Anathi wasn’t hard to find. He was right where Mpho said he would be, hanging out at the local shopping centre, sitting on the steps outside with two of his friends. They were making loud comments about girls walking past.
Mpho was nervous about confronting him, but Song reassured her. “Don’t worry, we’ll handle it.”
Mpho pointed out Anathi. He was the one in the middle, sprawled back on the steps, wearing a fedora hat cocked at an angle. He had the most attitude, to go with the wispy moustache on his top lip. His two friends were a scrawny mean-looking boy in a beanie and a big guy who was probably more fat than muscle, but still large and intimidating.
“Check out the junk on that cheri!” Anathi whistled as a girl walked past carrying shopping bags. The girl gave them an angry look over her shoulder.
“Tjo tjo tjo!” beanie boy whooped in delight. “Woes n? I bet she’s an animal in bed!”
Then they spotted Song and Lebo and Mpho. Anathi grinned.
“Heeeeey, baby,” Anathi said, holding out his arms to Mpho. “Unjani babeza? I’ve missed you. Come sit on my lap. Give me some sugar.”
Mpho looked like she was going to burst into tears again.
“Leave her alone,” Lebo snapped.
“Hey, you can join in, sweetie. There’s plenty of me to go around.”
“Kaw’yeke!” Song stepped out in front, her hands on her hips, glaring at the boys. She was nervous as hell, but she wasn’t going to let them see that.
The boys looked Song up and down. “And who are you supposed to be, ntombazan’?” Anathi sneered. “Her replacement? You want to get with me, you’re gonna have to up your game, sister. Put on a nice dress. Lose the glasses. Wear some make-up.”
“Forget about me. Let’s talk about what you’re going to do.”
“And what’s that, baby?”
“You’re going to delete the photos of Mpho that you’ve been sending round. Before I tell the school and the cops.”
“And your mom!” Lebo chipped in.
Anathi looked surprised and then angry. His mouth gaped open. His friends exchanged worried looks. And then Anathi snapped his jaw shut and pulled his hat down over his eyes.
“Whatever, I don’t even know what you’re talking about. Come on, guys, forget these crazy chicks and let’s bounce.”
The boys got up to go. Song yelled after them, “I have your phone number, Anathi. If you don’t delete them, I can prove it was you!”
Anathi didn’t look back, just waved his hand at her dismissively.
“Do you think he’ll do it?” Lebo asked.
Song nodded. “Yeah. I think he’s not used to people standing up to him.”
“Yeah, but you made him look bad in front of his crew,” Lebo warned.
“All the more reason not to cause any more nonsense,” Song shrugged.
Mpho rubbed her arms, looking miserable. “I just hope this is the end of it.”
Image: Sam Wilson, CC-BY
WHAT DO YOU THINK: What do you think about the way Song handled the situation? Does standing up to bullies work?