Sbu slapped the guy’s hand away. “Get off me!”

“Don’t you touch me,” said the guy. His friends pushed forward, showing that they had his back.

“Okay, we can see when we’re not wanted,” said Song. “Come on, Sbu.”

“No!” said the guy. “You can’t try to gatecrash this party and then leave! Not ’til we’re done with you!”

Sbu realised that they were surrounded. While the guy with bad teeth had been distracting him, the other braai guests had been quietly circling around them.

Still, Sbu stood his ground.

“I’m here to see my uncle,” he said.

“Ke ngoku? Why should I care about that? Who is your uncle?” asked the guy with bad teeth.

“I am.”

Mandla stood in the doorway. His smile was gone, and all the laugh-lines on his face now made him look more threatening.

“What are you doing to my nephew and his friends?”

“Niks,” said the guy, keeping his eyes on Sbu. “I was just having a little fun.”

“Go and have fun with someone else,” said Mandla.

The guy grinned his widely-spaced teeth at Sbu. “Enjoy the party,” he said, leaning in threateningly, his stinking breath hot on Sbu’s face. Then he skulked back to the braai.

Mandla came up to Sbu and his friends, and put his arm around Sbu’s shoulders.

“You came!” he said. “Thank you, it means a lot to me. And your friends. Mfundo, Songezwa, wonderful to see you again. And this must be Kate? It’s good to meet you. Please forgive Joseph; he has a sense of humour.”

“Sense of humour?” said Airtime. “He was ready to beat us up!”

Mandla glanced at Airtime.

“Can I speak to you privately, Sbu?” he asked. “Don’t worry about your friends, they’ll be fine out here now.”

He said this loudly enough for all the guests nearby to hear it. Joseph glanced at them and went back to his conversation.

Mandla led Sbu around the side of the building, away from the warmth of the fire. The sun had gone down, but it was a full moon, and it was light enough to see.

“I’m sorry you had to go through that,” said Mandla. “A lot of people in my business can be unpleasant.”

“Uncle,” said Sbu. “What is your business?”

“I told you,” said Mandla. “I sell things.”

“What things?” asked Sbu.

“Stolen things.”

Image: Nojich, CC-BY-NC-ND

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Now that Sbu knows the truth, what should he do? Should he break off all contact with his uncle? Would you be able to do that to a member of your family?