Soapie bitch supreme Cherel de Villiers is invincible. Even the all-powerful Barker Haines is uneasy about her return to The Deep.

She was first spotted at Barker and Kimberly's wedding in August. Despite playing the "harmless" card, her malevolent reputation left the residents unconvinced and some, like Farrow, seeking to settle old scores.

But Cherel has bigger fish to fry, more specifically, her ex Barker Haines, whom she holds responsible for her daughter Tanya's suicide. Tanya was born out of incest, which was something Cherel tried very hard to keep from her.

Part of Cherel's master plan was to infiltrate the Le Roux household. Having sunk her claws into the patriarch Braam by drugging his wife Marlien and causing strain in their marriage, she had another problem on her hands. Benjamin, Braam's youngest son, was trying to foil her plans. And so she did what she does best - tried to make the problem go away. But she wasn't as successful as she was with Barker's son Duncan - Benjamin is recovering in hospital.

Asked why Cherel continues on this ruinous path, Botes shrugs.

"This is classic Cherel. That's just her means to get what she needs. She has gone on a journey. Previously, it was a case of survival - she really didn't have a choice with Duncan. This time around, she's lost her |child and she wants revenge, which makes her a very powerful and unpredictable person."

At this stage, Len appears to be Cherel's only ally. Is he still carrying a torch for her?

"His big love was her daughter," explains Botes. "He is one of the few people who understand Cherel. She didn't make the best choices in life but she didn't have the best start. She was pimped out by her father. When she ran away from home, she was raped by the people who were meant to protect her. Her choices were always born out of a need to survive. And she never got fair treatment from anyone. Len is the one who saw the lengths she went to for her daughter - he saw the vulnerable woman in there. They are both irreverent characters and they don't care for society rules."

She adds: "What I find intriguing is the fact that one is unclear about whether Cherel is spurred on by the unfairness or if she is on a power-hungry trip."

Viewers have always found Cherel an enigma, but sometimes she reveals a bit about herself and, in so doing, vindicates herself.

During this tug-o-war with Barker, one has to ask: Did Cherel ever love him? Is she capable of loving a man?

"In life, Cherel was never properly taken care of. Because Barker was rich and powerful, she believed it was love as she equated it with safety. And she thought he could protect her. It was a huge shock when she found that it wasn't so. Viewers are going to see this mad game between them. I guess hate and love are two sides of the same coin and they certainly play this coin," she hints.

With a drugged-up Marlien slowly slipping away into oblivion, I asked Botes if Cherel felt guilty.

"The worst thing is that she loves Marlien. Right now there isn't another way to get what she wants. Braam is the only one who has got what she needs. The question that needs to be asked is: 'How soon will it come back to bite her?'."

But for now Cherel seems confident that her plan is on track.

"Look, she did her research very well. This is an entrenched Afrikaans family. She knows where the weak links are. And she knows they are a strong and proud family unit - they don't speak out. That helps her cause."

Later this month, Barker manipulates Marlien into doing his bidding? but Cherel isn't about to allow him to browbeat her.

"Cherel needs a reason to live and that is what she's latched on to. The amazing thing is her single-mindedness right now. She is unrepentant about any collateral damage. If she can get money without hurting anyone, that's first prize. But it isn't the case. She doesn't want to harm people, but if they don't move out of her way, well so be it?"

Be afraid, be very afraid - Cherel |is seeking blood and not even the vampires of Twilight will be able |to stand in her way.

  • Isidingo is on SABC3 at 6.30pm on weekdays.