Mdu’s reputation as a gangster preceded him, and I did not want him near my family. But I was surprised when he entered with biscuits, a cold drink and a big packet of chips. He smiled, placed the cold drink on the table and sat on a chair. Linda had Owethu on her lap in the opposite chair.
Mdu’s face shrivelled into concern when he saw Owethu. He dipped into his jeans pocket and fished out a R100 note.
“Go get her something to eat, sisi,” Mdu said, and handed the R100 note to Linda. “She does not look well.”
Linda grabbed the money, handed Owethu to me and rushed out the door. We sat in silence while I rocked the baby. Mdu opened the packet of chips and held out his hands to me.
“Give me the baby,” he said.
“Give me the baby! I’ll feed her chips before she passes out from hunger. You get dressed in the meantime. We have to go as soon as your girlfriend comes back.”
I was hesitant to hand Owethu over to him.
“Give me the baby, Spha. Do you think you will drive to Port Shepstone bare-chested and in boxer shorts?”
Mdu stood up. With the gentlest smile and great care he took Owethu from me. He began feeding her the soft cheese chips. I realized, as Owethu ate the chips, that it was the first time she had stopped crying since the break of dawn. She ate a few more chips and began smiling as Mdu made playful gestures with his hands. Mdu looked at me, the smile and playful gestures suddenly replaced by a scowl.
“Are you still here? Go get dressed, Spha! We need to go get this money!”
The smile and playful hand gestures returned as Mdu fed Owethu, but we left as soon as Linda returned.
“Get in, Spha. You are driving,” Mdu said. “We’ll pick up Padlock in Chesterville.”
I stood outside his car, hesitant to open the door.
“I don’t know the way to Chesterville,” I said.
Mdu got fed up with me.
“Do you think this is a joke, Spha? I saved your life. I vouched for you when Padlock wanted to put a bullet in your head. Do you think this is a joke? Do you think just because I cuddled your baby I’ll hesitate to blow your brains out?”
He quickly cocked the gun he found under his seat.
“I know it’s not a joke,” I said.
“Now calm down. Stop being scared. We have an inside man. We have the best machinery to sweep away whatever stands in our way.”
He opened a gym bag at his feet to reveal two AK-47s and another handgun.
“Everything will be fine. You are just the driver and lookout guy. But you have to understand that if you drop the ball your family is dead.”
I eased the BMW out of the gravel roads of the neighbourhood.
“Don’t go over the speed limit,” he said as we entered the freeway to Chesterville. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance, Spha. I don’t want any mistakes.”
Tell us what you think: Would Mdu really kill Spha’s family? Or is he too soft, or not want to risk being caught for murder as well as robbery?