Mandla suddenly knew exactly what he had to do. He grabbed Ayanda by the arm.

“You must come with me now!” he said urgently. “It’s Sandra! She needs your help!”

Something about the look in Mandla’s eye convinced Ayanda that she had to follow him.

As they ran Mandla pulled out his cellphone. It was the newest android phone on the market. Mandla looked at the phone for a moment, then he stopped and made the phone call. He spoke loudly and forcefully, pleading with the person on the other side to “Please believe me”. That was all Ayanda could hear.

Mandla took Ayanda’s hand and started running with her towards ‘Uncle’s’ house.

“Stop,” said Ayanda after a while. “You’re hurting me.” She stood and shook her hand free of Mandla’s tight clasp. “I’m not going another step with you until you tell me what’s happened to Sandra.”

“Okay,” said Mandla. But he was very agitated and kept trying to take Ayanda’s hand again. “Okay, only please don’t stop walking. I will talk as we walk. Please!”

Ayanda began to walk with him again. “I’m listening,” she said.

“You have to believe me, Ayanda. I never really intended to hurt Sandra in any way.”

“Hurt her? What? How?” Ayanda paused again, her eyes wide.

“No,” Mandla kept moving forward. “Not me exactly. Someone I know.”


Ayanda’s heart had started beating very fast and she felt breathless. She had started jogging now, to keep up with Mandla.

“You don’t know him,” said Mandla. “Please, you must run faster now.”

“What’s he doing to her?” asked Ayanda, out of breath.

“Probably nothing…yet,” said Mandla, running ahead.

Ayanda stopped for a moment. Her side was hurting. “I can’t keep up Mandla. I’m not athletic you know. I use my brain to work things out normally. Not my legs.”

Mandla was quite far ahead. Ayanda had to shout: “Why did you take Sandra to this man in the first place?”

Mandla called back, “For extra lessons.”

“What?” Ayanda could hardly hear him, but she had started running again.

“For extra Maths lessons.”

Ayanda heard Mandla clearly now. Maths lessons! Ayanda began running faster, feeling deep inside that maybe, if she hadn’t given up on the Maths lessons so easily, Sandra wouldn’t be in the trouble she was in now.

“I’m coming,” Ayanda called out. As she turned the corner she saw Mandla standing outside some huge steel gates. Ayanda stopped next to him. Her chest felt raw from running. “Tell me what to do,” she said.

Mandla was pressing the security phone buzzer at the entrance. Two huge dogs came running towards the gates, barking furiously.

“Just don’t ask me any more questions,” said Mandla. “Just do exactly as I tell you.”

Mandla turned to face Ayanda. Holding her firmly by her shoulders, he looked down into her eyes.

“Ow!” said Ayanda. The intensity of Mandla’s gaze was scaring her. His hands were digging into her flesh. “You’re frightening me Mandla!”

“Just do as I say,” said Mandla, “and everything will be okay.” Mandla turned. A voice was crackling through the speaker phone.

“Who is it?”

It was a man’s voice. Ayanda feared for her friend now.

“It’s Mandla, Uncle. Open up and let me in. I have another girl with me.”

Ayanda turned away as she heard the gate begin to move.

“Stay where you are Ayanda!” said Mandla fiercely. “I told you to do as I tell you! Please!”

Ayanda stood as still as a statue.

The gate was opening, and the two fierce dogs were already forcing their noses through the gap!


Tell us what you think: What is Mandla’s plan? Will Ayanda be brave enough to stay and not run away?