Mandi and Thembisa were sitting on a hill. They’d walked for twenty minutes to get there. They were staring down at a house below them. On the walk up, Mandi thought of Andiswa. Unlike Khanya, Andiswa had turned to liquor and drugs, and eventually died. Some said it’d been AIDS.
From the hill, the view of Sango’s place in the squatter camp was perfect. She could see everything around her attacker’s house from a bird’s-eye view. Various people entered and exited his house. They all fitted the same description – dirty, impoverished, and seeming to have all the time in the world.
“And that’s all Sango does for a living,” Thembisa explained.
“What?” asked Mandi. “Is he selling weed?”
“Yep, and mandrax.”
“I heard you smoke marijuana too, Thembisa.”
“That’s got nothing to do with you, Mandi.”
“Firstly, it’s Sisi Mandisa to you. I’m not your age. Watch your tone when you talk to me.”
Suddenly Sango stepped out of his house to empty a bucket of dirty water.
Anger filled Thembisa’s face as she focused on the village drug peddler. “There’s the bastard, in person,” Thembisa spat.
Mandi glanced at him and then turned back to Thembisa. “Listen, Thembisa, I can handle it from here. I need you to go away and forget all of this, please. I appreciate your assistance, but this is where I take over. Go please.” There was a hint of desperation in her voice.
“I can’t,” Thembisa replied, her voice full of pain.
“Listen, I can’t explain to you now what’s happening, but I really need you to let me sort–”
“I was dating him late last year,” Thembisa interrupted.
“You were dating Sango?” The news shocked Mandi.
“Well, at least I thought I was.”
“Nothing,” replied Thembisa, taking a deep breath. “Nothing. It was a bad decision on my part.” Thembisa’s mood had turned sad.
Mandi hesitated before she asked, “Was he abusive?”
“I’d rather not go into it for now. It’s something I’ve been trying to put behind me – if that’s even possible.”
The next question was even more difficult for Mandi to ask, but all cards needed to be on the table.
“Have you been tested, Thembisa?”
Thembisa chose not to respond.
Mandi reiterated, “Have you had an HIV test?”
“Are you gonna ask me a thousand questions all day or are we gonna concentrate on what we’re doing here?” Thembisa snapped, offended.
It was obvious that Thembisa had her own scores to settle.
“Oh, and by the way, I know everything about you, Andiswa and Khanya,” Thembisa blurted out. “I know the whole story. So let’s stop with the pretences, OK? We’re here to kill this dog, and that’s what we’re gonna do.”
Mandi froze, shell-shocked. She hadn’t anticipated it – especially from someone else’s lips.
Mandi pulled the gun out from her bag, and handed it to Thembisa.
“Where’d you get it?” Thembisa took the gun from Mandi. “It doesn’t matter. D’you know how it works?”
Thembisa looked around. It was drizzling and the rumble of thunder could be heard in the distance.
“All you do is push this knob forward to remove the safety catch, cock it back once to get the first bullet in the chamber, and then pull the trigger,” Thembisa explained, holding up the weapon and demonstrating without firing.
“So I have to cock it every time, before I pull the trigger?”
“No, you don’t,” Thembisa replied, lifting the Beretta to demonstrate further. “Once you’ve cocked it the first time, you can fire until the magazine is empty.”
Mandi stared at Thembisa. She had done her research, this young woman also bent on revenge.
“Until there aren’t any more bullets left,” Thembisa said slowly.
“Oh!” Mandi replied.
Thembisa handed back the gun. “If we’re gonna do this it’ll have to be tomorrow night, to avoid the weekend rush. Thursdays to Mondays are a no-go.”
“Fine. Tomorrow it is,” said Mandi.
Tell us what you think: Will the young women go through with their plan? Does Sango deserve to be killed by his victims?