‘I’ve been told I can’t act, can’t sing’: Dineo Moeketsi on how her mother has stood up for her

Dineo Moeketsi (PHOTO: Onkgopotse Koloti)
Dineo Moeketsi (PHOTO: Onkgopotse Koloti)

Luckily for Dineo Moeketsi (28), she has a cheerleader propping her up all the way: her mom, veteran radio and TV presenter Kgomotso “KG” Moeketsi (47), who helps her rise above the industry’s challenges.

Her grandmother, who defied the odds by becoming an independent businesswoman during apartheid, raised her own daughter to know the value of hard work and the indomitable strength of women. And while Kgomotso’s gogo and mom – who was a nurse – have passed away, their legacy lives on in the robust women they have left behind.

“I always took the opportunity to visit with and spoil my grandmother,” Kgomotso says. “My late mom was one of the most amazing cooks I’ve known and she’d also use the day to visit us and we’d eat and listen to her crazy jokes.” While she appreciates the gifts Dineo normally showers her with, spending time together is what makes the day special, Kgomotso says.

“One of my favourite Mother’s Days was the one my sister and I spent at a restaurant in Fourways with all our kids.” Her daughter is always there for her, just like she’s there for Dineo. “Without fail. She’s an amazing support system and an available ear to listen to my life’s challenges. She gives great advice, even on things like style and hair,” Kgomotso says. She’s the woman she is today because of her mother, Dineo says, and the women who have come before. Her great-grandmother, Magdalene Mohapi, was an entrepreneur and owned numerous taxis at a time when black women were seen and not heard.

“She was the only woman to have a fleet of taxis in the East Rand,” Dineo says proudly. “She’d carpool to factories at three in the morning. She also sold organic chickens at low costs. She was forward thinking at a very dark time in our history.”

Dineo’s close relationship with her mom has helped give her the strength to play her character Keabetswe Khoza on The Queen.

Kea is a spoilt trust-fund baby who struggles with relationships.  She was recently in a physically abusive relationship, a storyline that’s all too familiar. It’s an ongoing issue in SA and Dineo feels her role placed a lot of responsibility on her shoulders. The scenes of abuse can be shockingly realistic – in fact, they were so realistic Kgomotso couldn’t watch them, even though she knows it’s all for the camera.

Even though she works in the industry herself it’s different watching your child taking on rough scenes, she says. “I watched the first episode where Tebogo [Fezile Makhanya] slaps Kea and I phoned Dineo saying I couldn’t watch anymore,” she says.

“She may have been playing a character but I was still seeing my daughter – that was my child up there.” However, Kgomotso was proud of the stir the storyline caused. “I was pleased Tebogo got caught and I was thrilled the storyline evoked conversation in South Africa, enraged some people and showed up others who are primitive in their thinking.”

To master the character, Dineo sat down with friends who’ve endured physical abuse and listened to their stories to understand why they stayed with their abusers and why they eventually left.

“I have close friends who have been in abusive relationships and I wasn’t there for them during those hard times,” she says. “With one of them it happened before we met but the other kept it from me for the longest time and I felt really bad.”

Playing Kea allowed her to get a clearer understanding of what her friends went through and she gave it her all.

“Fezile and I decided to do this wholeheartedly because South Africans approach abuse passively and we need that to change.” Kgomotso is still protective of Dineo, just as she was when her daughter was a child, she tells us. Except now, instead of protecting Dineo from bad stuff that happened when she was a kid growing up in Springs on the East Rand, she protects and defends her from the blows the industry dishes up.

“I endured a lot of rejection when I started out in the industry,” Dineo says. “I started acting on Soul City and the world soon ran dry. I wasn’t getting opportunities and I started presenting just to get a pay cheque. “I have been criticised about my weight, I’ve been told I can’t act, can’t sing, I’m too thin or not thin enough – but before giving up, I look at the long trail of women I come from.”

And her mom is her shoulder to cry on every step of the way. Kgomotso also defends her daughter against social media bullies when she feels things are getting out of hand.

“I’ve had to call out a few people who were attacking her for no specific reason and I will continue to do so,” Kgomotso says fiercely. She’s always looked out for Dineo and her 13-year-old brother, Thando, Kgomotso says.

“I’m no different to any other mom. I’d sleep in the car and wait for Dineo at parties. I’d drive her everywhere. But I’ve learnt to adapt because she’s proven she can make serious decisions by herself.” One of the things she’s had to adjust to is Dineo’s live-in relationship with her rapper boyfriend, Solo (real name Zothile Langa).

“It took my mother time to adapt but she eventually loosened up,” Dineo says. They’ve been dating for six years and they’re in no hurry to get married, she says, although she does want to start a family one day, but until she’s ready to walk down the aisle, Dineo will keep exploring new and challenging roles, she says – and with her mom’s unwavering support, she believes she can accomplish anything. And her mom, of course, agrees.