A LOCAL theatre group were the first prize winners at the Ishashalazi Women’s Theatre Festival in Durban last week. The group, which consists of three actresses, Milani Mtshotshisa, Nontobeko Magabela and Snetlahla Magalela, and their director Mphumzi Ngela, who were at festival for the second time this year, said they went into it as a learning opportunity and not a competition.“We went up against skilled actors from Durban and surrounds and it was very tough. When they announced us as winners we couldn’t believe it,” said Ngela. The group’s play Abafazi (Women) was based on three women and their attempts to navigate their way through hard times. One of them was raped and impregnated as a young virgin, another was in an abusive relationship and the other a domestic worker battling to support her family. Magadela, who played the role of the woman in an abusive relationship, also won the best actress award at the festival. The trio will feature in the Uzalo soapie on SABC1. “What we have taken from the journey is that hard work definitely pays off. “We don’t come from privileged background, but we were determined and it means a lot for us to have achieved this,” said Ngela.