People don’t change, they reveal who they really are. Mr Malaza was a teacher doing practicals at Sibuyasonkhe High School in Mbombela, Pienaar.
I wondered if Zamile and Thabo did the homework he gave us. He would come around to check our work. Maybe if I went to them I could’ve escaped the position I was in. I wanted to pass no matter what. He got to my desk and paged my book. I only wrote the title homework and the date.
“Maybe it’s time you start questioning yourself, what contribution is your friends bringing in your life? What will you be without a matric certificate? Trial exams are weeks away. You’re smarter than this,” he whispered.
No one liked my friendship with Cwati. With my marks dropping, my parents always asked me to end the friendship with him. But I just couldn’t. Cwati’s parents died in a car accident and his grandmother raised him. Without relatives, life was not easy. He also joined a gang, the Bullet.
Mr. Malaza got to Cwati’s desk and checked his book. “You didn’t write my work. You never do, all you do is ruin other children’s future. Useless.”
“Count your words when talking to me,” Cwati huffed.
The whole class became silent.
“Nx! What did you say?”
“I said count your words when talking to me, freak!” he repeated.
My heart started racing as I knew Cwati’s capabilities.
“I will teach you a lesson,” Mr. Malaza said.
The class started to scream, “Aye…ye! aye…ye!” Followed by desks beating.
“May the worse not happen,” I prayed, as Mr. Malaza was removing his belt.
Cwati roughly grabbed him by his t-shirt and pulled him towards his face. The screaming became louder. Suddenly he let him go. Mr. Malaza covered his chest and went out. But, I saw a chain, it was something like a necklace. Cwati then came towards me, his eyes wide as if someone coming to deliver a fatal blow.
“Sizwe, I’m in deep trouble. I gotta leave town, take this keys and go to my wordrobe. There’s a money bag, take it and meet me at Mkhwanati Lake.”
He was interrupted by the principal’s entrance. Mrs. Nkalanga, the granny who doesn’t want to leave the principal’s chair. Both students and teachers couldn’t resist her behavior.
“What’s this noise you’re making? Can’t you see that you’re adults now, you’re supposed to set a good example to the school,” she said. “Kneel down and apologise one by one.”
She can’t be serious, I thought.
“12A, I said kneel down!”
We mumbled, and kneeled except for Cwati.
“I won’t kneel or even apologise to anyone,” he said and went out.
“Sizwe, Thabo and Khaya, go get him,” she commanded.
We went out I decided tell Mr. Malaza everything. He said it must be a secret including Cwati’s tale. We went to Cwati’s house, took the money bag, it had blood stains on it, coincidentally his granny was not home.
It got windy as we got to Mkhwanati Lake. Cwati was waiting there with a plastic bag packed with clothes. He saw us and got out a pistol from his pocket while approaching.
“Guys, it’s better that you go back,” I said.
“No Sizwe, we’re in this together,” Zamile insisted.
“And then? What are these dogs doin’ here! Why did you bring them with you Sizwe?”
“The principal wanted us to bring you back to school, I brought them so she wouldn’t suspect that I was hiding something. Here’s your money.”
He pointed the gun towards us.
“I can’t let you go just like that, how do I know if you’re not goin’ to get me arrested?”
“Cwati, we don’t even know where you are going man. We’re bros, we won’t do such a thing.”
“Oh, yes you will.”
I could see his hand slowly pulling the trigger.
“Cwati, wait and listen.”
I remembered Mr. Malaza’s words.
“I’m an undercover officer tasked with investigating the Bullet gang, Cwati must be arrested. Go and hold him off while I call for backup.”
“Who dies first?” he asked.
“You don’t have to do this.”
Silence struck us, and gunshot! Cwati fell to ground screaming and I kicked his gun. It was Mr. Malaza, he saved us.
Cwati crawled to escape.
“Cwati! Give up, you’re under arrest for theft and attempted murder.”
I didn’t lose a friend that day, I just realized I never had one.
Tell us: Do you believe that it is important to choose your friends wisely?