Lerato and her mom Julia were the definition of poverty. Their life was always on the hard side of things: sometimes they would sleep without eating, they just drank water, that was their supper. Lerato was 15 years old. She dropped out of school when she was 12 because her father assaulted the school principal, so she was expelled while her father was sent to prison.

“Lerato my child…?” her mom said, sitting on the brick that was supposed to be a couch in their one-roomed shack.

“Yes, mom,” Lerato replied, looking at her curiously.

“I need to tell you something. I went to the clinic last week and I was diagnosed with a brain tumour. The doctors said I need surgery and it’s going to cost a lot of money,” she said, looking at her daughter with disappointment.

“What’s a brain tumour, mom?” Tears were starting to fill up Lerato’s eyes when she asked this.

“You won’t understand my child, just know that I’m dying soon.”

Lerato didn’t know how to act or what to say. She cried like a three year old crying for milk. Lerato and her mother were just sitting in their shack thinking about life; why did they have to be the ones to go through so much pain?

“Lerato, my child, can you go to the shop to buy some painkillers? I’m not feeling so well.”

“But mom, aren’t we supposed to be saving money for your surgery?”

“Yes, my child, but we will never come up with so much money. Just accept that I’m dying soon.”

Julia gave Lerato money to buy the painkillers. Lerato felt like her mother had already given up, but she went to the shop anyway. She took longer than Julia expected.

“Why did you take so long to come back, Lerato?” Julia asked, taking the pills.

“I was doing something, mom, and I think you will like it,” she said, taking out a brown plastic bag filled with money.

“Lerato, where did you get this money?!” Julia shouted at her daughter.

“I just got it, mom. It’s for your surgery. Please do the surgery with it and I will tell you where I got it afterwards.”

“No, tell me…”

Before Julia could finish her sentence, there were police cars surrounding the shack.

“What’s happening?” Julia asked, stepping outside.

“Please don’t go, mom, please!”

Lerato did everything possible to stop her mother from going outside, but she eventually did.

“Sorry, ma’am. We are looking for a girl called Lerato. Does she live here?” one of the policemen asked.

“Yes, she lives here. I’m her mother. What’s happening?”

“Your daughter killed an old man earlier today and she stole R60 000 cash from him, so unfortunately she’s under arrest.”

“No, that’s not possible! My daughter is not a criminal. Who’s the man you are talking about?”

“His name is John Makau,” the officer said.

“No, no, no. That’s not possible. That man is Lerato’s father and he’s in jail.”

Julia felt like she was dreaming.

“I’m afraid to tell you he was released last month. Your daughter is under arrest for murder and robbery!”

Lerato came out to see what was happening.

“Speak of the devil. Care to explain what your intentions were with the murder you committed earlier?” the policeman asked, looking at Lerato.

“I have nothing much to say, detective. I did it for my mom.”

Lerato was arrested.


Tell us: Do you support the decision Lerato made in order to save her mom?