“Where has all this money come from?” Thandi said out loud. She sat down on the bed and began counting the money. “Seven hundred and fifty three rand,” she murmured. “Babalwa, what are you doing?”

Thandi was suddenly afraid for her sister. She knew she had to be doing something illegal to have all this money. Then a hot, fierce anger took hold of Thandi. She jumped up and began throwing Babalwa’s clothes out of her cupboard. She found another bundle of notes hidden in her sister’s blue jeans. Then she found a large bottle full of coins on the shelf above the cupboard. Thandi searched everywhere until she was sure she had found all the money. There was nearly two thousand rand!

Thandi had to take deep breaths to try and calm herself down. Thankfully Gogo was still fast asleep. After she had composed herself, Thandi put everything back where she had found it. She knew there was no point in confronting her sister about the money. Babalwa would only yell and scream. She’d be sure to lie about where she had got the money. Besides, Thandi didn’t want Gogo to find out about it. She knew that Gogo’s fragile state of mind right now would not be able to handle it. She had to protect Gogo.

But at the same time, Thandi knew she had to find out where her sister was getting the money from. Babalwa didn’t work. She was too lazy to help in the house. She refused to cook or even wash the dishes.

Thandi checked on Gogo before she left the house − still asleep. Thandi wrote a note and propped it up next to her mother’s picture. She needed to go to the shop to buy some meat, vegetables, milk and bread, and took the money from the tin that Gogo kept on the kitchen shelf.

The street was busy. It was the end of the month and lots of people were out shopping.

“Hi Mpho,” Thandi called to a boy who went to their school. He was sitting on the street corner, from where you could see the market. Mpho was a hard-working boy. On the weekends he polished people’s shoes to earn some money.

Thandi bought the meat and vegetables. She had just left the market when she saw Mpho again. He was packing up his shoe-shine box. He seemed happy, and he had a huge grin on his face. Suddenly two older boys stopped in front of him.

“What’s so funny?” one of the youths asked.

“Yes, share the joke with us, boy,” said another youth in an ugly voice.

Then the two pushed Mpho down on the pavement.

“Give us all your money − now!” they demanded.

Thandi stood rooted to the ground. She could hardly believe what she was seeing in front of her own eyes. She hated bullies. They were cowards, who only liked to prey on weaker people.

“No,” Thandi heard Mpho say firmly.

One of the bullies immediately punched Mpho in the stomach.

“Give us all your money − now!” he said again, louder this time. “If you don’t, you’ll be sorry.”

“We’ll kill you,” the other youth threatened.

“No,” Mpho whimpered.

Thandi ran across the road. She couldn’t just stand there. She had to do something.


Tell us what you think: What should Thandi do?