“Have a wonderful day,” Masego’s mom said, as she and Katlego got out of the car outside school.
As she walked through the school gates she saw Malebo standing with Kele, the school paparazzo. Kele had only been at the school for a year. Like Odwa, she had transferred schools from Kimberley and already she was right at the top of the popularity chain. She was the editor of the school newspaper and was always on the lookout for news or gossip.
They were watching something on Kele’s phone.
“Hi, girls,” Masego greeted.
Malebo and Kele were concentrating so hard that they greeted her without looking up.
Finally, Malebo looked up. Kele looked at Masego with a strange, pitying expression and walked away.
“Masego, Odwa is a rapist,” Malebo said bluntly.
“He’s not, Male! He didn’t rape me! I wanted it as much as he did,’ Masego said angrily.
“Kele got this video from a friend of hers in Kimberley. It was a warning. Odwa raped her friend, Masedi. That’s why he transferred from Kimberley.”
“I don’t believe you! Kele is jealous of me; she wants Odwa for herself. But you? How can you?” Masego asked, tears rolling freely down her cheeks. “You know what Odwa and I did this weekend. I told you everything. Everything. How can you do this to me?”
“Friend, look.” Malebo showed her the video.
A very drunk-looking girl wearing only a crop top and panties was shouting, “Stop, stop!” and a boy whose face was hidden kept saying, in a slurred voice, “Come on, Masedi, it’s me, your boyfriend,” as he tried to pull down her panties and spread her legs. Giggles could be heard in the background. Then the video ended.
“Oh, my word, Male, do you think it’s him? It sounds like him, but I can’t be sure.”
“Friend, do you realise what this means?” Malebo asked.
“She was saying ‘no’ and he didn’t listen.” Masego looked at Malebo; she felt sick. “I slept with a rapist?” Masego said in a whisper and burst out crying.
As they walked to class, children were gathered in groups, watching the video. When they got to their register class, one of the girls said, “Masego, dear, rather you than me.” The boys burst into roaring laughter.
At break time, Masego and Malebo sat at their usual spot and ate their lunch in silence. Just before the bell rang, Masego saw Odwa walking towards them. The butterflies came back, but she fought against the feeling, feeling betrayed by her body.
“I can explain,” Odwa said, before the girls could say anything.
“I’m sure you can,” Malebo said, standing up. “Let’s go, friend.” She held her hand out for Masego, but Masego didn’t take it. She continued sitting.
“So it was definitely you. How could you, Odwa? Why?” Masego said, looking Odwa straight in the eyes.
“I want to erase that part of my life, Masego. I hate myself for doing it. I hate myself so much,” Odwa pleaded, his voice breaking. “But please believe me, I didn’t rape her. I didn’t go that far.”
Masego stood up, her eyes burning with anger, disgust and betrayal, and then said to Malebo, “Let’s go, my friend.”
* * *
Tell us: If Odwa claims he didn’t rape the girl, what might have been happening in the video?