Detective Shange returned my voice messages around four on Thursday morning.
“I’ve been out since my shift began. I don’t think I will be at the station at all today. Can you meet me in the city? Meet me at the Umbilo Car Licensing Department between eight and ten. I drive a red Toyota Sprinter. Call me when you get there,” he said.
I was at the licensing department by half past seven. I called him when his car entered the gates. He motioned me to get in.
“Do you also work nightshift?” inquired Detective Shange.
“No. Why do you ask?”
“You look tired, like you have not slept. Which one is your brother?”
“The one who escaped the beating.”
“Funny enough, Dumisani’s reputation preceded him. I knew about a mad, young, handsome killer kid through my friends in the Umlazi Police Station. But when we got to the scene I only saw the harmless child in him begging for his life. He told us everything, you know. Before he passed out, he sang about your brother. But there are things that can be done. We can work the case to point and pin everything on Dumisani. Your brother must just lay low. It would be even better if he actually moved away. I’ll search everywhere and not find him, even when he is there. I’ll tell the judge he is nowhere to be found… if you get my drift.”
“He really is lost. We have not heard from him in six days. That’s why we called you. We thought you could shed some light on the case, to tell us what really happened,” I said.
“The owner of the house walked into a burglary in progress. He pulled a gun and walked the two culprits out into the street. The whole neighbourhood quickly converged and doled out mob justice on the boys. Dumisani bore the brunt of it because your brother managed to escape. For sure he is in hiding. But, you would not tell me even if you knew where he is. Would you?”
“Serious, we really don’t know where he is.”
Shange broke into a tired smile. “Well, I want to let you know there is an angle we can work in this case. With a bit of cash of course, a little something for going to the trouble of not finding him. Call me when you have what can make this go away.”
I ate an orange at a kiosk by the taxi stop, and shook my head over the offer from Detective Shange – selling Simphiwe’s freedom for two thousand rands. Right there and then I came to the conclusion that when Simphiwe returned I would definitely pay the bribe. I would beg and borrow if I had to, for him to stay away from jail.
“Have Dumisani and Simphiwe gone crazy? Those two chose the darkness when living in the light is so lovely,” he said.
We reminisced about how bright our ambitions were when we were their age. He told me there was a baby on the way, work was perfect, and gave me brotherly encouragement about my studies.
“I hear Dumisani was seriously hurt. How is he?”
“Dumisani regained consciousness this morning. He doesn’t know what happened or where he is. How is your brother?”
“Simphiwe’s story is worse, my friend. We have not heard from him in six days. Ma is going insane with worry.”
“Now that’s what drives me crazy. They worry our parents. They should be enjoying their lives, reaping the rewards of decades of hard work. Instead they wake to calls from police stations and hospitals in the middle of the night. The visiting hours at Westville Hospital are from twelve to two. Dumisani is in Ward Four C. Maybe he’ll be able to tell you what happened.”
Tell us what you think: What is your opinion of Detective Shange’s offer?