“Now what the hell do you call this, ha?” fumed Lieutenant Jobela at Madlebe and Khandiza. “We’re busy on a case here and all you fools can think about is eating popcorn and reading books.”

“But, Lieutenant, it’s a tea break,” pleaded Khandiza.

“Tea break, my ass!” Lieutenant Jobela shouted. “Now you two listen here. You don’t get paid in this department for playing Snakes and Ladders. Either you get up off your freaking behinds and get a bloody move on, or pack your bags and leave. Are we clear?”

“Yeh, yeh. Yes, Lieutenant. Sorry, Lieutenant,” said Madlebe and Khandiza as they hurriedly got up.

Madlebe and Khandiza had been lazing about all morning at the reception office of the Edo-Mill police station down in Zone 1. And when Lieutenant Jobela arrived unexpectedly, Madlebe had been crunching up a dish full of popcorn, tossing each kernel of popcorn with delight in the air and opening his mouth wide as it came down spinning, to be crushed by his teeth.

“Get some popcorn or something – at least it will keep you busy and lower your high stress levels,” Khandiza had suggested when Madlebe had complained of babalaas and boredom.

Khandiza was as high as a kite. Although he seemed more relaxed than Madlebe, Khandiza kept laughing to himself with his legs crossed, while balancing on the reception table. The whole morning session he had been engrossed in a book he was reading, titled Lyrical Poetry In Solitary Times. Indeed Khandiza was in his own solitary space before the lieutenant arrived, as he kept nodding seriously to himself, in agreement with the contents of the book he was reading.

“Is the sergeant in?” Lieutenant Jobela asked.

“Yes, Lieutenant. Yes, he’s in,” replied Khandiza calmly.

“You two just get busy – you know what to do. Let’s work, work, work, gentlemen –work!”

Lieutenant Jobela walked straight to Daliwe’s office and knocked.

“Yes? Enter.”

“How those two became police officers, really I have no clue!” said Lieutenant Jobela annoyed.

Haaibo! What now, Lieutenant? What on earth are you talking about?” Sergeant Daliwe said.

“I’m talking about those two,” replied the lieutenant. “Khandiza and Madlebe.”

“Oh, I see,” said Sergeant Daliwe smiling.

Eish, Lieutenant, you know how those two are. They are like burst tyres. You always patch them up only to find another open hole.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” Lieutenant Jobela replied and laughed.

“So what’s the latest, Sergeant?” asked the lieutenant, changing the subject. “What do you have on your plate regarding the Grizzly Bear Gang?”

“Good news,” Sergeant Daliwe replied. “Please take a seat, Lieutenant.”

Lieutenant Jobela grabbed hold of a chair, eager to hear the latest developments in the case.

“Well, it seems like we may have found ourselves a lead.”

Lieutenant Jobela felt immense relief as Daliwe continued.

“I managed to ask some folks questions down in Zone 5 and luckily I received useful information from a Rastafarian by the name of Macintosh. Macintosh also resides in Zone 5 and he’s the owner of a small fruit-and-vegetable store near the site called The Standings. Macintosh told me he had seen four to six armed men coming in and out from a two-room shack just across the street, not far from his store.”

“Ah! Well I’ll be damned. Great work, Sergeant,” replied the lieutenant enthusiastically.

“We can’t waste any more time. It’s best that we head off down there right now.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” Sergeant Daliwe replied.

“We should have our back-up tight,” said Lieutenant Jobela. “We cannot miss this chance – everyone should be on board. Those bastards have been running around free for a long time now. Notify Madlebe, Banjo and Khandiza, Sergeant. I’ll get in touch with Raffael and Socawe. They phoned me earlier and told me that they were still busy trying to find a lead down in Zone 2.”

“Well, we’ve got our lead now, Lieutenant,” Sergeant Daliwe replied.

“Okay then,” said the lieutenant cheerfully as he stood up from his chair, “let’s get this ball rolling. Once again, good work, Sergeant. I know I can always put my trust in you.”

After Lieutenant Jobela shook hands with Sergeant Daliwe, the lieutenant rushed out of the office to get in touch with his colleagues Raffael and Socawe.

It was now official: Lieutenant Jobela was assembling his force down at the Edo-Mill police station. They had found the location of the Grizzly Bear Gang and they were heading after them.

Down in Zone 5, in a two-room shack at The Standings, members of the Grizzly Bear Gang were lying low for a while after their slaughtering in Manzini.

None of the members had a clue that the Edo-Mill police had already tracked them down and were heading straight their way. Inside the shack, Bra Biza and his fellow gang members were shocked to have found out that Zakheyi, a fellow gang member of theirs down in Zone 2, had narrowly escaped being captured. Where he was now, nobody knew.

“You know, Jaman,” said Bra Biza, devastated, “I warned Zakes about the people on his street and I had told him time and time again that he should shift down here with us, and not just operate alone in those dungeon alleys over there. You know mos how the people of Zone 2 can be. You sing the tune to them and they’ll be after your ass with a squadron.”

And with that, the mood changed dramatically, from gloomy to entertaining as they reminisced and boasted about their killing spree in Manzini. Each member had something gruelling to reflect upon and Bhunga was the first to share his story.

Hayi, you remember the first guy, Vinnie?” said Bhunga thoughtfully. “Ja! That one was a piece of cake, I must say. I blew his lights out before he could even remember his age. You should have seen it, Bra Biza, it was just like a holiday at the coast – pity it was not daylight,” laughed Bhunga as the other members giggled in amusement.

Eish, Bhunga was a real menace, that I’ll tell you,” replied Vinnie shaking his head.

“Damn, things were also hotting up from our side,” said Max.“We had a blast, didn’t we, Dladla?”

“A blast,” Dladla echoed. “When I pointed my AK at that bastard, he was like a clucking chicken already dead in my hands. That scumbag, Max, which you were holding, he was more shivery, I must admit. When he couldn’t answer your question, I just knew that he had to meet up with his final resting place. It was like one–two–three–Bang! Bang! And he was gone.”

Everybody began to laugh at Dladla and Max’s story.

“And how did things go on your side, Bra Biza?” asked Vinnie curiously.

“Well, same old, same old,” Bra Biza replied in amusement. “You can just say that Jaman and I make an incredible combination, I tell you.”

“Of course, of course,” said Jaman with a giggle as he thought of the dead bodies they had left piled up on the metal floor of the bridge.

After the gang members had shared their stories for the fifth time, Bra Biza cautioned them to lie low and not move about in the township for a while.

“Soon, we will have this township under our control. Even the cops will be eating out of our hands. Too afraid not to.”

Little did they know what was coming their way.