I was born and raised at Jeppes Reef. Jeppes Reef is a small rural town in Ehlanzeni District Municipality in Mpumalanga, South Africa. I’m the last born of three. Phetho, the second born is currently doing his matric, and first born Nomkhosi is doing her first year at the University of Technology in Tshwane, Pretoria.

As it was the festive season everybody who was working or studying far from home had either already been home or was still preparing to come home. Nomkhosi was also coming home that Thursday for the holidays. She wasn’t going to make it home earlier because of a road accident they came across on their way back home, she explained in her phone call with Mama. She asked Phetho to wait for her at the bus station at exactly 22:00.

Jeppes Reef is known for its violence but having not seen Nomkhosi for months removed all the bad stories about the dangers of leaving your house late at night from my mind. I was so happy to be finally having my sister back and I couldn’t wait to hear all the nice funny stories she always tells me when she comes home.

At 21:30 I silently opened the back door. My brother was in the shower at that time. Mama was preparing food for Dad while he sat comfortably in his favourite black leather couch. It was a perfect time to sneak out.

As I was approaching the second street away from home I could smell weed. Weed around here had become the daily bread for some people so I had really become familiar with the smell in such a way that I could smell it from a distance. My body started shivering. I thought of going back home to at least wait for her at home. Stories I’d heard about people going missing came flashing at speed, but thinking about how happy Nomkhosi was, kept me going.

As I approached the third street away from home, and two streets closer to the bus station, I heard a group of boys laughing and throwing words like stones. I started walking like some kind of robot. I switched the torch off hoping, praying, that they wouldn’t see me. As I got closer to them the weed smelled even stronger. It was mixed with a harsh smell of alcohol. One guy from the group stood up. He was wearing black pants with a hoodie that had once been white, but was now dirty and brown. He had a cigarette in his right hand. He stood in the middle of the road blocking me from passing. I begged my legs to keep moving. I begged my soul to be strong. I tried moving to the right. He followed my steps. He started touching my face. I roughly removed his hands. He raised his left hand up, then his friends stood up. They came to where we were standing. They forcefully carried me away from the road. I tried to fight them but I wasn’t strong enough. I tried screaming. One of them took a cloth and roughly placed it in my mouth. I couldn’t hear myself screaming any more. They roughly tore my jacket and they roughly pressed my hands down while some guy wearing a black leather jacket undressed himself. He opened my legs roughly. My track pants tore in two. Just when he was about to throw himself on me I felt my hands going loose. I heard people swearing at each other. Then there was one voice I heard very well, Phetho’s voice.