The full weight of Zikhona’s death comes back to Thando in the evening. Most of the people have left. He sits in the backyard and sobs like a baby.

Thando feels a hand on his shoulder, comforting him. He thinks it is Mam’Thembi and heaves even more.

He is shocked when he hears a deep voice say, “Let it all out. Everything will be alright, Thando.”

Thando turns, sobbing, to see Njabulo ‘The Fist’ Khumalo next to him. What The Fist is infamous for is township legend. Twenty years ago, his father was killed for his wallet on his way to work. The Fist was only eighteen when this happened. For the next two days, The Fist went on a killing spree, murdering all six of his father’s murderers.

“Your sister was very special,” says The Fist. “She was a child when I went to jail. One day, after I’d come out and had just opened the gym, I passed her on my morning run. She stopped me and said, ‘We are so proud of what you are doing for the neighbourhood boys’.”

The Fist looks away and wipes at a tear. His voice breaks, “In my whole life no-one had ever told me they were proud of me.”

Thando nods.

“Know that the doors to my gym will always be open for you. And whenever you need to talk, I’m here for you.”

On Sunday Thando wakes up in despair. He feels the walls of their tiny house closing in on him. Not wanting to infect Nandi with his mood, he decides to take up the offer from The Fist. He heads to the gym.

The Fist puts him through the paces – skipping rope, doing sit-ups. “How is the case going? Have the police been in contact?” he asks, standing behind a punching bag.

Thando pummels away at the bag. “They are quiet.”

“I thought as much. Alright, stop,” says The Fist. “Time to hydrate.”

By the tap in the corner of the gym Thando catches his breath and sips water. He looks at The Fist and says, “If you wanted to find Zikhona’s killers where would you start?”

The Fist says, “Where do you think I would start?”

“The last place Zikhona was seen.”

“And where is that?”

“Phumza’s Tavern”.

The Fist nods and smiles.

Thando jogs home. He finds Nandi standing in the kitchen, angry. “Where were you, Thando?”

“I was at the gym.”

“You should have told me where you were going. I was worried sick. Your phone was off. We just lost Zikhona; I thought I had also lost you,” she says, and tears stream down her face.

“Please calm down, Nandi,” Thando comforts his sister. “The Fist doesn’t allow cellphones in the gym so I switched it off. I’m sorry.”

She looks into Thando’s eyes with sincerity she has never shown before, “Thando …”

“Yes, Nandi?”

“Do you think the police will ever find Zikhona’s killers?”

“Let’s hope they do, because if they don’t, I will.”


Tell us: What is your view of revenge killing, or ‘an eye for an eye’?