A child plays in the streets of Alexandra township, north of Johannesburg. Two-thirds of Cast the First Stone will be shot in Alexandra and the rest in Soweto.

Johannesburg’s townships have been plagued with protests, xenophobia and crime. Cast the First Stone, a film currently being shot in the city’s Alexandra township, sets to examine the causes of – and solutions to – these problems.

Cast the First Stone is directed by award-winning drama and filmmaker Shaft Moropane, who helmed Tsha-Tsha IV and 90 Plein Street, as well as music videos, commercials and corporate videos. It was scripted by Goodenough Mashego, Shaft Moropane and Andrew Herod and commissioned by pay-TV channel Mzansi Magic.

The movie takes its title from the Bible, in which, in John 8:7, Jesus intervenes in a criminal’s execution by stoning with the words, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

Cast the First Stone shows how a community is dealing with the scourge of crime unleashed by young people who have nothing better to do. It follows the story of Bongani (Motlatsi Mahloko), a university student who suddenly finds himself out in the streets after his varsity funding is discontinued. Bongani returns to an Alexandra plagued by violence and gangs, with little value placed in human life.

At the same time a new priest who has just taken over the local parish aims to restore the image of the township. He is an idealist whose lack of pragmatism is often tested by locals such as Bra Torch (Maswabi Legwale) and the deacon. The priest suddenly finds himself caught up in the violence of the township, regardless of his attempts to remedy it, when his faith is tested when his niece Lesego is abducted and raped.

Starring in the film are Jeffrey Sekele (Nazareth in Jerusalema) who plays Father Nicholas, Vuyo Dabula (Yizo-Yizo 3, Isidingo) as the Deacon, Tu Nokwe and kwaito star Kagiso “Gwyza” Diseko.

Two-thirds of the film will be shot in Alexandra and the rest in Soweto.

The filmmakers hope the film – with the logline “If you want to change the world, first allow change within” – will help give a voice to the people of Alexandra.