Thando has a sinking feeling as he follows Captain Qinela. He knows – in fact the whole township knows – that Captain Qinela is corrupt and in the pay of local gangsters, so turns a blind eye to crime.

“Your sister was strangled. And the rape kit has proven she was raped. When last did you see her?”

Thando is dumbfounded. He sits there just looking at Captain Qinela. What he is hearing and feeling seems surreal. He keeps pinching his arm, hoping to wake up from this nightmare.

Captain Qinela asks him again, “Thando, when last did you see your sister?”

“Where is her bag and cellphone? Have you dusted her bag for fingerprints? What are you doing to find her killer?” Thando snaps at Captain Qinela. He surprises even himself with his boldness. It must be the adrenaline from shock, racing through his blood.

“Yes, yes, we did everything but the results will take time. I have all her belongings here.” Captain Qinela hands Thando a black refuse bag.

“What did you find?”

Captain Qinela leans forward on the desk. “This is not a crime TV show in America, boy. These procedures take time. Just leave them to us. We will keep you posted.”

Thando shakes his head in disapproval. “But nothing ever gets solved in this police station. You know it, I know it, everyone in this township knows it!”

“We do our best with what we have.”

“This is bullshit!” Thando grabs the refuse bag and leaves.

He arrives home to find Mam’Thembi leading women in sad songs. The family Zikhona worked for, the Hamiltons, arrive in the evening. The whole family – father, mother, teenage son, and grandmother – shed tears with Thando and Nandi.

The grandmother looks at Zikhona’s matric dance photo on the wall and weeps.

Henry Hamilton, the father, and a giant of a man, casts his eyes on the floor. His voice quivers as he says, “Zikhona was so driven. So focused. So humble.”

“Wicked sense of humour in that child. Who could have done this?” wails Georgia, the Hamilton matriarch.

“Did you notice anything out of the ordinary with Zikhona recently?” says Thando.

“When I think about it,” juts in the Hamilton boy, Chris, “she said she was going to meet someone about a modelling gig. I told her she would make a beautiful model. She has the perfect figure for it. Had a perfect figure, I mean.”

After everyone leaves and Nandi is asleep, Thando opens the refuse bag. Most of Zikhona’s belongings are there. There is even cash in her wallet. The only thing missing is her cellphone and her diary.

“Please, Zikhona, give me a clue,” Thando whispers, as he stares at the photo in Zikhona’s ID book. “Tell me who did this to you, my sister.”


Tell us: What could be the motive for this murder, if money has not been stolen?