After Mrs Qambu left, I decided to cook. She told me to do what I would normally do on Fridays, to not raise any suspicions.
I heard her talk to Mr Zwane outside and looked out the window.
“Tshawe!” she addressed Mr Zwane by his clan name, “we have a problem. How well do you know your neighbours?”
“Principal, I know everyone and everything in this small community of ours,” Mr Zwane replied.
“How well do you know Simthandile’s parents?” she asked. “What happened to her mother? Do you know?”
“Yes, I do,” he said., “I know both of them well. She was a very respected woman. She knew how to carry herself around, I had grown to admire her. She would make me coffee every morning when I was watering my plants, we would talk about everything. I believe a person like her wasn’t meant for this place; she wasn’t meant for him.”
“What do you mean, she wasn’t meant for him?” I heard Mrs Qambu ask.
“What I mean, principal, is that she was not happy here.” Mr Zwane replied, looking at me standing at the window. I looked back; I needed more.
“My concern, Sir, is that Simthandile’s schoolwork is suffering,” she told him. “I believe that her mother left her with her father. How do you feel about Simi living alone with her father?”
“It broke my heart to see Simi’s mother leave, it was very early in the morning when she left. I remember that day, it was raining heavily, the sky was darker than I had ever seen before. She ran away from that man,” Mr Zwane said.
“Why would she leave?” Mrs Qambu asked.
“My neighbour is a monster,” he answered, making fists with his hands.
“Can you do me one favour, Tshawe?” Mrs Qambu asked.
“Anything, mfundisi (teacher).”
“Please, here’s my number. Call me as soon as possible when you see uBhele (Simi’s father clan name) this afternoon,” Mrs Qambu said.
“I will, I’m sure he’s very drunk wherever he is now,” Mr Zwane replied.
“Please, do. Thank you,” the principal said her goodbyes and walked away.
I was satisfied with the decision I had made; Mrs Qambu was discreet.
Principal Qambu went to the police station to enquire about opening a rape case. She met with Mr Jackson, who was the chief commander of the Khayelitsha police station.
“To what do I owe the pleasure of your visit, Principal?” Mr Jackson asked, pointing at an empty chair in his office.
“Thank you for agreeing to meet with me, Chief Jackie,” Mrs Qambu replied, “I have a question.”
“Straight to the point, I like that,” Mr Jackson mocked. “What is the question about?”
“I don’t want to waste your time, chief,” Mrs Qambu said, “I have a student in my school, she has been physically assaulted by her father, now I want to know what we can possibly do to put an end to this madness.”
Mr Jackson’s face turned red. “By physically, you mean sexually assaulted?” he asked.
“Yes, she’s being raped by her father,” she told him.
“I will need you to take me to that animal, right now,” Mr Jackson replied furiously.
“No, wait, Jackie. I understand your frustration, but what evidence do we have to make sure he rots in jail? We don’t have any,” Mrs Qambu said.
“You’re right, Principal. He needs to rot in prison,” he said, “I will need to talk to the girl. Do I know her?”
“It’s Themba’s child, Simthandile,” she told him.
“Themba! That’s not possible, Themba is one of the most respected officers at this station and a good friend of mine. That’s impossible,” Mr Jackson replied, shocked at the news.
“That is why I needed to talk to you privately, Jackie. I trust you,” she replied.
“I don’t believe this at all,” he said.
“I didn’t believe it either, but I had to intervene. But after speaking to Simi and their neighbour, I now think he might be a hero here, but back home he’s something else,” Mrs Qambu said.
“No, this can’t be true,” Mr Jackson defended his colleague.
“That is why I have come up with a plan to put matters to rest. We need him to know he is not above the law,” she said. “I will prove it. I will bring him to justice.”
Mrs Qambu’s phone started ringing. She took it out of her bag and looked at the screen.
“Sorry, I have to take this,” she said to the police chief. “Hello!”
“Principal, hi, it’s me Zwane,” a voice said, “he’s back.”
Tell us: Do you think the police will do anything to help Simthandile? Why or why not?