Sbu struggled. The two guys holding his arms held tight. Sbu braced himself.

“Hey!” someone shouted from across the street. “I’m watching you!”

A woman strode towards them, waving a walking stick. She was old and thin, and wore glasses, but she walked purposefully.

“What do you think you’re doing? Let go of him! At once!”

The two guys holding Sbu looked uncertain. They loosened their grip, and Sbu pulled free.

‘But he’s one of them!” said the kid in the black shirt.

“And you think that beating him up here will solve your problems? Go! Leave him to me! Hamba!”

She waved her stick at them again. Reluctantly, the boys walked off.

“Watch out, skollie. She won’t be around next time,” the leader sneered, and walked past, butting his shoulder into Sbu’s.

“Thank you, Mama,” said Sbu after they had gone.

“Don’t you ‘Thank you, Mama’ me!” said the old woman. “You watch out, my boy. You’re heading into trouble.”

From behind Sbu came the sound of running feet. Mandla and Song came around the corner. Song held a cricket bat, and Mandla brandished a broken chair-leg like a club. Mandla clearly wasn’t used to running, and was out of breath.

The old woman glared at Mandla, and walked away using her walking stick.

“Who was that?” asked Song. “What happened?”

“I don’t know,” said Sbu. “I was ambushed by a bunch of guys. That woman scared them off.”

Mandla nodded. “Gangsters,” he said. “I’ve been having trouble from them since I got back here.”

“What kind of trouble?” asked Song.

“They’ve been threatening me. They think they run this place. But I’m not going to be intimidated.” He whacked the chair-leg into his hand meaningfully. “I’m glad you didn’t get hurt, Sbu. Running after him like that could have been dangerous.”

“Well, I don’t like being intimidated, either,” said Sbu.

Mandla laughed. “That’s great. Hey, I’ll tell you what. I’m having a braai tonight. It’s just some old friends and some local businessmen. I want to get them together and ask them what we can do about these gangsters. But I want it to be about more than just business. Why don’t you come? It would be great to have my nephew and his friends!”

Sbu was amazed. A minute ago he was fearing for his life, and now he was looking forward to a party. His uncle was a charming man. It was hard not to relax around him.

“That sounds tight!” said Sbu.

Image: Sam Wilson, CC-BY

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Are gangsters a problem in your neighbourhood? Is there anything you can do about it?