‘I Am All Girls’ is a South African crime drama centered around two women fighting to bring down an international child trafficking syndicate. In a move that is equally powerful symbolically and as a storytelling tool, the two protagonists’ approach to bringing down the sinister network is at complete odds. Whilst Jodie (Erica Wessels) is a cop, her partner and fellow crusader against child trafficking is Ntombizonke (Hlubi Mboya), who moonlights as a masked serial killer.
With layers of seeming real-life incidents, historic atrocities, and thriller storytelling elements all packed together, the movie is a fitting vehicle for its weighty subject matter. If ‘I Am All Girls’ left you with more than a few questions, we’re here to help answer them! SPOILERS AHEAD.
I Am All Girls Plot Synopsis
‘I Am All Girls’ opens with Ntombi watching an interrogation recording of Gert de Jager, a child trafficker arrested in connection to 6 girls that went missing in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1994. The girls were never found, and Gert goes on to state that there were many more — around 40 — that he abducted on the orders of a high-ranking minister. For the rest of the film, we see the photographs of each of the six missing girls every time Ntombi executes someone involved with the international child trafficking syndicate.
Jodie, a special agent on the trail of child traffickers in Johannesburg, is then seen raiding a suspected hideout but is too late. She and her team discover cages used to store trafficked children, but the perpetrators escape. Later, when the dead body of a retired minister, who was a suspected pedophile, is found in the park with initials carved into his chest, Jodi begins to suspect that the murder is connected to the missing girls from many years ago.
When another dead body, this time of a pimp involved in child trafficking, shows up, we realize that it is Ntombi who is killing the criminals and leading Jodie towards the center of the international smuggling ring. After a few prominent arrests, including those of a pastor and a school principal, Jodie’s colleague Arendse begins to suspect that someone on the investigation team is working separately and killing off the traffickers. Jodie, realizing that she tells Ntombi about her casework, begins to suspect her.
Ntombi is also a forensic specialist with the police and is usually seen working at crime scenes, sometimes belonging to the murders that she has committed herself. Jodie, in order to confront Ntombi, takes her on a drive, and they follow a recently released trader called Salim Khan, who is responsible for transporting children in his shipping containers. When Ntombi refuses to admit to being the vigilante, Jodie gets agitated and crashes their car into Salim’s.
I Am All Girls Ending: Does Jodie Become the New Vigilante?
After a horrendous crash in which their car rolls over, Jodie is left unconscious. As Salim’s men approach the car, Ntombi shoots them and kidnaps Salim. Later, when Jodie wakes up in the hospital, her boss, Captain George Mululeki, tells her that she is off the force. Unperturbed, Jodie sneaks out of the hospital at night and goes home. There, after watching the video recording of Gert de Jager that Ntombi has left for her, she realizes that Ntombi herself is a victim.
Jodie goes to the house in Brakpan that Gert mentioned in his interrogation and finds Salim and his brother Pharwaz murdered by Ntombi. She then notices a plane landing on the adjoining airfield and realizes that the high-ranking minister, under whose orders Gert was working, is at that very moment in the process of an illegal deal with the Arabs. Her partner, Arendse, who has followed Jodie, confronts the minister and is killed by his men. Soon after, Ntombi, who also gets involved in the gun battle, is killed.
Near the end of the movie, we see a very different Jodie from the one we’ve seen throughout the film. A cold-blooded hunter of human traffickers, she first ambushes the minister in his house and kills him, carving Ntombi’s initials on his chest. Then, in the closing scenes of ‘I Am All Girls,’ we see her catching a flight to Iran on her way to apprehend the men the minister was seen dealing with. So has Ntombi passed on the baton to Jodie as the new vigilante?
It seems so. From the start of the movie, we see that Jodie does not have much luck apprehending criminals through conventional routes. On more than one occasion, she falls into trouble for not following police protocol, which ends up endangering their operation against child traffickers. This point is specifically told to Jodie by her captain and Ntombi on multiple occasions, but Jodie forges ahead, claiming she will “do whatever needs to be done.”
It’s easy to imagine that after watching Ntombi make quick work of the notorious child traffickers by murdering them, whilst being frustrated by the complexities of the legal system herself, Jodie decides to switch over and take the reins as the new vigilante against child traffickers. This is only emphasized when we see Jodie wearing Ntombi’s hooded trenchcoat when she goes to murder the minister.
Jodie is also a fitting candidate to take the reins from Ntombi, at least more than any other character that we see. Apart from Ntombi, she is easily the most passionate agent on the force about bringing the traffickers to justice. Most of her colleagues, including her boss, have a much more clinical and detached approach to it and are not as invested as Jodie. She also mentions in passing that she feels as if the victims of child trafficking are her children.
Hence, Jodie has a very deep and passionate vested interest in the fight against trafficking. We know that Ntombi’s motivation for murdering traffickers comes from her own experiences as a victim of child trafficking, and though Jodie did not go through the ordeal herself, her empathy towards the victims makes her a fitting vigilante to take Ntombi’s place.
It’s also interesting to note how, immediately after becoming a vigilante, Jodie raises the scope of the battle against child traffickers by heading to Iran to track down the minister’s Arab associates, who are seen taking the delivery of young girls. Whereas Ntombi only killed those within South Africa, Jodie has taken the fight international, which is the actual scale of the scourge of human smuggling. How successful she will be in that fight remains to be seen. However, in the closing scene, she does seem to have the confidence of someone with a winning plan.
Are Ntombi and Jodie Lovers?
Throughout the movie, we see flashbacks that solidify that Ntombi is a victim of child trafficking herself. Picked up by Gert de Jager and brought to the minister’s notorious house in Brakpan where he takes delivery of trafficked children, she is abused and eventually given to a brothel. We then see flashes of her time at the brothel, where she begins to train herself to fight and also starts studying from a young age.
The last we see of young Ntombi is when she is in her teens and gets an envelope in the mail. Though we are never shown what is in the envelope, it is almost certainly a letter from an educational institute where she has earned a scholarship as a result of her autodidacticism whilst at the brothel. The fact that she grows up to become a forensic expert (apart from being a vigilante), a job that requires significant scientific knowledge, means that Ntombi went on to become highly educated.
We also know that she changed her name during this time to Ntombizonke Bapai, which she says means “all girls.” Considering that she is one of the six abducted girls that the film is centered around, her original name was Yvette Rossouw. The names of the other five victims seen whenever Ntombi kills are Tarrynlee, Frances Hughes, Jenna Hartley, Olivia Booysen, and Abigail Viljoen.
Ntombi’s relationship with Jodie also seems to be an intimate one, and they are seen expressing affection for each other. It is not clear whether they are lovers, but given Ntombi’s past, it is most likely a complicated physical dynamic that the two share. We get a subtle hint of this when Jodie reaches to touch Ntombi’s feet whilst they are on the couch at home, and Ntombi pulls her feet away. Jodie also tells Ntombi that she loves her, something that is not reciprocated until the end of the movie with Ntombi’s dying words.
The two are also not seen to be sharing much of their past with each other, as Ntombi’s history as a victim catches Jodie off guard. All things considered, it is most likely that Jodie and Ntombi have not known each other for too long, possibly because Ntombi is relatively new to the force. Though the two share a deep bond, it most likely stems from their shared empathy for the victims of child trafficking. Over the course of the movie, we see them reconcile their polar opposite approaches until Jodie essentially “becomes” the new Ntombi.
How Many People Has Ntombi Killed?
The first murder that we see Ntombi commit is that of a retired minister. Her confident approach makes it look like she is well-practiced at stalking and abducting people. This would mean that she has done this before and has killed multiple people previously. The fact that she has a specific outfit to commit the deed further supports this theory. However, it is interesting to think about why she didn’t murder the pimp, who she knew to be an active human trader, earlier.
Ntombi’s kill history is a complicated one that’s difficult to pin. However, it is clear that she only started carving initials on the chest of her victims much later. In all probability, the retired minister was the first victim that she carved the initials into. As we see, the initials eventually became clues that led Jodie to uncover multiple members of the child trafficking syndicate in South Africa. Hence, Ntombi most likely adopted this modus operandi specifically to help Jodie with her case. This could also mean that Ntombi had planned the process all along and that what we see in the film was all part of her plan to help authorities uncover the crime ring that victimized her and countless others.
Read More: Where Was I Am All Girls Filmed?