“Guys, national has sent an urgent command,” says Ncube. “I have been asked to establish a task team to handle the most serious cases in Umlazi. The team will feature four detectives and a technology expert. I have appointed the expert already. Two other detectives as well. So, there are two spots left.”
Gloria lights up, but this announcement stresses Zandile even further. She squints in concern instead of smiling and grabbing this opportunity. Commander Ncube sees this.
“It will be longer hours but the pay will increase significantly,” he says, looking straight at her. “Plus, you get the opportunity to solve complex cases with the best resources at our disposal. I have already been given a list of several interesting unsolved cases”
“Count me in, Commander,” says Gloria.
“Thank you, Gloria. And you, Zandile?” asks Commander Ncube.
“I have a lot on my mind, Commander. I’ll have to discuss it with my fiancé first.” She raises her hand to show the engagement ring.
“Congrats, Detective! I’ll need an answer by tomorrow morning. I will have to consider someone else for the position if you take too long, because I need to send the answer back to national by the end of business day tomorrow.”
Zandile is home, cuddled next to Bongani on the sofa. He changes to the news channel after their favourite soapie, Isibaya, has ended.
To their surprise, they see celebrity chef, Dumi Zulu, popularly known as ‘Kasi Chef’, dead centre of the screen. Kasi Chef is usually composed in his TV cooking program and interviews. The person they see on the TV screen is totally different – Kasi Chef is dishevelled, his eyes bloodshot. He is close to tears. A caption below his face reads: ‘Wife of Kasi Chef missing’. Bongani turns up the volume.
“Please help me find my wife,” he says, holding up a picture of the woman. “I have not heard from her in two days. If anyone has clue, if anyone has seen her, please come forward. My details are on screen. If you have any information, please help me. Please go to your nearest police station”
Bongani and Zandile – and most people in the country – watch Kasi Chef’s programme. He has a huge social media following. In Umlazi he is a celebrity because he is a local boy who made it big. His cook books are bestsellers. Zandile has cooked many meals from Kasi Chef’s recipes.
She calls Commander Ncube. “Commander, are you watching this?” she says when he picks up.
“Yes, Detective, but I’m not at home. I’m in the office with the rest of the Task Team. We have been given this case.”
“What do you have so far?” asks Zandile.
“It seems to be a strange disappearance.”
“How so?” asks Zandile.
“Unfortunately, I can only share that information with members of the Task Team. I’m still waiting for your decision. Are you joining us, Detective? There’s only one spot left.”
Zandile glances at Bongani. He carries the kids, who have fallen asleep on the sofa, to their bedroom. Zandile feels an urge building inside her chest. An uncontrollable need to investigate, search, solve and find this missing woman.
“Have you talked to your fiancé and come to a decision?” asks Commander Ncube.
“Count me in, Commander,” she says. “That last spot is mine.”
Tell us what you think: How is Bongani going to react to this decision?