Just then the sound of sirens filled the air.
“Sandra,” said Ayanda, “what’s going on?”
“I don’t know,” said Sandra, clinging to Ayanda, and shaking her head. “I only came here for extra Maths lessons!”
Two police cars came skidding to a halt on the gravel road. Police officers jumped out, waving their guns in the direction of the three young people. Ayanda turned to Mandla, saying: “You’d better tell everyone the truth now.”
A police officer walked forward. “Are you the boy who made the call?” he asked.
“Yes,” said Mandla. “I’ll tell you everything.”
Mandla indicated the garden. “The man I told you about is lying knocked down, over there.”
A few police officers moved into the garden, guns at the ready, leaving the three young people standing under the watchful eyes of a remaining police officer.
“Tell us what has been going on,” Sandra said softly.
“I’ve been bringing ‘Uncle’ kids for years,” said Mandla. “He paid me. He said he’d always look after me. Like a father.” Suddenly Mandla started to cry. “I always knew it was wrong. I knew everything was wrong. I’m sorry Sandra. I’m so sorry.”
Ayanda and Sandra moved away from Mandla. Ayanda pulled Sandra towards her, and hugged her closer.
“Mandla! How could you?” said Ayanda, shocked and horrified, as she realised just what Mandla had been doing all these years.
Mandla sniffed and wiped his wet face on his sleeve. He sighed deeply. “I’ll tell them everything. The police. There are others. Other men. I’ll give them all the names. All the children too. I know them all.”
Mandla sat down heavily on the ground, his head hanging between his knees. He looked up at Sandra. “I’m so sorry Sandra. I just couldn’t go through with it this time. Not with you. I couldn’t. You were the only true friend I ever had.”
Sandra almost went to Mandla then. But, somehow, she couldn’t.
To her Mandla looked different now, sitting there in the dust, with his expensive shoes and his expensive watch, and his expensive cellphone. Mandla looked like a stranger to Sandra now. He looked like someone she did not know.
Mandla was also still holding the collars of the two big dogs.
It suddenly struck Sandra, as she looked down at Mandla, that those two dogs were now, truly, the only friends Mandla had in the world. Two vicious dogs that he had befriended over the years.
A part of Sandra felt deeply sorry for him.
The police took Mandla away with them in one car. The ‘Uncle’ travelled, in handcuffs, in another police car.
Mandla told the police the names of all the children he had ever brought to the ‘Uncle’. There was a big court case.
Mandla went away to live somewhere else, shortly after that. Sandra never saw him again.
Ayanda decided that she had given up trying to teach Sandra far too soon. So, every afternoon, Ayanda started giving Sandra extra Maths lessons again.
In the school holidays Ayanda insisted on helping Sandra with even more extra lessons. “I can’t help it,” Ayanda always said. “I just love school. There’s just so much to learn!”
Well, Sandra couldn’t quite agree with that, but she tried hard and worked with Ayanda anyway. Besides, it was so great having a real friend, and someone to keep her company through the long, lonely holidays.
Sandra told Ayanda, “You are the strictest teacher I have ever known!” But she kept trying to learn. Neither of them gave up.
At the end of the year Sandra passed maths. And Ayanda got 100% for Maths – the best mark in the school.
The two of them, Ayanda and Sandra, went out then to celebrate.
Next year they would be in high school, together.
Tell us what you think: What is Mandla’s future? What will happen to the ‘Uncle’ and his friends?