwe, she wears a stark white power suit with her signature blood-red lipstick and watches without conscience as people are beaten, evicted and massacred before her eyes.
She remains infallible as clouds of dust announce the hurricane of chaos that she causes whenever she fails to get her way. Through it all, not a wrinkle in sight and not a drop of blood (she will never repeat the mistake of showing up dirty again after uniting Thato Mokoena with the fish he so loved).
Her methods of murder may be unpredictable, but one thing is for sure, when the balloon sleeve arrives, somebody is definitely about to die.
Watch The River weeknights on 1Magic (DStv channel 103) at 8pm