Sango’s parents’ dining room could pass for a shrine to Christianity. ‘I belong to Jesus’ said a sticker on their front door. The face of the clock on their wall was a solemn, gazing Jesus Christ. The usual players were also there: a painting of a blue-eyed Virgin Mary and a large painting of Joseph and Mary staring at baby Jesus. Nordic of course – all their halos bright and gold like the colour of the hair on their heads. JC, again, this time on a cross carved out of wood. In the mix, away from this centre piece, there was a picture of Sango and Dumisani with their parents, dignified folk in their Sunday best. Peace brimming in everyone’s eyes, except Dumisani’s. There was a tint of confused evil in his stare.

Sango’s parents welcomed me warmly, with a genuine goodness of manner that made it hard to understand how they had given birth to a killer. As his father asked my business deep, silent pain surfaced and settled in his eyes.

“How can we help you, my boy?”

“My name is Khulekani and I’m a schoolmate of Sango’s. I’m looking for my brother, Simphiwe. He was last seen with Dumisani. I wondered if he could tell me where Simphiwe is?”

“We last saw Dumisani on Friday when we left for the conference. These kids, they are not back until today and Dumisani is still supposed to be signing. If his Parole Officer gets here to find him absent, there’ll be trouble. I’ve never seen a person care less than my boy.”

“We have the same problem at home.”

“Where have you heard of a sixteen-year-old gone for the whole weekend? Who knows what evils they are doing? They don’t go to church. They don’t believe in the saviour. A life without the fear of God is not a good life.” His eyes shifted to my backpack and he asked, “Are you coming from school?”

“Yes, I’m at Mangosuthu University of Technology.”

“What course are you studying there?”


“That’s the way, my boy. There are no short cuts to a better life. You must have education and faith. Where do you praise?”


“That’s very good. Keep it like that. You can never go wrong with education in your mind and Jesus in your heart. Leave your number. I’ll get him to call you when he gets back.”

“I’d greatly appreciate that.”

“Mama, please get my diary.”

Sango’s father had the latest cellphone, but he still believed in writing numbers in his diary. I saved his number on my phone while he heaved to get up and buzz me out into a wintry, silvery-orange setting sun.


Tell us what you think: What is your opinion of the statement by Dumisani’s father: “There are no shortcuts to a better life. You must have education and Faith”?