Rasta raises his eyebrows and glances at Zothani. He slows down to force the car behind him to overtake and be between the Opel Zafira and Lindiwe’s Renault.
It is midday on Monday and Lindiwe is driving on a quiet suburban road in Glenwood. She has the radio volume on high while snacking on calamari. They’ve followed her on this route before and saw that she usually ends up at a medical laboratory a few kilometres ahead.
Rasta checks his mirrors and taps Zothani on the shoulder. “We’re clear,” he says.
Zothani puts on a balaclava, slides through the space between the passenger and driver seat, and lays on the floor of the backseat. Rasta steps on the gas until the Opel is right behind the Renault. He flashes his headlights two times and then moves to the other lane to drive besides the Renault. Lindiwe looks at the man inside the family car and wonders if it’s someone she knows. She turns down the music and opens her window.
“Your tyre,” Rasta points to her tyre. “Your tyre is flat!”
Lindiwe slows down and stops on the side of the road. She sees the baby-on-board sticker as the Opel stops in front of her. She hesitates to get out of her car for a few seconds until she sees Rasta exit from the family car.
“Hi,” Lindiwe says as she exits the car and looks at her right rear tyre.
“Are you alright, princess?” Rasta says with an excellent Jamaican accent.
“I’m good, sir. And you?” she looks at the front right tyre. “Which one is it?”
“The back one on the other side,” says Rasta.
Lindiwe turns her back to Rasta to go check the rear left tyre. Rasta quickly looks around and pulls out his gun.
“But it looks-” Lindiwe lifts her eyes to see Rasta pointing a gun at her.
“Let’s go, fast!” The Jamaican accent has suddenly disappeared. “Get in the car! Move!”
Lindiwe is shaking as she gets in the Opel Zafira. They take her to a house in KwaNdengezi. They keep her tied up, her mouth taped over until it’s time to eat. Three days pass. Zothani holds off on making the call because he wants everyone to be sure that Lindiwe is missing before he asks for a ransom.
Thulani is side-by-side with Lindiwe’s friends and family in their search for Lindiwe during these three days. He’s on Facebook, sharing Lindiwe’s pictures and begging people to help find her. The police also visit him and ask him fair questions. They have no reason to suspect him because he has a perfect alibi – he was at work. Thulani, with his concern and optimism, is a pillar of strength to Lindiwe’s family and friends. He only breaks down after Lindiwe’s father announces that he has received a call from a man who claims to have Lindiwe and wants R500 000 ransom.
For the next few days Thulani doesn’t want to eat or bath or sleep or be awake. He doesn’t want to be alive. He feels like the most useless human being on earth when he gets messages that Lindiwe’s family and friends are struggling to raise the half-a-million ransom. He knows that Lindiwe’s father’s car alone is worth almost that much but he won’t sell it because he is adamant that he’ll put his faith in the police to rescue her. He doesn’t understand why Lindiwe’s dad is gambling with her life.
“Zothani!” Thulani laments on the phone.
“How are you doing, my brother? I heard about your girlfriend.”
“I’ll do anything I need to do for 500k. Anything!” Thulani weeps.
“Calm down, bro. Everything will be alright..”
“Nothing is will be okay. Just tell me what to do. Please help me. Just for once in your life, help me!”
Zothani clenches his teeth, holding off tears. “I will, Thulani. I promise,” he says.
Tell us: do you think Zothani is really helping his brother at this point?