Mandi sat in a local tavern. She couldn’t go home. Something had snapped in her after she had spoken to Khanya. There was no going back until she found them all. That’s why she had come here. This is where she would find the second rapist. And she had. Her eyes focused on him across the room, and they never left him. He was dancing, surrounded by young girls who were at least half his age.
Nothing’s changed, she thought. How can these girls be out drinking on a school night?
Now she had found two of them. Pastor Lungelo and this man, whose face was imprinted on her mind from that evening in the forest. It had been easy – he hadn’t moved from the township. He’d become the popular guy, selling crystal meth and weed for a living.
Mandi stared at him, thinking: He’s free, happy and boastful, like nothing happened. The bastard.
An SMS alert broke Mandi out of her thoughts. It was from Sarah.
Where are you Mandi?
We are so worried.
What’s going on?
This isn’t you, not to make contact.
Mandi read and re-read the text message, until a voice behind her made her look up.
“What do you want here, Mandisa Sebe?” A young woman was looking down at her.
“None of your business,” Mandi replied and waved her away.
Thembisa lived a few houses from Mandi. She was always at the tavern. Her beauty was hidden behind her permanent ‘don’t mess with me’ attitude.
“What card do you have up your sleeve, girlfriend?” Thembisa joked, blowing cigarette smoke out through her nostrils. “Why are you hanging out here?”
“Listen, just disappear Thembisa, please.”
Thembisa followed Mandi’s gaze to the man, who was still grabbing, fondling and flirting with the youngsters. It looked like they were all his. She turned back to Mandi and was about to ask something, but quickly changed her mind. She was slowly putting two and two together, but wasn’t sure if she was getting five for an answer.
“Thembisa, I’m asking you nicely, my dear. Leave me alone.”
“Come now, it’s my right to stand wherever I please, isn’t it? It’s a free and democratic country Sis’ Mandz, and at this particular moment I feel like standing next to you. You’re mos my role model, you know this.”
Thembisa had her own special way of getting under Mandi’s skin. It’d always been the case.
After a brief moment of silence, Thembisa announced: “His name is Sango. He lives at Ezinyoka village with his cousin. Meet me tomorrow. I’ve got something to show you.”
Thembisa walked off. Mandi wondered what Thembisa knew. There’d been rumours that Thembisa had become friends with Andiswa, the third girl on that night in the forest. The one who had later died.
Could Andiswa have told, Mandi wondered, turning her gaze back to her attacker. She couldn’t believe how happy and free he was.
There was one thought in her mind as she watched him with the young girls: Where do I find a gun?
Tell us: What does Thembisa want to show Mandi?