Directed by Donovan Marsh, the South African Netflix action drama film, ‘iNumber Number: Jozi Gold,’ revolves around cop Chili Ngcobo’s investigation of a Gold Gang in Johannesburg that ends up changing his life forever. After another botched persecution, Chili and his best friend, Shoes, conduct an undercover operation where Chili meets Dimo and her siblings. After learning about the siblings’ gold heist mission, Chili finds himself stuck at a crossroads between his duty as a cop and the greater good.
The heist Domi and her siblings plan centers around a shipment of refined gold bars coming into South Africa from Lesotho that belongs to Lerotholi Thoriso I. Although Thoriso I barely has any screen time in the film, his position as the dictator of Lesotho may lead viewers to wonder if he has any relation to an actual dictator from real life. If you’re curious about the same, here is everything you need to know about the same!
Is Lerotholi Thoriso I a Real Dictator?
No, Lerotholi Thoriso I is not based on a real-life dictator. Introduced in the film as the dictator of Lesotho, Thoriso I is known for taking control of the country’s single gold mine. Even though the mine belongs to the people of Lesotho, Thoriso I and his son Thoriso II take raw gold from Lesotho and transport it to South Africa to make personal profits.
When Dimo’s father tries to stand up against him and fuel a rebellion, Thoriso I kills the leader, quelling the rebellion with him. Thoriso I’s actions seem in line with a tyrannical dictator. Nevertheless, he’s not, in fact, based on a real person. Lesotho, Dimo, and her siblings’ home country does exist in real life, but under a constitutional monarchy and not a dictatorship.
Sam Matekane serves as Lesotho’s Prime Minister, currently with Letsie III as the king. Moreover, in real life, Lesotho does not have a commercial gold mine, as suggested by the film. Although Lesotho is known for its mining opportunities, according to RareGoldNuggets, the country has a much more relevant diamond mining industry. Still, gold mines do exist in Lesotho, but South Africa’s nearby gold mines end up stealing the spotlight.
Therefore, it’s safe to assume Lerotholi Thoriso I has no real-life counterpart. His character and the circumstances surrounding his influence on the storyline are all works of fiction by filmmaker Donovan Marsh, who wrote and directed the film. Viewers might be familiar with other fictional dictators in movies and TV, over the years, like Lerotholi Thoriso I.
Most iconic fictional dictators come from imaginative genres like sci-fi and fantasy. Nevertheless, Admiral General Haffaz Aladeen from 2012’s political satire ‘The Dictator‘ remains one of the most memorable fictional dictators in contemporary media. Meanwhile, others like Michael Caine’s General Anton Vincent from ‘Dear Dictator’ and General Gurko Lanen from ‘The Son of Monte Cristo’ also easily make the list.
Although ‘iNumber Number: Jozi Gold’s’ blink-and-you’ll-miss-it dictator hardly appears as memorable, his role in the film proves instrumental. By appearing as the ultimate bad guy, a dictator who steals from his people and commits murder in cold blood, Lerotholi Thoriso I easily and efficiently casts Dimo and her siblings as the good guys in both Chili’s and the audience’s minds. Later, his spoils serve as the impactful good deed Chili needs to be a part of in order to turn his life around.
Ultimately, Lerotholi Thoriso I is not based on a real-life dictator. His character, like his political position and mining practices in Lesotho, are all works of fiction. With no basis in reality, Lerotholi Thoriso I swiftly fulfills his role as a plot device and nothing else.