Across town, in Gugulethu, Song and Lebo crammed into the small room that Mpho shared with her little brother. There were two beds in the room, soccer posters on one wall and photographs of models and celebrities torn out of Heat magazine on the other. They pulled the curtain closed to get some privacy from her nosy little brother. 

Mpho seemed desperate. “Do you have it? Can I see it? Did you show anyone else? You didn’t show anyone else, did you?… Has the whole school seen it?” she wailed.

“I don’t think so,” Song said. “Just me and Lebo and, well, a couple of friends.” 

“How did you get it? Can I see?” 

Song gave her the phone. “I don’t know who sent it to me. I tried to send a message to find out, but I didn’t get a reply.” 

Mpho looked at the MMS and the number it came from. “I knew it! I knew it! I can’t believe he did this to me!” She burst into tears. 

“WHO did this to you?” Lebo said, putting her arm around her friend. 

“It’s Anathi. I met him on Saturday at a house party. We kind of hooked up. He begged me for the picture. He promised he wouldn’t show anyone.”

“And you believed him?” Lebo was shocked. “Mpho! You’re sharper than that!” 

“It was, like, a game. I wasn’t even naked-naked. It made me feel sexy, like a photo shoot in a magazine, you know? He said it was just for him. He was supposed to delete them. But then I ran into one of his friends on Sunday and he made these comments about my ‘modelling career’. And I just knew he’d seen the photos.”

“Is that why you haven’t come to school?”

“I couldn’t face it. Who knows how many other people have seen it? It’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to me!” Mpho wiped away the tears that were running down her face. “I can’t believe I was so stupid.” 

Song was worried. “If this picture gets onto Facebook or wherever, it could mess up your life. I mean, what if the school principal sees it? Or your boss ten years from now when you have a job?” 

“Or my parents! You don’t need to lecture me,” Mpho wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. “I know how bad this is! That picture is out there forever and ever.” 

“What do we do about it?” Lebo looked at Songezwa helplessly. 

“The only thing we can do,” Song said, “is try to limit the damage. We need to find Anathi and his friends and make him delete the pictures before anyone ELSE sees them.” 

Image: GOC53, CC-BY-NC-ND

WHAT DO YOU THINK: Have you ever taken a photo on your cellphone that could get you or your friends in trouble?