Where a person lives should be a place where they find comfort and safety in at any time of the day. Now one might ask themselves what happens when all of that changes in a matter of hours.

Mabopane Block U is a hood that is known all around Mabopane for its low crime rate. It was a normal Monday evening, where the boys started playing soccer from 6pm to 8pm at the local ground that is close to my home. From there the normal evening went from its normal busyness to its normal quietness.

At home the routine was also usual – we ate and then I and my aunt’s daughter did the dishes. At 9pm my little sister and I walked my mother to the backroom where she slept. When we came back to the house we found my grandmother taking her pills and my aunt taking her son and herself off to bed. From there me, my little sister and my aunt’s daughter finished up on our schoolwork and then we went to sleep.

By 11pm the whole house was already asleep and just like that Monday was gone. It was a normal day wasn’t it? But what took place in the early hours of Tuesday came as a surprise to everyone.

At 2am on Tuesday the unusualness started to unfold. My mother woke up to visit the bathroom and as soon as she got back in bed she started hearing footsteps from outside, because she was so sleepy she decided to not to pay much attention to it. After a few minutes the footsteps became so loud – a person was walking on the other side of the wall, in the yard of our neighbor – a pensioner who lives on her own.

After that, the sounds escalated further – roof tiles were sliding against each other. Now, who would be fixing a roof that wasn’t theirs at that time of the day? By then my mother was disturbed. She went out of her room and knocked on my aunt’s window to wake her up. She then went to the street to try to see what activity was happening on the neighbour’s roof. A man – in his twenties – was removing the roof tiles to try to gain access to our neighbour’s house.

My mother screamed, “Thusang! Go na le motho modimo ga ntlu.” Then she ran back into the yeard, where we heard her and woke up. By then I was thinking something was happening to her or that the person was on the roof of our home. Luckily she was heard by most of the people living in our street – and also by the person trying to get access via the roof. That person was fast enough to roll down the roof and act like he was running to help after hearing my mother scream. But he didn’t fool anyone as he was easily identifiable.

People from the street caught him and confronted him in our yard. I was watching through the window. Mob justice was so close to happening as he was being confronted, but fortunately for him he was able to punch the hand of the person holding him and run away.

What transpired that day made me wonder what would have happened if the man had tried to be more quiet. What would have happened if he had gained access to the garage? Would I have been telling a different story? Speaking of stories… but that’s a story for another day.