There it is, Nompumelelo, my township, my home and also my greatest fear. The town is famously known by its nickname “Gqobhasi”, meaning cabbage or dirty. The town is full of izinyoka, meaning illegal connections of electricity. The izinyokas are very dangerous and have killed many people especially the young children. People have to be extra careful when they walk because they might step onto an electric wire and get chocked. Same with those washing their clothes because they might approach an izinyoka wire or the wire might be connected to an izinyoka. These things happen a lot especially in the informal settlements.

In Qgobhasi, shebeens are everywhere the rule of not under the age of 18 doesn’t exist here. Alcohol and drugs have taken over the lives of the youth. If you do not drink or smoke then you are old-fashioned or a coward. Alcohol is very expensive and this leads to many schoolgirls sleeping with any man they see in front of them that can afford alcohol. This has also increased the rate of both females and males getting STIs. Dropping out of school causes our streets to always be full of teens going up and down the streets for no reason. Even though these streets are always full of people walking in them, the streets aren’t safe at all.

There are high rates of unemployment and substance abuse in Nompumelelo. It is the reason behind all the cruel things that are done to people by boys that are waiting in the corners to attack innocent and helpless people. One day as I was walking with a friend of mine from school we were very freezing and very wet because of the rain, but we were loving the yummy smell of the soil.

Then we saw a beautiful, medium sized girl dressed nicely in front of us, walking nicely and softly towards us. Everyone was just looking at her. I guess they were all just admiring her then from out of nowhere a group of four or five boys got to her and start harassing her. Some of the boys started pulling her long weave and she looked terrified, we were all terrified as these guys looked really scary. And then everything happened so fast and she started screaming because these boys started handling her so roughly, but people were too scared to go and help her. No one wanted to be caught looking in that direction because if anyone is caught staring in that direction they will find themselves in great danger. The boys took all her valuables including her Peruvian wig. Watching all that made me disappear into my own world. The whole thing reminded me of what had happened a few years ago when I was in a similar situation, but I only had R20, which they took. Its nothing compared to what this girl lost, but loosing my R20 like that was very painful. I started shivering and was very angry and at the same time tears were flowing down my cheeks.

The following day the same girl was nowhere to be found, her relatives looked for her everywhere, but she had vanished. Two days later a woman who lives in one of the informal settlements areas went to the nearby forest, which they use as a toilet, there she saw a dog with something that looked like a human leg on its mouth. She moved closer approaching the dog and the dog ran away and dropped the leg. She looked around in fear and she saw more burnt stuff. Unfortunately, it was a girl’s body and was later confirmed that it was that of the missing girl.

Prayer and Faith is what keeps me moving. All I can do is keep praying for a better environment and make sure to leave all valuable things at home when I go out and do everything possible to avoid these boys.