Meet Sindi. From a distance she might seem like your normal average township teen girl but her story is one of epic proportions. Sindi comes from one of the poorest households in her township. She’s only 16yrs old yet she had to drop out of school and spend all her days collecting scrap to look after her family. She lives with her grandparents who are above 60yrs of age and are unemployed and do not have any means of generating  income into the household. She lost both of her parents at a young age in a vehicle accident.

She also lives with her two older brothers, but they don’t contribute anything in the household except for new born babies every now and then. Both her brothers are heavy drug-users and are very often if not always, on the run from cops or most of the township drug dealers. The two of them were notorious around the township for the methods they used to get their next fix. They were famously known for their dodgy-ways of making a quick- buck.

On most occasions one would spot them at the local mall, pretending to be deaf or blind and asking people to make donations for their charity organisation for the disabled. What made it very easy for them to trick people was their amazing acting-abilities. While on one hand these two were finding it is easy to make a lot of money to support their drug habit, Sindi on the other hand was finding it very difficult to make a decent amount to put food on the table.

Although she was happy do to anything to help her family get through the hard-times, her heart was never content with the life she was living. Since from an early age, Sindi always wanted to be an author, writing fiction had always been the pill that kept her sane through the crazy times she would go through in her life.

Her writing was so good that most of the time her brothers would steal her work and sell it to a local publisher for hundred bucks, and the work would always get published without her knowledge. At this point in her life, all she could look forward to was putting food on the table and making sure her brothers don’t steal and sell their grandparents valuable possession to get more drugs.

Although Sindi did not approve of her brothers’ ways of making and spending their  money, she was a very observant person by nature and taught herself a lot of lessons by observing them. One of things she taught herself was working hard every day and never taking a day-off unnecessarily. This was the principle that led her to always coming back home with a little something, even when the others whom she picked up scrap with came with back with nothing.

Another important lesson she received was that, most of the time you have to do what you don’t want in order to get what you want. And even though she did not want to pick up scrap for a living, it was something she had to do in order to put food on the table.

As time went on, her brother’s addictions became much more of a risk towards the whole family. Most of the drug-dealers they owed now knew where they lived, and from time to time they would come to the house to demand their monies.

If they did not get this from her brothers they would just take anything else they see as valuable in the house. What was even worse was that they would beat up Sindi’s grandparents up, and on two or three occasions they even tried to rape Sindi, but luckily she always had a smart plan to escape. On many occasions Sindi’s grandparents tried to kick her brothers out but they would never go away, and if they tried to call the police, these two would run away for two to three days then comeback as if nothing happened.

Even though Sindi’s grandparent’s health was not so good, they decided to start going to pick up scrap with her to try and release some of the weight on her young shoulders.

Now while everyone else was gone during the day, the two brothers stayed behind and caused havoc in the community. Because their smart schemes at the mall were no longer working, they resorted to petty-crimes that included stealing a lot from friends and neighbours. At all times they knew the whereabouts of everyone who lived nearby, and as soon as people left their houses for work, the two brothers would pounce on their yards.

They started small by stealing everything that was left lying around in people’s yards, including their laundry and pets. As this went on and people gradually started noticing that some of their belongings were nowhere to be found, this led them to start safe guarding their belongings and clearing their yards before they left for work.

When the brothers noticed that there were no more easy pickings left lying around in the yards, they decided it was now time to break into the house. Because the drugs had caused them severe weight-loss, they agreed that they would use their weight as an advantage to enter into the houses and not force.

They also agreed that they would not carry any weapons so that they won’t harm anyone. It was summer at this time and most people left their house windows open when they went to work so that fresh air would enter.

The two of them knew this very well and they decided they would go to the houses with open windows, and use those windows as their entrance and exit. They then agreed that they would steal small electronic-devices and ornaments so that their escape would be easy and unseen. The first house the planned to break into would be the one next to the bush at the end of their street.

The targeted a house that  belonged to a young woman who was always at work. Luckily for them, she lived alone so no one else would be around when she left.

On the morning of the day of their break-in, everything was going according to plan. Sindi and her grandparents left at their usual time, and soon there were no more school children in the street as school had started. By that time the whole township was as quiet as a ghost town. After sometime of sitting in absolute quietness, they looked at each other, giving each other a head-nod. They both rose to go and complete their mission.

They circled the neighbourhood a few times ensure no one was around to catch them in the act, then finally they decided it was time to go in. They jumped the wall from the bushy side and found themselves in the yard. They went in through the window as planned but, one of them broke it with his lagging foot.

As soon as they were both in the house, they quickly rounded up all the portable devices in sight and stuffed them up in two large black garbage disposable bags. As they were about to leave, one of them saw a safe that was hidden behind a wardrobe and, he decided to go after it. The other brother yelled at him to leave it alone because they had already took everything they needed, even so, he still went for it. As soon as he tried to forcefully pull it out – the alarm went off.

The alarm was so loud that both of them knew they would be in trouble if they didn’t leave immediately, so they both grabbed their bags and made a dash for the window. It was a bit difficult for the first one to make his way through the window with his full bag.

By the time he finally managed to go through the window one of the nearby neighbours had jumped into the yard and was standing in their planned exit path. When the second brother who was making his way out through the window noticed the neighbour, he quickly took a piece of the glass from the broken window and went straight to the neighbour. He slit the neighbour’s throat. Even though they were still in shock about what had just occurred, the alarm was still ringing.

They knew that if they didn’t leave at that very moment they would be caught. So they decided to run back into the bushes to escape. About half an hour later, community members, the police, the paramedics and the owner of the house where all in the yard. The neighbour who had been assaulted during the escape was lucky enough not to have been badly injured as the glass just went a little bit into his skin. The two brothers thought they had killed that neighbour.

The neighbour was able to give details of the whole incident plus the identities of the culprits to the police and the community members. The police said they would carry-out investigations in due time, and they would go in search of the two culprits.

The community members decided that enough was enough, they were tired of criminals always getting away with crimes against them. This time they would take the law into their own hands. On that day it was a Tuesday and everybody knew that Sindi and her grandparents would not be coming back home. Because they would have to spend the whole night at the scrap-yard gate in order to have a decent position in the weighing in line for the next morning.

With this knowledge in mind, the community members decided that they would stake out the house and pulse on the brothers if they decided to try and sneak into their home during the late hours of the night or the early hours of the morning.

At midnight that night as everybody was staking the house, they saw two figures in the dark quietly walking into the yard. Once inside the house, the two didn’t even turn on the lights, which made everyone certain that it was the two brothers. When everybody had their sticks and belts in hand and was ready to attack, an old man came out from his house with a five litre bucket of gas in his hand and said, “Let us burn these dogs so that we send a strong message to all the other thieves and drug users in this community.”

With everyone in agreement with this new resolution they all went ahead to finalize it practically. Once they arrived at the house, they started touching it without notifying the people inside.

When the house started burning inside they heard screaming voices coming from the house which did not sound like the two brothers, but rather they sounded like three powerless people. Most of the people around the burning house just dismissed the sound of the voices with the justification that the two brother’s voices had been altered by the inhaling of smoke and the fear they had inside the burning house, and yet not even a single person was willing to say anything about it out loud.

By the time the house had burnt down it was already morning and people were getting ready to leave the scene. No one had a sense of urgency because they knew that none of them had bothered to call the police or the fire department.

At that very moment the owner of the house which had been broken into received a phone call from the investigating officer in her case. The young lady put the phone on speaker so that all those around could hear the conversation.

The officer said, “Ms, I was just calling you to inform you that the two suspects in this case have both been arrested, we caught them under the train bridge at 3am earlier this morning, they will appear for their bail hearing at the magistrate court on Friday morning. Thank you for your time, and I hope you have a good day.” After hearing this they all turned and looked and the house – with confusion and shock.

No one said anything to the other but by now they all had a slight idea of who those three screams belonged to. After sometime of sitting in disbelief, they all stood up and decided to leave and they thought, what’s done is done.

On their way down the road they saw Sindi approaching from a distance. Most of them were suddenly filled with a lot of internal joy that they could not publicly show. When they saw her coming they presumed her parents would most likely pop up behind her with heavy bags of scrap. Meaning that they actually burnt people who were braking into the house, but that wasn’t the case. When Sindi was close enough they rushed into asking her where her grandparents were. She told them that her grandparents decided to go sleep at home that night because they had picked up a new born baby while going through garbage at the scrap yard.

So they decided it would be better to come and sleep with the baby in the house. All this was a bit confusing for her as they had never shown much her on any of her family members.

As she was about to ask them about the sudden show of interest, one of the people in the crowd came forward and kneeled in front of her to tell her about what had transpired. Before she could even respond, overcome with emotion she just blacked out on the spot. Three days later she found herself waking up in a one person bed, she was hooked up to tubes from her wrists and nostrils.

Then she saw people walking around in white and navy clothes going up and down, also checking up on her tubes. She then noticed a brown envelop placed on her chest, she picked it up and took out the white paper inside. It was a letter which read as follows;

Dear Sindi

If you’re reading this it means you are finally awake and we thank the lord for that, in the 16yrs that you have known us and we have known you, we know we have not been the ideal brothers to you. All you have ever seen from us is our evil and satanic side. We have never, even for one moment, shown you brotherly love. We watched you as a young teen the weight of the world on your young shoulders while we did nothing to help, at all.

Numerous times we have taken advantage of our grandparents and your love and kindness towards us, and now our grandparent’s ashes are mixed with burnt wood all because of us.

All our choices in life led to one big

Even though we just sold your work for a quick fix, we always made sure the copyrights were in your name. And we’ve been told that you are going to receive your first cheque of royalties within the next few days, which we hope will help you get back on your feet once you leave the hospital.

As for us, don’t worry about us.We entered into a plea bargain with the state. All we have to do is to point out all the drug dealers in our community for an exchange of only five years in prison. Honestly, the two of us were good people who just made bad choices. And through it all we never meant to cause harm to anyone. By the time we leave this hell-hole, we hope your heart will have healed and you would have forgiven our sins so that we can start over, all over again. And give you the family you never had.

With love

Themba Thembelani