From Prison to Riches: The story of Gomora actor Don ‘Israel Matseke Zulu’ inspires Mzansi
Israel Matseke Zulu, previously known as Israel Makoe, plays the role of Don Buthelezi on Gomora. The Don character on Gomora is a villain and long lost Teddy’s father. He comes back to Zodwa’s with his daughter Sibongile Buthelezi (played by Nandipha Khubone), seeking a place to stay. He joined London’s crew which specialized in hijacking cars and later became his own boss. Famous for his voice tone, Don is a manipulating criminal who seeks to toil with people’s feelings and lives.
With his corruptive mind, he set gun-wielding thugs Sdumo and Brains to pounce on his family to prove the weakness of Bongani and play saviour in the situation. He is proof that once a criminal is always a criminal, no matter how Don tries to pretend that he cars for Zodwa and his family, he always fall back hard to old ways. Don plays cat and mouse with Mam’ Sonto‘s camp; the two camps are always trying to eliminate each other.
In real life, the Award-winning actor Israel Matseke Zulu, the self-proclaimed Ghetto Professor, turned a dark moment into a shining light. Born on 28 December 1973 in Alexandra Township, he is second-born in a family of five and aspired to be popular. Disaster struck at the age of 14, in 1987, when Israel was involved in criminal activities. He was arrested for the first time at the age of 14 for theft, unlawful entry and burglary. In 1996 Israel was sentenced to eight years in prison; while he was serving his sentence, he fell in love with drama and live performance.
Don on Gomora – Israel formed the Abaqobi Drama Group.
While serving his jail sentence, Masteke Zulu formed the Abaqobi Drama Group with other inmates and groomed acting and live performing talent inside prisons. The group managed to secure stage performances at social gatherings.
When he got released from prison, he worked for Victory Sonqoba Theatre Company and secured an opportunity to audition for SABC 1, the Award-Winning drama series Yizo Yizo where he played Boyza.
Israel played gangster roles throughout his career, including Cyprian Gumbi on Isibaya, Jakes Masilo on e.tv drama series Z’bondiwe and Don Buthelezi on Gomora.
The multi-talented entertainer is also a well-established poet, singer and dancer.