Thulani flits in and out of consciousness for a week at St Mary’s Hospital. He startles awake from a deep sleep and sees the light. He closes his eyes quickly.
“Baby,” Lindiwe gently touches the side of his face.
He exhales and opens his eyes again, this time focusing on Lindiwe’s face instead of the light.
Lindiwe never wears make up but her beauty shines through. Thulani tells her all the time that she looks like she was made from more expensive materials than other human beings. The texture of her even brown skin is unique and beyond soft. Her hair is of the same silky black quality as her thin eyebrows. And the rest of her features are equal or more excellent than these.
“The light is too bright,” Thulani says.
“Nothing is too bright, babe. You’ve just been asleep for nine hours. It’s the-”
“Trauma. I’m definitely traumatized,” Thulani smiles because he has correctly finished Lindiwe’s sentence.
Lindiwe chuckles and kisses Thulani on the forehead.
“Are you okay, baby?” Lindiwe sits on the bench next to the bed.
“I don’t know, you’re the doctor.”
“I am,” Lindiwe shrugs. “But not your doctor. Thulani, you do know you would’ve been in better care if you’d let them take you to my hospital in the first place?”
“I can’t afford a private hospital, babe,” Thulani speaks with his eyes closed. “How is work?”
“Work is fine.”
“When am I going home?”
“I don’t know, that bloody woman you call a doctor might keep you for another week just to piss me off,” Lindiwe says. “You’d have been home in three days under my care.”
“Okay, babe,” Thulani says and falls back to sleep.
Zothani and Rasta are in a silver-grey Opel Zafira at The Pavilion Shopping Mall parking lot. It’s an unassuming 7-seater family car with a baby-on-board sticker on the back windscreen, which makes it the perfect car for following targets. Today, however, they are not up to anything.
“They beat him up proper, huh?” Rasta says as he unwraps his Steers burger.
“Too much,” Zothani says. “Mom said he’s still in hospital.”
“And they didn’t open a case against the Berets?”
“Nah, mom and Thulani know better, but I hear his girlfriend is still pushing them to do it.” Zothani takes a bite at his burger.
“Obviously, rich people think there is justice in South Africa.” Rasta picks at his burger piece by piece, starting with the vegetables.
“I wish she could open a case so she’ll learn the hard way. Those Berets would probably shoot her in the back of the head the same day.”
“And Thulani would kill himself the same night,” Rasta says.
They both laugh until they run out of breath. Zothani stares incredulously as Rasta munches on the beef patty. He devours it fast and then licks his fingers one by one, dramatizing the whole thing.
“Hypocrite,” Zothani says.
Rasta shakes his head, sending his dreadlocks swinging and puts up a fist. “Rastafari!”
They laugh and continue eating in silence.
“I hate this,” Zothani says when he’s done eating. “Thulani doesn’t deserve all of this.”
Thoughts have been swirling in Zothani’s mind since he heard the Berets raided his childhood home after the jewellery heist. He wonders who passed information to the police. But his team of Rasta, Jack and Mlu are not on his list of possible informants because he trusts them completely.
But Zothani is mistaken. Mlu their trusted driver, is the culprit. Mlu is home speaking on the phone with his uncle, a top Beret officer, as Zothani and Rasta are eating burgers at The Pavillion parking lot.
“His brother didn’t tell us anything. Where does he live? Where is the jewellery?” says Mlu’s uncle.
“I don’t know, Uncle Bafana,” says Mlu in hushed tones. “No one knows where Zothani lives, not even Rasta who is his best friend. And I think he is getting suspicious because he has not been with us since the heist. He only says he will call once the deal with the buyer of the jewellery is complete.”
“Don’t lie to me, Mlu! What about the money you are flashing around? All those new clothes you bought?”
“I’m not lying, Uncle Bafana. We got a bit of money from the cash register at the jewellery store and shared that.”
“You’ve got to do better, Mlu. The whole point of you being my informant is to get me information. My team is getting frustrated. I can’t keep protecting you if you don’t give me information to get Zothani.”
“Okay, Uncle Bafana. I’ll get the information soon.”
Tell us: do you feel any sympathy for Zothani?