“A book? Good for you Mandz,” Khanya told Mandisa. They were sitting in the visitor’s room in the high security facility for women outside Port Elizabeth.
Inmates’ visitors crammed the room up, bonding with their loved ones. Even though Khanya had been there several times, to visit Mandisa, she hadn’t got used to the dark, eerie feel of the place – hard steel and cement everywhere. It was just … wrong, she felt. She hated seeing Mandisa in an orange overall, with the numbers 714077 across her chest.
“Mandi doesn’t belong there,” she’d often tell Sarah Sutherland, querying if their lawyer had any more strings to pull, to get her an early release.
The Sutherlands had done all they could for Mandisa, under the circumstances. It’d been a hard, lengthy trial, resulting in a four year prison sentence for Mandi. It would be four years flat, without parole or sentence leniency for good behaviour.
“It’s a good deal,” Roger van der Westuizen, the Sutherland family lawyer, had said as his parting words to Mandisa. “You ought to be grateful. You trespassed, threatened, shot and killed an unarmed kid. The judge was lenient.”
Mandi was grateful. She appreciated all the love and support she’d got from her employer and her mates. She was especially thankful to Themba, her boyfriend. He’d made it a point to come every Saturday, except when he couldn’t, because of work. She’d explained everything to him, and he’d understood. She’d made sure to tell him absolutely everything, including her wishes to kill the pastor. She laid all her cards on the table, and he accepted her. He understood.
Mandi loved him so much more in prison than she ever did when she was free.
She appreciated all the love and support she’d got from her employer and her friends. It was humbling. Even young Jamie and Sindi had visited a few weeks back – all teary eyed about their friend’s incarceration.
Mandi had chosen to tell them everything. There was no point in lying.
Yet even with all the love being bestowed on her, what Mandi was most grateful for was that she’d finally found some peace of mind.
She’d faced her demons, head on – she’d confronted the nightmares of her past. She had done it by writing a book for those three girls caught in the forest that night, and for other girl victims out there. To help them. To encourage them to tell what happaned to them, and to get counselling.
“Time up, visitors out please!” a security guard yelled, prompting Khanya and Pam to leave.
But first Mandi handed Khanya a copy of her book, filled with her heartfelt words.
“It’s for the girls like us, out there, Khanya. It’s called ‘Forgive’.”
They hugged again, tighter this time, lovingly.
They weren’t just friends anymore – a sisterhood had formed.
Tell us: What sentence do you think Pastor Lungelo deserves for this rape crime revealed from his past? Should he get less jail time for having turned his life around?