Shaun Wilson, Francois Chapman, Renier Louwrens, Anesu Mbizvo and Thoriso M-Afrika in ’Survivor SA: Immunity Island’. Picture: Supplied
Shaun Wilson, Francois Chapman, Renier Louwrens, Anesu Mbizvo and Thoriso M-Afrika in ’Survivor SA: Immunity Island’. Picture: Supplied

5 castmates who are at their cunning best in 'Survivor SA: Immunity Island'

By Debashine Thangevelo Time of article published Jun 3, 2021

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By now, fans of the “Survivor” franchise are familiar with the “outwit, outplay and outlast” game plan.

And many contestants have come into the reality show thinking they have the strategy down to an art form.

Perhaps, they’ve binged countless seasons, spotting weaknesses and identifying strengths and opportunities.

However, understanding the set of tactics is one thing, executing them is another.

And it doesn’t matter how prepared you are going into the game, as the days wear on, the paranoia creeps in, the challenges intensify, it takes a lot to keep that hope and hunger for the win alive.

On Thursday, June 3, viewers got to watch the kick-off episode of “Survivor South Africa: Immunity Island” and it was a shocker.

But that’s the beauty of this reality show - it’s unpredictable. It can be anyone’s game.

At the outset, physicality is a big win for the teams, especially when it comes to building shelter and bringing their A-game during those demanding team challenges.

But that is one part of the battle. You also have to be strategic, too.

This season, Vuna (orange) and Zamba (green) are the two tribes going up against each other.

And for the first time ever, the eighth season of “Survivor South Africa: Immunity Island” was shot on home soil on the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape instead of the usual exotic destination thanks to the outbreak of the coronavirus last year.

Once again, the dashing Nico Panagio takes up the baton as the host. He has been with the show since season three.

Now for a quick overview of the first episode.

Before the shelter was built or the fire started, alliances were forged.

Bitchiness is, of course, par for the course as contestants size each other up.

Marisha du Plessis (35), a guest house owner from Tulbagh, got a few looks from some rivals over her muscular looks. One contestant referred to her as a female version of He-Man. Ouch!

Interestingly, Jason Brookstein (27), a structural engineering draughtsman from Johannesburg, went into the game believing he was going to outsmart everyone.

In fact, he proudly declared: “I’m going to be the greatest ‘Survivor’ player ever.”

Sadly, it wasn’t to be.

Despite “putting his faith in the Devil (Capetonian Shaun Wilson, 40) himself”, his strategic planning, backfired.

What was truly tragic about his torch being extinguished was that he could have saved himself by playing his immunity bracelet.

But he committed a cardinal mistake - trusting strangers in an individual game - and he paid dearly for it. Zamba is one tribe member down now.

Rule of thumb, trust no one, especially when it comes to the Survivors we picked out below.

Behind that charming and unassuming façade, there’s a dangerous cunning in play.

Shaun Wilson

Shaun Wilson. Picture: Supplied

Right at the outset, he revealed his cutthroat nature. Together with Taiwan-born Qieän Wang, they rummaged through the supplies to find the sought-after immunity idol.

Although one person spotted the two, the rest of the Zamba team were oblivious to this.

In fact, Shaun Wilson, by default, kind of became the leader.

While he claims to be honest in his interactions with his fellow castmates, it is questionable. After all, he’s proven his only loyalty is to himself.

And if he has to throw someone under the bus to shift the heat off himself, he will happily do so as we witnessed by him unmasking the duplicitous nature of Dino Paulo, 30.

He was also quick to point out that he has been an invaluable member of the team so far.

He let out a huge sigh of relief when he learned his head wasn’t on the chopping block, as he expected to be voted off.

I’ve no doubt he will be upping the ante to pull the wool over the eyes of his fellow tribe members.

Anesu Mbizvo

Anesu Mbizvo. Picture: Supplied

The 29-year-old doctor, as well as a yoga teacher, from Johannesburg, thinks she is playing her cards right by maintaining an air of mystery.

However, her strategy isn’t exactly foolproof.

Two Vuna tribe members seem to know her well. Wardah Hartley, 39, a yoga instructor and fitness professional from Johannesburg, knows her as they travel in similar circles.

And Kiran Naidoo, 29, a strategy consultant, remembers her from their university days.

But Anesu Mbizvo is forging alliances left, right and centre and has sworn Wardah to secrecy.

Of course, in a game where twists come fast and furious, this deception might come back to bite her.

Renier Louwrens

Renier Louwrens. Picture: Supplied

This 30-year-old chemical engineer from Secunda is proof that looks can be deceiving.

The geeky-looking Zamba tribe member played the game from the get-go when he found the “Tribe Advantage” leather pouch.

When the host asked about it, Renier Louwrens reluctantly admitted to having it in his possession.

He clearly felt it would help him in the long run and kept mum until Panagio pointed out that it secured the tribe some much-needed essentials from Cape Union Mart.

Of course, this immediately made his fellow tribe members wary of him.

And he proved his shrewdness when he backstabbed Jason.

Reneir already revealed a few things in his master plan. He won’t be stepping up as leaders eventually become threats.

Also, he would rather take on a predictable enemy than an unknown enemy.

He is a natural at being artful. Not sure how long he will be able to survive on this gambit but it’s paying off for now.

Francois Chapman aka Chappies

Francois Chapman is better known as Chappies. Picture: Supplied

Real name Francois Chapman, this 32-year-old entrepreneur from Centurion, is loud, cocky and dangerous.

He’s playing a game where he comes across as easygoing with his “winning” personality. After failing to start the fire for Vuna, he did one better - he won the tribe a fire-starting kit. He also received an immunity bracelet - not that he volunteered that information on his return to camp.

His heroic welcome, coupled with his athletic performance during the challenge, has seen the tribe rally around him. He’s a firm favourite so far.

However, Mike Laws, a 32-year-old lawyer from Cape Town, is wary of this sheep in wolves clothing.

He smells deception a mile away. But an oblivious Chappies keeps laying on the charm.

Thoriso M-Afrika

Thoriso M-Afrika. Picture: Supplied

The 36-year-old marketing officer from Uitenhage stood out from the crowd.

When Thoriso M-Afrika found out she was part of the Zamba tribe, she was awash with discontent. She felt like she just didn’t fit in.

While everyone else was bonding, talking strategy and teaming up, she watched with keen interest from the outside.

There was no one she formed an affinity with. And so when Vuna opted to throw her a lifeline as the weakest team member of her tribe, she was grateful.

While not deemed a threat right now, Thoriso is sussing out her competition. This could work to her advantage if she is used as a sway vote.

Thoriso has admitted to finding the social behaviour of the castmates to be a litmus test.

Perhaps, staying below the radar is a strategy that will give her an edge in the game. Who knows.

“Survivor South Africa: Immunity Island” airs on M-Net (DStv channel 101) on Thursdays at 7.30pm.

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