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A life of dreams and drama for Kim Cloete, the troubled teenage runaway who became a TV star

Growing up as a bright and ambitious child in Bonteheuwel, Cape Town, Kim Cloete had her future all figured out.

Growing up as a bright and ambitious child in Bonteheuwel, Cape Town, Kim Cloete had her future all figured out. She was going to count on a happy and fulfilling career as a cruncher of numbers. 

She dreamed not just of being an accountant, but of being a forensic accountant, and when she won a scholarship to study the discipline at UCT, it looked like her dream would come true. But life had other plans in store for Kim. At 19, she packed her bags and fled her troubled home, vowing never to return.

In-between her studies, she worked as a manager at a store in Ratanga Junction, an amusement park just outside the city. She worked her way up to a happier position, as a data capturer for the company, and one day, a “beautiful man” walked in, and she was smitten. 

His name was Randall, and he was an actor, famous as a character in the soap opera series, Egoli. They got talking. Kim had been an aspirant starlet in her childhood days, and now she was starry-eyed all over again, and it wasn’t long before she was moving in showbiz circles. 

She answered a call for an audition, and that’s why, today, Kim Cloete is an actress and TV presenter, rather than a forensic accountant. Best known for her roles in Isidingo and Binnelanders, as well as her SABC3 talkshow, LunchBox, Kim is proof that life doesn’t always go as planned, and that the path to a dream career is never easy. 

In this candid and revealing chat with Ruda, Kim shares her experiences and her thoughts on forgiveness, coping with tragedy, and finding true happiness on and off the screen.

Transcription of Ruda Talks Change with Kim Cloete

Ruda: Hello, and welcome to another chat on the Change Exchange. Um … Change, the Change Exchange, we talk about changes in life, moments of change, decisions, changes that life forces on us and how that affects us. And I get to talk to wonderful people and today I’m very happy to welcome a good friend of mine, Kim Nicholas. Kimmy, I’m so happy to see you on the other side of this, of this picture. Um … We know each other well, Kim and I we, we’re um … Friends. And at a different time in my life in a different incarnation at Carte Blanche. You trusted me with some very painful and crucial stuff. So, thank you for joining us today.

Kim: Hi, Ruda. Thank you so much for asking me, I’m quiet, I’m quite honoured. When I saw the list of people you interviewed. I was like, Whoa! Am I part of this list of people? But I think, um … Also just having sat around the table with you over the years, and obviously, people know me as Kim Cloete, but I think you got to know me as Kim Nicholas back in the day. You know, just having journeyed with you as a friend over the years, you have been a friend, a very good friend to me, in fact, and somehow you always, um … Your timing has always been quite impeccable knowing … When to, when to pull me in and have a chat.

Ruda: Well, talking about life changes. You started out studying accounting, how come? Was acting ever part of the picture?

Kim: No, acting was never part of the picture. I was quite a bit of uh … Introverted child growing up, I was a bit of a bookworm and very much an academic. My great grandfather, Peter Frederick Jacobs, taught me to read at the age of four, he was very much about education. And I was one of the first children, great grandkids in our family to be accepted to university, coming from Bonteheuwel. So, I got a scholarship to study accounting at UCT. And I was I was very numerate, uh … And I loved numbers, I loved the counting and, and I got accepted, to, to do this amazing course. And I was going to be an accountant, I wanted to do forensic accounting, that was that was the dream. I was always very creative as a child and um … I did a … Small little thing, um … A drama, uh … Um … programme that Taliep Petersen and David Kramer did for kids from disadvantaged communities, over a span of three years, called Music Active. But my parents were not very encouraging where that was concerned, even though I showed a lot of promise, I was never allowed to audition for the professional shows. So, accounting was where I was headed. Yeah, so that’s how I ended up.

Ruda: But then, after two years, you … After two years, you had to give it up because you also had to work, you were looking after yourself. You know, and we’ve talked about it that people often think that um … Celebrities in inverted commas, um … Must have had an easy, must have had an easy life, come from, from privilege, you didn’t!

Kim: No, I didn’t. So, when I was 19, because of my … My situation at home was quite strange. I realized that if I didn’t make a very drastic decision, that my life was headed in one direction – in one direction only and that was devastation. And I had to make a call and that call was to leave. And the only way I could leave was to leave without consent and that was running away. And so, at the age of 19, I made some people who were, hmm … Wolves in sheep’s clothing, but they served the purpose at the time of getting me out. And I wrote letters, to my best friend, and my mom, and some family members, and I explained to them the situation. And these people offered to fetch me, I packed a bag. And I left my family home, which was devastating because I was very close with my great grandfather and my brother. My baby brother, who was eight years younger than I am. And it was a very hard decision, but I realise that was the only day that I could leave. My mom was invigilating, my stepdad was at work and that morning, he decided not to go to work. So, it became I’m incredibly difficult, but … I had to plan leaving days in advance. So, I knew that the moment I left, I literally could just grab, I knew what to take. It was already pre-set. It was like a movie. And I left, I left home. And yeah. And I was working at, Ratanga Junction, full time. So, I would study in the morning, from eight until about one, two, I would report to Ratanga Junction. I was a retail manager for some of the stores there. So, I would work until about 9:00, 10:00 at night, get home at 12:00, back at Campus at 8:00. And so, my life went on for about a year and it was untenable. It really was untenable. I, I was burning the candle at both ends and I, I was burnt out. I was burnt out. And um … One of my lecturers called me in, Jenny Christie. Yeah. And she just said to me, “Kimmy, you’ve got to make a call here, you can’t do both, you can’t”. And I could not, not work. So, I had to put my studies on hold at the end of my second year. And I continued working, yeah. So, no! It wasn’t easy, three taxis.

Ruda: Sho! But that’s, those are two, those are two huge life decisions to make before you’re 21. And in both cases, you say, you have to just take absolute responsibility for yourself and know that these are the circumstances, I have to make a decision. Sho! It’s hard, huh? For such a young person.

Kim: Yeah, I had to grow up quite quickly. Because, you know, I was – as much as it seems like I was, I was quite cushioned. You know, I was never allowed out. I was never, could have boyfriends. I was never allowed to go out on my own. I was, I grew up, I grew up old. And I think also because of my exposure to books. I grew up old and wise, fast. But I was I was not prepared for the world out there. I was very innocent; I was very innocent. And I trusted people because I, I always believe in the good of people, I still do at the age of 42. I, I still do believe in the good of people, you know, until they show me who they are. And then I go, “cool, now I believe you”.

Ruda: And the next quite dramatic change was, uh …  You were in a relationship with an actor, Randall de Jager if I’m right, and you followed him to Johannesburg, but that was also a sudden and um … Crucial decision, drastic.

Kim: You know, when you put it in into this perspective about Change Moments, and I often say I’ve lived a much fuller life than most 42-year-olds. I understand now why because I’ve put myself into these massive big Change Moments so frequently, in a very short amount of time. So, I fell in love for the first time after I’d run away, about a year after I’ve run away. I met this amazing man. I had moved from retail, I was full time to Ratanga, from retail, I moved up to administration. And um … Randall was an actor that used to play on Egoli and I used to watch him as a teenager, beautiful man, beautiful actor. And all the girls had a crush on him. He was from Bishop Lavis. And he was working for an ad agency at the time who was working with our company. And I was, I was a data capturer. And the girls were all in [inaudible]. They were like, “Oh my God, oh my God, this guy’s coming up, this guy’s coming up”. “This actor, this actor”and I’m like, “oh, okay, this actor, act cool, act cool”. And he came straight to my desk. And he said, and he just had the most infectious energy, greeted everyone and specifically greeted me. And I was like, “Oh, hey”. And at the time, I was quite instinct injured. I was vulnerable. I had gone through massive abuse, having left home, having divulged, um … Facts about, um … My abuse to people in the park to women in the park that had now shared these very, very, very intimate details with people I don’t know, and basically told people that I had made, I had fabricated the whole thing. So, I was in a very vulnerable space in my life. I had no friends, couldn’t see my family. I was excommunicated from everything. So, I was very alone, at the time. And when this man walked into my life it was at a time where I was, I was bare and, and I think he saw me. He was the first person to, um … Sho! Yesie! Vat jy my nou teruggie, Ruda. Sho! Yeah, he was the first person to truly see me in a very, very low. Um … I was, I was, I was being sculpted at the time, I was in the fire, but sculpting, being sculpted. And I fell in love with this beautiful soul.  And I did, I followed him to Joburg, he … Six months, about a year after we started seeing each other and like I couldn’t believe my luck. This guy could have any girl, any girl. And he was so interested in this person who loved books, who was a nerd. We love [inaudible], as Mara said, who come from Bonteheuwel, ran away from home, who has this world of baggage on the shoulders. But he used to say you know what? Shoelaces make you happy. I just want to be around you. And um … About a year after we started seeing each other he got an offer, 7 de Laan started. And he got an offer to, to go back on screen. And he was gone for six months. We had a long-distance relationship. He came back he said look, they want to offer me a full-time gig. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I said I’m coming. I have nothing here. If you’re not here, I have nothing. I can’t see my family. I have one best friend yet Dylan Chetty. I’m coming and within three. And so, I was, at that time, I had advanced from admin to finance in Ratanga Junction. And at night I would moonlight at Ocean Basket to make extra money. Packed up my apartment, got my licence. My, my, my, my instructor, my driving instructor said, I don’t think you’re ready to do this test today”.  I said, “I am doing this test, you’re booking the test for me. I’m not asking you I’m telling you”and I passed. And, and I got on a bus with my tote bag and the hundreds and the few thousand rand that I had saved from waitressing at night. And I came to Joburg thinking, I’m going to finish my accounting degree, to be with the person I love. And I left my family and, I came to the big city not knowing what was waiting, yeah.

Ruda: And so how did you get into art and entertainment because you were then still working, um …  As a financial person. You’ll also find found a job here, in finance and accounting.

Kim: So, because Ocean Basket is a massive franchise, and we were very well-trained at the branch we were at, I came straight to the one in Melville just to get myself going. And then a place called Broadway Dance opened up with Cinda Eatock. She came back from New York and she opened up this beautiful place on the precinct opposite Spa. And I thought, oh lekker, I’m gonna teach Cape Town jazz, because people love Cape Town jazz, and I’m thinking I can do this. And when they saw my CV, they said, oh, but you know everything about IT and accounting and administration, and we don’t know anything about that, don’t you want to run the desk? And so, I ended up implementing all the systems for them and I basically ended up running. I ran the dance studio, and through that, I met a lot of artists and actors, and I even met my best friend live for the first time, Quinney and, in fact, Ruda, I think you came there once or twice as well. I don’t know if you remember that.

Ruda: Possible, it’s many years ago.

Kim: Yes. But because Randall was in the acting fraternity. We went to a party in Linden, I think and there was a wonderful woman, called [inaudible]. And she was a researcher for ETV. And we were chatting and, you know when … When you come from a dead space, like I had occupied for most of my life, everything excites you. You take nothing for granted. Everything is beautiful around you because you’ve been deprived of it for so long. And, and so, I had an energy about me that drew people. They, they didn’t know why but they, but there was definitely something. And, Anna and I started chatting and um … I said to her, so this um … Because now I’m looking for work while I am also, you know, I had no delusions of becoming an actress at all. And I said to her, listen, so this presenting thing, it was the time when Simunye Grooves was really big, you know when the Greames and the Rowans and the Claires were all, it was massive. They did all these promos, and everyone wanted to be a presenter. And said to her, you know, this presenting thing. I think I could possibly do this, thinking side gig. Side gig while I finished my degree. She said, actually, you know what, I think you could really be good. I gave her my details. Three days later, she calls me I’m in Cresta. She says I need you to come for an audition. My heart stops, I say to her I have no idea what to do. I don’t even know what that means. What do, what, what must I do? What must I do? She says just be yourself. I said what part of myself do you want? She says the one I met. The one I met on Saturday. I’m like, okay, went to the audition at Red Pepper, the old Red Pepper Studios. And three days later I was presenting for, for Kids TV, Craz-E. And I was still running the dance studio.

Ruda: Kimmy, but tell me, tell me that that first moment in front of the camera? What did it feel like? Did you immediately know that “I can do this, I can connect with this dead thing in front of me”?

Kim: Yeah. Yeah, it was it was, it was the most natural thing for me. It was, it was quite bizarre. Nothing about that. Nothing about presenting scared me, at all. There was nothing about it that scared me. It was the most natural thing, obviously technically. [inaudible] Nothing about it scared me and it became really natural. Because I, because I have a photographic memory I could …  Learning links was one read and then we go. And then we done. And so, I was like, this is not so hard. And then my favourite thing, I’ve got to, to chat to people about the things that are interesting. You see how cool is this gig? This is awesome. So, I, I quickly fell in love.

Ruda: And being on stage. How did how did you, how did you get into serious acting because I’ve seen you once for …  Just among other things, on a stage at a festival doing a one-woman show, which was one of the most intense things I’ve ever seen, about abuse. That is a completely different world from chatting to people on camera.

Kim: See that, that was a journey, that was a journey for me, my acting, my acting was a … Finding acting was, was quiet, um … Yesie! I don’t want to sound esoteric now, but I don’t quite know how to say this. Acting came to find me. I resisted it for a very long time. It’s like a calling. And you go no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. And then you just, and then you have no choice. And the guy who found, who found me was, ugh man! We lost him. We lost him last year. Excuse me, Gerard Schoonhoven. He was a magnificent human being, he looked like the guy from Back to the Future, [inaudible]. And there was a series that Chris Vorster wrote, Plek van die Vleisvreters. This is about 2004, 2003. And Marius from [inaudible] said … So, now I’m presenting now I’m on KykNET all these things are happening.

Ruda: And you are making decent money for a change.

Kim: Money, it’s my, you know. I had; I had lost Randall in all of that. You know, my first year here. He dies. I’m lost. I don’t know what. I don’t know who I am. He’s gone. I’m alone in the city. I, and it was just when I landed my first big KykNET gig. [inaudible] to multicam. I’m like, I don’t know, I don’t know. I don’t know if I come back to Joburg, what?  Can I do this? I’m traumatised. I was there when this happened.

Ruda: Kim that was, it was such a beautiful time in your life with this wonderful relationship, and it was all going so well. And then there was the robbery and Randall was shot. How did you? How did you react? How did you come back from that?

Kim: Ooh! Um … I think. So, a week before he died, I landed my first professional, well multicam show for KykNET and he was so proud. He was so proud. We were buying Christmas presents. And he ran and he was screaming in the shop and he was he was just larger than life. And going down for his funeral, I was … Obviously, because I was there, I was, I was spatially traumatized as well. I couldn’t be alone in a room without having a panic attack. And the thought of coming back to Joburg was unthinkable. But it was the only thing I had left. It was it was really the only thing I had left. And I, I remember how … His response to it and how hard I’d worked and how far I had come and just how much faith he had restored in me in our short time together. And it would have been such a disservice to our time and our love for each other to now stop and give up. And so, I came back to face the monsters. And what I found here was family people that I still call family and, and when I, when I started my career properly after his death, I did it with an energy that, I think scared a lot of people and surprised a lot of people. Because when, when that is all you have, you operate on a very different level. And things that are important to most people become insignificant to you. So, ek het baie vining, baie vining groot geword en baie vining wys geword in daai tyd. So, that’s why I came back. I wanted to honour him, through carrying on and not just carrying on but, making, making magic. Yeah.

Ruda: And … But let’s go back to, to acting and acting on stage especially.

Kim: So, Gerard Schoonhoven, late Gerard Schoonhoven was the director who found me. I was called to do an audition for Plek van die Vleisvretersand I said no. Chris Vorster wrote this for specific people. Randall having been one of the characters, he wrote the character called Randall. Dawn Matthews being a character you wrote for Dawn Matthews. So, they wanted me to audition for Dawn’s character. And I said no, I’m not an actor. It’s like calling me to surgery to cut and I’ve never cut before. No, I have respect for what these people do. I live with Ivan and [inaudible] at the time, who are thespians and I, it was like being at university. So no, I’m not doing this. After three calls, I eventually. Marius said, “just go, what do you have to lose? Just go and read for them”. So, I go, and I read for Dawn. [Inaudible]. I started sobbing in this audition and I really, I don’t know what happened, but something happened in this audition. And I got the part. And I get this part. And it’s, it’s, it’s and so my part is, I have um … I have a physical affair with my biological father, whom I don’t know is my biological father. I date a drug dealer called Randall who was written for Randall. I fall pregnant. I have um … I have an abortion. I find out it’s my biological father and then I tried to commit suicide. This is my first role. And that’s when I realised I’m a storyteller and Gerard Schoonhoven. Gerard Schoonhoven, told me, you’re not an accountant, you’re an actress. And Johnny Barbuzano showed me that I am when I started.

Ruda: How does one learn the craft? I mean, you had to do it. In, in doing it, you didn’t, you, you didn’t have the space to go and learn first and go and practice first and then come back, you have to just do it then.

Kim: Yeah, so I’m autodidactic right. I’m self-taught. So um, and there are many schools of thought. For me personally, if I had to go sit at a university and learn the theory of drama, I probably would have been bored. But the fact that I could learn on the floor and I’m a very practical … As much as I’m left when I’m right brain too I, I loved the fact that I could learn from Johan Strydom, I could learn from [inaudible] maybe I could learn from a [Inaudible] from a Renate Brown, from an Ivan Lucas, I could see my [inaudible], and I would be a student when I’m not on the floor, I, I watched them, I see what they do. And that was the best learning school for me. It was the best way for me to learn acting, and um … My method and my technique, I have crafted over the years. And it’s a very different approach to acting. [inaudible], for me, I channel I go, I go very deep. To the point where I, I’ve had to craft methods of debriefing from a character because acting is the, it’s the worst terminology for what we do, because I believe we become, I become, at least. To the point where I come home and my husband says to me, my fiancé says to me, um …. So, have we debriefed? Have we briefed and I go, not yet? I need three days if it was a hectic role, so I love the fact that that was the way I learned.

Ruda: And then, how did you? How did you get into writing and producing?

Kim: Oh, writing and …  Maar wag, let me first tell you, [inaudible] got me on stage properly to do this one-woman show and I’m not, I’m not theatre trained. I did a pantomime and I did one show for Mike Van Graan. Henry Mylne calls me and says, “I want you to do this one-woman show”. I go, “are you’re out of your mind?”. On what?  Sex slave? I’m like, you are cooked, Henry. Are you mad?” He goes, “Kim, you can,” I said, “No, dude, I’m sorry”. So, Henry Mylne was a good friend of Randall’s as well and a director on 7 de Laan. He says, Kim, I need someone with your kind of ish, to tell the story and so I did. And, Ruda, it was one of the most cathartic pieces of work I’ve ever done in my life. I carried that woman with me for months. Because I believe when you are telling a story, as true as that, you are tapping into a timeline. Because it’s still happening as you are telling it, you’re tapping into a frequency of truth. And there were times when I felt I had out of body experiences during that show, where I was no longer in charge. I was gone, Kim was gone. And at the end of that run, it was when you came to watch it, I had to say goodbye to that person. I had to say to her, I have to leave you behind because I can’t keep you with me, It’s too heavy. So, acting for me is a very sacred act. It’s, it’s there’s nothing click, click flash, flash and, and glamorous about it, for me. It’s a very sacred thing for me. Writing and producing, um, I’ve always written, um … And I think my, my big work came when I moved out to Cape Town and I was challenged. Um … I was challenged, I was commissioned to write a piece on the, the colossal of good hope. And, and they gave us beautiful, beautiful money to put a beautiful piece together. And I had the freedom to put a cast together and pay people properly, which was great. But I wanted to write this piece myself, and so.  So, I started a process of three months, I think with historians and linguists. And um … I would fly in on a … No, no, no. So, I was still living in Cape Town at the time. And it was, it was cathartic to the point where I had access to archival materials and pieces of history that I, that I didn’t know about. I went through so many different emotions over those three months from being very angry, inherent anger, old anger, Because I’m everything, I’m Khoisan, I’m French, I’m African, and I’m Asian and all of it. So, I had this, ek was kwaad, I was angry at what happened, what really occurred here on this, just this piece of land. And I wrote on it. It took a long time to write this piece. It took me a very long time. But I honestly believe, I mean I would wake up at three in the morning with voices in my head, daar moet ek nou skryf, I have no choice. I was living in Muizenburg at the time, then I need to start writing and I was writing with a guy called Bradley [inaudible]. He’s got his PhD in linguistics, he is from Lavendale. And I, in it, is it, is the the thing I’m most scared of showing people what I’ve written. And I gave him my first monologue, it’s actually a soliloquy, but … It’s about three pages long. And it’s, it’s on a character called [inaudible], he is Khoisan. And I gave it to him. At this stage, I had done no research, I had had one conversation with Bradley, I say to him, this is where I want to pitch this, this piece is actually one long poem. That’s what I wanted to be, from the Khoisan to the Dutch soldier. To, uhm… To Murray, to, to Crotoa, It’s very personal. The skeleton is the history, but everything is very personal, from personal perspectives. So, I gave him this piece of paper, and he started reading it. And he says to me, “what are your references? Where did you get the information?”, And I say to him, No, my brother, I know I’ve not done the research yet. My research begins with you now”. And there were pieces of information in this [inaudible]. That was so accurate. He says to me, “are you sure you didn’t read?”, I said, “No, Bradley, I, I got up at three and I wrote this”.And he said to me,” Yoh! My sister, you’re taking this to another level”. I said to him, “My friend, I’m telling you now I am not writing this, I am just the vessel here”.And so, started a beautiful process, not just for me, but for the 10 actors that I cast. I would fly in on a Friday night, I moved to Jo … Back to Joburg, fly in on a Friday night at about 11, I would get to the castle. I had military access and then I would start walking around those walls … Because I needed, I needed to hear what they wanted to say. So, I know it sounds very, but … It happened and it was a very moving piece, Ruda. It was called [inaudible], “Just when you thought we were done”. Yeah.

Ruda: I’m afraid I have to move us along, Sorry. Because can’t carry on talking for the rest of the day.

Kim: Can I just say for the record? That is my proudest piece of work. If I had to go tomorrow, please remember that is my proudest piece of work.

Ruda: Wonderful. Wonderful. And that was the major, another major Change Moment, of course, because there cast you in a completely different role.

Kim: Yes.

Ruda: Just tell me about Dreamer’s Child, how it started and what you’re going to do with it now.

Kim: Okay. So, Dreamer’s child started as an NGO, um … For breaking the silence against child abuse, sexual. Women and child abuse. So, it started with me breaking my silence with you, many years ago on Carte Blanche, which was a big Change Moment. I think I had just gotten married, a year after I got married to Rowan. And so it was an NGO where I would go around and do talks with women with children, schools, different age groups, teachers, and it was about breaking the cycle of the silence, which is the great perpetrator of this evil, this ill. Dreamer’s Child has now evolved, um … Dreamer’s Child eventually became, um … When I resuscitated the old Theatre in Cape Town, it became a production company and now Dreamer’s Child is a fully-fledged production company. We are, I’m producing my first full-length feature film with M-Net. So, I am employing people now. So, it is empowering people now. I’m, I’m doing it in collaboration with one of my best friends, Clint Brink on The Brink Productions. And I, I was with another company before Afrikaans, but I dissolved my partnership because I felt it was time that I do this on my own. And I was ready. And it feels like I’m ready to … And you know, Jan Du Plessis was the same guy who gave me a shot 20 years ago when my boyfriend was killed, and they didn’t think I could do the show. And Jan said, “give this girl a go she can do it”. I say to them, I can do this. 20 years later, he’s doing the same thing and it’s wonderful to see people believe in you still yet. So, Dreamer’s Child has gone from strength to strength, Ruda. And it’s so, it’s just … Yeah, and so many times …

Ruda: What’s your movie about?

Kim: The movie is, the movie’s called Barrack Street. It’s an action-comedy. It’s, it’s based, loosely based on the old police academy idea, but it’s … The comedy’s obviously far more slick. I, myself, Clint, and Ricardo Arendse wrote this idea, wrote the screenplay. It was Clint and I; it was our idea and then we brought Ricardo into head write for us. But it’s comedy, it’s set in Cape Town. And it’s about it’s about rehabilitation camp for defected and delinquent police officers. And it’s a, it’s funny, and I am just, I’m so proud of it. It’s four years in the process now and M-Net came, they were like, we want, we want. So, so that’s what I’m busy with now. I’m learning how to produce, I know everything about CIPC and NAVF, if you ask you didn’t you need to any, any answers you asked me. So, it’s hard work but I’m I love being the students. I love being the students, yeah.

Ruda: Kim, we have talked a lot about, about personal stuff as well. But to focus more on that, after that very traumatic experiences as a child and then running away from home and having to make that a complete break, you decided you wanted to reconnect, why?

Kim: Um … Ruda, um … One reason? Two reasons. One was, my brother had, has two kids, a little girl who is my doppelganger, Leah. Um … very spirited child. My mom always says she, she is me as a kid. Um … and a little boy. And I, I um … I needed to make my presence known in the family again. I needed to make sure that nothing happens to them. Regardless, if anyone believes me or doesn’t believe me, I didn’t really care. At this stage, I don’t care. Um … I needed my presence to be known. And it was very scary because I hadn’t seen my stepdad in a long time. 17 years, I think, at the time. And it was one of the most profound experiences, I think I also needed, I needed, I needed my peace back. I needed peace for the first time, and I had been in and out of therapy for, since I left home, I’ve been very actively engaged in my process. I’ve been very vocal about it. Um … over the years have become more sensitive about the story because I now know it doesn’t just affect me It affects my brother, it affects everyone, and the kids are growing up. I’ve said my piece now I need to do the work. Um … And I went home, after 17 years, Ruda and I was very scared. I almost turned around and because that child, child-like fear crept back into me as a as a 38-year-old. I was, ek was bang, I was 37 and as we pulled into our driveway, my mom didn’t know I was coming. He was my stepdad had been diagnosed with cancer. He went into remission, it came back. So he was, he was not well. And I walked into that house, Ruda. As an adult for the first time, and everything looked small. The room looked small; the furniture looked small. And it was so symbolic of what was really happening. Everything had become small because I had been dealing with it. I was a giant now, I was not the scared little girl anymore. And I saw my mom and I greeted my mom, and I greeted my brother, my brother knew I was coming. And it was it was important for my brother too, because he’s, he’d been in the middle all this time, you know, very loyal to me loves his dad can’t imagine what that must have been like for him. And I didn’t know what my approach would be. I didn’t even know what I would say. I didn’t know what I would even say, Mr Nicholas? Desmond? Dada. I used to call him dada because, for the first part of my childhood, I loved this person. He was my dad. I thought he loved me; he was a great dad. Besides all this other split part of his personality, this darkness came out at night. Um … and it was the profound thing. I walked into that room and this man that I feared for all my life, even up until that moment, was this small, little, frail man sitting in the bed. I looked at him and I heard myself, and it was … I’m not religious, but something divine happened in that moment, something bigger than me, happened in that moment. I heard myself go, “Hello, Dada”. And he reached out his hands and he started sobbing, and I went around the bed and I sat next to him. And I took him in my arm, like this… And I held him, and he sobbed. And this man was sobbing and whaling, and whaling. And I hear myself saying, “it’s gonna be okay”, and I truly meant that. I truly, truly meant that. I truly, truly meant that. I truly meant that. And, he sat back, and he said, “did it have to be so ugly?” and I said, “listen, I am here to give you peace. I am here to give myself peace. I am letting it go, I am letting you go, I am letting myself go, here. But, do not, for one minute, think that what happened to me, didn’t happen. Because I am the person sitting here, fighting for normality, every single day of my life. So, yeah! It did happen. But I forgive you and it’s all good”. And I put myself to the test, I put myself to the test. I thought, “did I just do this for my brother? Did I just, every time he went for chemo, I would call him, to see how he was. “How are you feeling, are you okay, dada? I’m sorry you are not so lekker”. When he died, I just missed his death. I was flying, I broke my hand on the car console and I mourned him. Ruda, I found, in my short lifespan. At the age of 37, I found profound forgiveness. I had really forgiven this man, I never thought it was possible, I really didn’t. I really, really didn’t. But it was the most beautiful thing I could have given myself. And three months later he was dead. He was gone, and I got my family back, got my mom back, I got my brother back. It was … Yeah. It’s been an incredible journey.

Ruda: Kimmy, and since then. Just one last I can’t let you go without. Um … Since then, you’ve met Murray, who is now really the, the, the … He sounds as if he is your rock, your strength. How did that happen and what does it mean?

Kim: So, Mars and I met many years ago. I was still married, he was still married, we were all friends, you know. Mars and did a play together, we always got on really well. He is this really big Scot man, he’s rude, he’s funny. He’s got the best sense of humour, always laughed around him. When I came back from Cape Town, I, I, got divorced. A year later, I think he got divorced. I moved down to Cape Town for five years, I came back in 2016. Mars called, Mars and friends called me for my birthday, and we said we were gonna hook up for drinks. That same week, I bump into him at a garage, and we like, “okay cool, listen, dude, let’s do this. Let’s go to the gin joint in Parkhurst”. We sat until about … 3:30 that morning, just catching up. We always had a great rapport. And about a week later, every day he called, he was on a golf tour with his friends. I’m like, “why is this bruh calling me? When he is on a golf tour with his friends?”. I’m like uh-uh, something’s up here and we went on a lunch date, just to …  I knew he was hungover; he came back from Durban. I said, “you said you are taking me out for lunch”. September 11th, [inaudible], midday. And um … That day I said, listen, is something up? Yes, something’s definitely up”. “I think this is a bad idea, we have a lot of friends in common, including my ex-husband and I’m still very close with Row”. We are all close friends. Lots of love is still there. So, this is a bad idea, it’s not gonna be a fling. If it has to happen, it’s gonna be epic. So, I don’t think we are ready for that and then, he kissed me. And then we got lekker tipsy that night, he said you shouldn’t drive home, you should stay over. And I stayed over. And I never left, he didn’t say for how long. And then, I met his mom, who is just the most profound woman I have ever met. I met his mom years before I met him. Um … She is from Manchester, midwife. Um … ran the [inaudible] society, unforgettable human being, Margarete Tartcher And, she was the first woman who … I was the first woman that she … He said, “you know, my mom is cold, she’s not tactile, she doesn’t hug, she’s doesn’t …” His mother used to kiss me on the mouth, she used to say, “I love you, my girl”. Um … He goes, “Whaaaat?”. And, a year later she passed away, I think she was ready to go cause she knew he was gonna be okay. And a year later, he proposed, and he is, he’s my [inaudible]. This man has seen the worst of me and he’s still here. He makes me laugh, at that, I pee in my pants. No, but literally pee in my pants. He is the most loyal human being, and I sometimes feel like I don’t deserve him. Just because, it’s so easy to go there. But I do, I do. We’ve created the most beautiful home and he’s, he’s right there. He’s got me, he’s got me.

Ruda: Kimmy, that’s a very, very happy note, on which to say goodbye. Thank you so much for sharing time and sharing your stories and all of the very best. We’ll be looking out for that movie.

Kim: Thank you so much, Ruda. I, ugh man! I just love talking to you, you always just know when to show up. I really do, I really love talking to you. Thank you!

Ruda: Thank you! And to everyone who watched this, go away. Have a happy, joyful life.

Ruda Landman

Ruda Landman

Ruda Landman is known to many South Africans as one of the original co-anchors of Carte Blanche on M-Net, a role she fulfilled for 19 years and for which the University of Stellenbosch awarded her an honorary doctorate in 2011.

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