“I guess we all need someone to
love,” Olwethu said, and suddenly
he was serious. “She must be
lonely with your dad gone. You
can’t blame her for wanting some
“But Zakes? You think she’d have
“She did seem to pick the rotten
apple in the basket,” Olwethu
smiled again. “Rotten in the core,
with a sweet exterior. Wait till she
bites into the bad part. She’ll spit
him out really quickly.”
“Do you think so?”
“It’s just a matter of time. I just
hope she doesn’t get hurt in the
meantime. But talking of hurt…” He
turned to Ntombi and rested his
fingers on her arm.
“I’m fine,” she said. She really
didn’t want to talk about Mzi. She
still wasn’t sure how she felt.
Olwethu hesitated; it was like he
wanted to ask her something but
couldn’t think of the right words.
“Ntombi…” he started.
“What is it?” Ntombi suddenly felt
“I have to go away for a few days.
You know what I told you about
Zakes and the cars? Well, the police
came around again, asking more
“Yes?” Ntombi didn’t like where
this was going.
“Well, my uncle made a decision
yesterday. He went to the police
and told them what had
happened. It was a dangerous
thing to do, because if Zakes found
out… but he couldn’t live with it
anymore. Now the police are
planning to catch Zakes and his
gang red-handed. They are just
waiting to catch them when they
bring the next cars in to be spray-
painted. One of the policemen is at
my uncle’s garage right now,
dressed as a mechanic…”
“Oh God,” said Ntombi.
“That’s why I have to go away. I
don’t want to, but my uncle
insisted. It’s for my safety and the
safety of my family. If Zakes and
his gang find out that I know
something, or if they find out
about the police, they will come
for revenge. Do you understand?
Zakes might not seem all that bad,
but when someone crosses him
and his amajita, you don’t want to
“I’m really sorry,” said Ntombi. She
didn’t know what else to say.
Somehow, because of her mother,
she felt responsible.
“It’s not your fault. Your mother
doesn’t know anything about this.
But it’s really important that we
just act normal, like nothing’s
happened, for a little while longer.
You can’t tell your mother
anything – not till Zakes is safely
“I understand,” said Ntombi. “Is
there anything I can do?”
“Yes, there is,” said Olwethu. “I
want to be able to check on you
and your family to make sure you
are okay. And I want you to have
my number. I want you to promise
me that you will phone, if anything
Ntombi went to fetch her
cellphone, switched it on and
added Olwethu’s number to her
contact list then SMSed him hers.
Suddenly, a message popped up on
her screen. She tried to hide the
expression on her face from
Olwethu – the message was from
When Olwethu had gone, Ntombi
stood at the door and read the
Hy gal..srry hvnt spoken 4 so long-
lent my sista my fone wen she
went 2 hospital- cnt w8 2 c u – lot I
nid 2 tl u…
Ntombi felt relieved. So that was
why he hadn’t SMS’d her. He’d
leant his phone to his sick sister.
But he wanted to see her again,
and he wanted to talk. That was
good, everything would be
explained. There had been a
reason why he hadn’t called. A
Before she had a chance to reply to
Mzi’s message, a silver BMW
cruised down the road towards
her. Surely it was too early for
church to be out already? The car
pulled up, and Ntombi expected to
see Zakes get out smiling, now
that he had tried to buy his
forgiveness. She could just imagine
him in church trying to make a
deal with God: “If you forgive me
God, I promise to only hijack one
more car… seriously…”
But it wasn’t Zakes who got out of
the car. It was Mzi, and he was
holding a huge bunch of roses.