Cape Town – Leleti Khumalo and Sihle Ndaba will both be leaving South Africa's top rated TV show Uzalo when the 4th season of the hit primetime show debuts in February.
The veteran thesp who has played the character of the KwaMashu matriarch MaNzuza said it's time to move on but Ndaba who played Smangele, has not commented.
Both characters will appear in the upcoming season until the 6th episode. The last day on set for Khumalo and Ndaba will be 15 December.
The hugely successful, on-location shot show is both the most watched show on SABC1 as well as the overall most watched show on South Africa, drawing 9.23 million viewers in September.
That also makes contract negotiations more difficult, since stars on hit shows want to feel that they're properly and adequately rewarded for turning stories into a success and reeling viewers in.
It's not clear what led to the exit of the actors and if it was because of re-upping contract negotiations for the 4th season possibly failed, but the show says "we have a clear stance where our onscreen talent is concerned".
"I am grateful for the opportunity, and the platform Uzalo provided for me to bond with the viewers, and my fans who have been a part of my journey over the years," says Khumalo in an exit statement.
"Whilst this has not been as easy decision for me as an artist, it is time for me to move on and grow professionally in other areas.”
'They have been an incredible part of the journey'
The show's producers, Stained Glass TV, says Uzalo will continue to deliver "exciting plotlines" and will bring in some fresh faces.
"Leleti and Sihle have been such an incredible part of the Uzalo story and journey; they will always be part of the family," says Pepsi Pokane, co-owner of the production company.
"It has been a joy to work with them, and alongside the SABC we created the platform where they were able to showcase their talent so captivatingly."
"Parting ways with actors of such calibre is always going to be bittersweet, but we have no doubt they will continue to work their magic on the new trails they’ll be embarking on."
"We have a clear stance where our onscreen talent is concerned. We've always been committed to including fresh, new talent, while ensuring we had some seasoned, established players in our cast."
"The combination has worked perfectly for Uzalo and delivered results that’s kept viewers enthralled. We’ve got auditions coming up, and will be bringing on some amazing actors."