“Gentlemen, you can give yourselves a big round of applause for the sheer guts and tenacity you have shown throughout the whole investigation,” said Lieutenant Jobela proudly at the Edo-Mill police station.
“Before I hand over to Sergeant Daliwe, my last words of encouragement to you is that never limit your potential and keep up the good work. Ah! Over to you, Sergeant.”
“Thank you, Lieutenant, thank you,” replied Sergeant Daliwe.
“What I have to say to you is that you have really, really made the Edo-Mill police force a respectable department again. You have really outdone yourselves and may this continue in the future. A job well done, gentlemen.”
Madlebe, Raffael, Khandiza, Banjo and Socawe were all smiles as they were being addressed by Lieutenant Jobela and Sergeant Daliwe.
“Ah! But, Sergeant,” replied Madlebe out of the blue, “what’s a celebration without any bubbly, ha?”
“Ja, Ja,” agreed Banjo and Socawe. “Really, what is a celebration without any bubbly?”
Sergeant Daliwe and Lieutenant Jobela looked at each other and shook their heads with a flicker of a smile upon both their faces.
“Eish, but you guys just never learn,” replied Lieutenant Jobela with a sigh.
“For heaven’s sake, Madlebe, we’re still at work. Business before pleasure – there’s no way in the world we can mix those two … Right, Sergeant?”
“One hundred per cent right, Lieutenant,” Sergeant Daliwe replied.
“No two ways about it. You just have to live on water whilst you’re at work. We don’t want to bring our police station down and turn it into a crazy rascal club, now do we? Worst of all, Madlebe, how can residents depend on our help if we are all drunk? We’ll end up beating up the people we are supposed to help and that won’t be professional. I’m afraid, Madlebe – and that includes all of you, gentlemen – bubbly is out of the question. You must remember, we are a police department and not a shebeen.”
Immediately the smiles upon the police officers faces turned into frowns of boredom.
“All right then, that will be all. Let’s get back to work, gentlemen,” said Lieutenant Jobela in a serious tone.
Back at home Uncle Edward told me, as we sat and chatted on the stoep, “Well, Cliff, I just hope that we will never wake up to another bad dream like what we have experienced. I certainly pray that we really have heard the last of this Grizzly Bear Gang. No way in the world do any of us living in Edo-Mill want to head back to the same bloody horror.”
“No doubt about it, Uncle,” I replied in agreement. “If they are being taken away for good, straight to Pollsmoor, then surely we have nothing to worry about at all. At least we’ll be safe in the township without always looking behind us.”
“Hey, Cliff” said Uncle, “I don’t mean to be negative or anything, my son, but to be safe in Edo-Mill township forever is a pipe dream – it is a total fantasy. Like I always say, this township is just like any township. Crime is unavoidable. We will always be looking behind us.”
“Eish, I hear you, Uncle,” I replied, shaking my head.
“All of them were guilty as charged,” said Uncle. “I just don’t understand why the hell the magistrate took almost a month to try the case? The day they got caught, he should have gone straight down to court to give them their sentences.”
“But Uncle,” I tried to explain, “you know how these things go. No matter what trial, advocates of the law must always abide by the Constitution and its lawful implementations regarding a trial. Not that I’m saying it was right for the trial to take so long, but this trial wasn’t just any trial.”
Uncle Edward shook his head. “Everybody in Edo-Mill knows quite well that over the past weeks, so many people living here have died, senseless deaths.”
After sitting in silence for a while, Uncle requested that I hurry down to the Star Café to buy food for supper that evening.
As I walked the sky turned golden, then orange, then red as the sun set. It was warm. The type of weather where one walks the streets wearing shorts and a T-shirt. On the road taxis were speeding up and down the streets, playing loud music and hooting.
I smiled to myself. In the township, to get lonely was unheard of – there was always something entertaining right before your eyes, which was one of the beauties that made many people, including myself, fall in love with Edo-Mill.
At the Star Café I bought what I needed.
Then, as I left, the unthinkable happened.
Out of the blue, three loud gunshots sounded. They came from right outside. Then there was a deathly silence.
All I could see at first was a red private vehicle driving into the distance. I heard a groaning sound next to me.
There was a man lying flat on his back on the tar, in a pool of blood. Next to him another young man was crying:
“Help! Somebody, help!” When he saw me he said, “Call Patrick inside – quickly … quickly! Tell him to get his car out. Somebody’s been shot. We have to take this guy to hospital urgently … Quickly! Call him quickly!”
I rushed back inside, my heart pounding, to call for help. I told Patrick what had just happened and, without wasting any time, he headed outside and hurried to get his car.
I raced back to the scene on the main road where the man had been shot. The sight of the man was just too traumatic. He was still breathing, but I couldn’t recognise him, for the blood. Patrick arrived, parking his maroon Jetta near the three of us as we grabbed hold of the man, placing him inside the vehicle. We got in and sped off to the hospital.
“Hey, mfethu … do you know this man?” Patrick asked the young man who had called for help.
Puzzled for a second by the question, the young man shook his head pitifully.
“It’s Bra Slash, your brother,” he said softly.