Johannesburg - Reality TV is far from real. And in real life Evodia Mogase is nothing like Madame, the nickname for her character in The Real Housewives of Johannesburg.
On screen she portrays a no-nonsense character who speaks her mind, but in reality Mogase is reserved and down to earth.
Mogase stars alongside her daughter Mercy Mogase, Durban-born Christall Kay, Naked DJ’s wife and law student Naledi Willers, spa owner Brinnette Seopela and avid golfer Busisiwe “Lendy” Ter Mors.
In the show Mogase and Kay are always caught in a heated argument, but even this is not exactly as it seems.
“Christall is just full of herself and wants everyone to bow to her. I have met people worse than her. She’s not that bad.”
The South African instalment of The Real Housewives, which airs on Friday on 1Magic (DStv 103 at 19:00) gets behind the scenes of the lives of six interesting women, dealing with everything from VIP parties to their extensive collection of handbags and stilettos.
Mogase, who prefers not to reveal her age, says the reason she is in the show is to encourage women, especially young women, that hard work pays off and you don’t need to marry a rich man to live a lavish lifestyle. A backlash against the “blesser culture”, if you will.
“It’s my own money. I did not inherit money and I was not blessed with it,” she says.
However, this doesn’t mean she wouldn’t accept a gift from her partner, whom she refers to as Babe, who recently bought her the latest Mercedes-AMG E 63 S, which costs at least R2 million. It’s the latest car in her already impressive fleet, which includes a Porsche Cayenne and Mercedes-Benz A 250.
Mogase, who in the show’s first episode introduced herself as the “Madame who always gets what she wants”, spoke to City Press at her modern, double-storey home on one of Hartbeespoort’s opulent golf estates. She shares it with her two daughters, Mercy and baby Princess.
She describes herself as “just a kasi girl”.
“I love people. I just don’t like people who undermine and judge others because of material things. It is said that people judge you for what you drive, what you wear and where you live. It’s just unacceptable.”
Mogase says she is a loving, hard-working mother who provides for her family.
So did she marry a rich man?
“No! No! I am a workaholic. I love money and I work hard for it. I don’t mind wearing gumboots, overalls and sleeping in the bushes as long as I am making money,” she says.
Mogase grew up in a middle class family in Diepkloof, Soweto, raised by her factory worker mother, Louisa, and salesman father, Reuben. She has them to thank for her strength and independence, she says.
“We didn’t have everything, but my parents gave us the best education. I owe my success to them.”
She has a BA in education from the University of the North. After completing her studies she taught biology in Limpopo for a year. She quit after realising teaching was “not challenging enough” to start her own catering company.
“I remember my mother gave me a start-up, she bought me 75 plates from the plaza in Fordsburg and this was the beginning of greater things in my life,” she says.
A few months later, her company received a five-year contract from Eskom. The business blossomed and she sealed more catering contracts and others for cleaning services.
“While I was doing the cleaning services I saw a huge gap in vegetation management.
“Only men were vegetation experts at Eskom. I went to study environmental management and soon I was in the field working with men,” she says, adding the men she worked with did not think she would make it.
“But I worked twice as hard to prove them wrong. Thirty years later, I am still working with Eskom. I am proud to say Eskom made me,” she says.
Although she was doing well at work, her home life was a mess.
“I was married but my ex-husband, who passed away last year, was cheating with different girls and one day I decided to call it quits and filed for divorce. I helped him to build a successful panel beating firm in Limpopo, but left him with everything for the sake of peace. When I left him, I left with nothing. The only thing I had were the clothes I was wearing.”
Today she is working on opening a new panel beating business because “I loves cars”.
The 2009 divorce almost destroyed her, she says.
For two years she stayed in a caravan but going back home was not an option for her.
“My parents didn’t have a problem with me coming back home. I just wanted to start afresh,” she says.
When she takes off her stilettos, wig and make-up, Mogase works hard in the bush, clearing vegetation from power lines and “wouldn’t trade my job for anything”.
She has tried multiple businesses, including selling clothes, but says she believes she has now found her calling. She proudly shows off pictures of herself in action, but in them she looks markedly different, with none of the glamour viewers of Real Housewives see.
Asked whether she’s had plastic surgery, she says: “No, I just did a boob job. I mean, there is nothing wrong with going under the knife. We work hard and we reward ourselves in different ways, some people will buy Champagne,” she says.
“But because I don’t drink I would buy expensive bags and clothes to spoil myself.”
Nine years later, Mogase has found love again.
“He is loyal, ambitious and hardworking and he also runs his own businesses.”
(Photos: Leon Sadiki)