A Gold Gang operating in Johannesburg is the focus of Donovan Marsh’s South African action drama “iNumber Number: Jozi Gold,” which is currently available on Netflix. After a covert operation, Chilli Ngcobo and Shoes, two police officers, capture Hyena Man, a high-level criminal. Hyena Man is able to escape prosecution, nevertheless, thanks to corruption within the police department. Chilli consequently questions his responsibility as a cop on his next assignment and mulls about sacrificing everything for the greater good.
The story of the movie goes into the shady world of gold smuggling through the character of Hyena Man, played by Bongile Mantsai. Viewers can question whether he is related to a real-life criminal given his considerable involvement in the same and his outrageous hyena stunt. Here is everything you need to know about the history of Hyena Man in case you share my curiosity.
Is Hyena Man a Real Criminal?
No, Hyena Man is an actual criminal who was modelled on. The threat posed by Hyena Man is one that the movie’s protagonist must deal with. As a result, Donovan Marsh, the film’s writer and director, made up all of his idiosyncrasies and characteristics in order to strengthen his character. Chilli has less faith in the legal system as a result of Hyena Man’s unethical behaviour and capacity to break the law. He thus plays a crucial role in the protagonist’s overall character development in addition to setting up the movie’s concept.
A member of the larger gold gang in the city, Hyena Man is constantly accompanied by Jonga, his trained yet dangerous pet hyena. He uses illegal and cruel labour to acquire the gold he smuggles. As a result, he bears sole responsibility for the deaths of several individuals, including children whom he forces to work in hazardous gold mines without sufficient training or compensation. Hyena Man’s character appears to have some real-world roots even though there isn’t an exact match in reality.
Welkom City, South Africa’s mining industry collapsed in the 1990s, creating a massive illicit economy. In search of residual gold ore, many people began taking risks and going into these mines. The New Yorker claims that several of these underground businesses are operated by crime syndicates who use the gold they have illegally stolen from their mine to launder. Numerous bodies of miners, often referred to as “zama-zamas” by the locals, have been discovered inside these mines.
These criminal organisations and Hyena Man’s gang clearly share commonalities. Therefore, it’s probable that the latter’s popularity affected the filmmakers as they were making Hyena Man. The brutal personality of Hyena Man and his connections to the gold-smuggling underworld serve as pertinent representations of truth since the movie portrays the terrible reality of the crime scene in South Africa.
Additionally, Hyena Man’s persona has some similarities to the Hyena Men of Nigeria because of his relationship with Jonga, his companion Hyena. These men are well renowned for their line of work, which involves performing with their pet wild animals, such as baboons, snakes, and hyenas.
In an interview with The African Insider, Pieter Hugo—whose 2007 work “The Hyena & Other Men” brought the Hyena Men to the attention of the world—discussed the bond between the men and their pets. “There was a very odd, almost sadomasochistic, interaction going on between the guys and the hyenas. These creatures were captured as young animals from the wild. No way could they go back. They had no other source of food but these guys. And these men’s means of subsistence depended on the animals. Although they required one another, their symbiosis wasn’t simple.
The iNumber for Jozi Gold is Jonga and Hyena Man appear to have a similar bond. The same might therefore have served as a source of influence for his persona as well. Hyena Man is not explicitly based on a real criminal, despite the fact that these may have served as inspiration.