Nozie followed and knew she had her where she wanted her. “So if she does well in school she’ll get R2000 a month till she’s finished Matric?”

“Yes, that’s why you must tell me what’s going on with her so I can make sure your family doesn’t lose out of that money.” This lie was so good that Nozie felt comfortable telling it, she believed it herself.

“She was always a good child you know, never had trouble with her all these years. Even when Vusi came to stay here she understood.” She paused and felt the need to explain. “Vusi is my boyfriend, he works and he buys food for us and makes sure we’re happy. He drinks sometimes and he’s not always nice when he’s drunk. But Nora was always sweet with him and she cooked and brought him food and treated him well, like her real dad.” She stopped again and shook her head. Then her voice went from hoarse to almost inaudible. “It’s all those bloody stories she tells from school.”

“What stories, what does she say?”

“She started talking about a teacher that fancied her and showed her attention. Vusi told her she was dreaming and always laughed at her. But she’s a pretty girl, a bit fat, but pretty. I told her to stop telling these stories coz they made Vusi angry you know.”

“Did she say what the teacher’s name was?”

“Naa, she just stopped talking to us and one day she came home crying and wouldn’t eat or talk to anyone. It’s annoying when you live in a one room shack and you got a mute crying child, sets Vusi off. So she would just come home and cry and cry. My little bundle of joy was gone, and I got a bundle of tears instead.” Now the woman was in tears, Nozie could only tell because she kept sniffing and kept her face away from Nozie.

“Now she’s just mad at everyone, mad at me I think. But I can’t do anything with Vusi being the bread winner, we need him you see.”

Now she was howling and Nozie gave her some tissues and comforted her. She thanked the woman and assured her all will be well and she went on her way. It was gonna be tricky but she had to do something this time around.

She couldn’t just watch a young life being destroyed, action needed to be taken. She made her way to the main road and took a taxi to town. While she sat in the taxi she fished out her cell and called Thulani. His phone was on voicemail.