Sam ran from the supermarket, he chased after the car, but it was no use. Zinhle was gone. The simple ‘in-and-out’ robbery had turned into Sam’s worst nightmare come true.

“What the hell happened there, Sam?!” Mohammed screamed. “All my takings! Do you know anything about this? And those thugs threatened us with a gun. We could have been killed!”

“They took Zinhle, that’s all I know.” Sam felt desperate. He wanted to tear his hair out with fury and frustration. Why had Frank taken Zinhle? Was the money not enough? Sam had put himself on the line. He’d become little more than a criminal himself to get the money to repay Bra Frank, and the whole plan had backfired.

“We have to call the police,” said Mohammed, starting to walk back into the shop.

At that very moment Sam felt and heard his cell go off in his pocket. It was Zinhle’s favourite song, ‘their song’ he called it; Kings of Leon’s Manhattan. The song she had been listening to that afternoon in the supermarket. The afternoon she had let him walk her home. Hearing it now made him feel even more desperate. He had to get her back! He read the SMS. It was her phone, but the deadly message could only be from Bra Frank.

if u eva wnt to c her ALIVE agen then
do as we say nd NO police

Sam ran after Mohammed. “Please, no police. Not yet!”

“I want my money back Sam, and I have a good idea who the thugs are.”

“Please Mohammed, look at this.” He showed him the SMS. “He has sent it from Zinhle’s phone. Give me a few days.”

“That’s even more reason to go to the police! Tell me Sam, how are you mixed up in all this?”

“I’ll explain everything in twenty-four hours. I promise, that’s it. Then we go to the police together.” He could not tell Mohammed the truth. Not yet. But he swore, in that moment, to pay back every cent.

“One thing’s for sure, it’s time for me to get a gun. Next time I’ll protect myself,” Mohammed muttered.

Sam was already out the door. Who could he go to? Mr Sotshononda at The Haven Children’s Home? That would be the same as going to the police. He dared not. He ran to Vulamasango High. He waited for the school to be dismissed, then looked for Thando and Nombu. He had to face facts. They were smart. He needed help.

“What’s up with you Sam, you look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

“Something terrible has happened. Zinhle has been abducted.”

Thando exclaimed, “What are you talking about? Why would anyone take Zinhle?”

“It’s my fault. I’ve got myself mixed up with Bra Frank.”

“We warned her not to hang out with you,” said Nombu. “You’re bad news Sam.”

The two of them bombarded him with questions and accusations: “Why has this happened to her? Where is she? What are you going to do about it? What’s going on, Sam? How can we trust you Sam? How do we know you’re not just trying to get money from us?”

“She was taken right from under my eyes, at the supermarket, during a robbery. He’s warned us not to call the police. If I tell the police Frank says he’ll do something to her. Rape her or kill her.”

He did not want to tell them it was his fault, that he’d made a plan to let Bra Frank into the shop at just the right time to easily rob Mohammed. But he knew he had to be truthful. He sat down and said, “Please listen. Don’t judge. I am sorry for what I’ve done.” He told them the story. “Now I want Zinhle to be safe. I have to find her.”

“And soon,” said Nombu.

“Ja, he’s done this before,” said Thando. “Do you remember? That girl called Nikiwe? She just disappeared. Even the police are scared of him. No-one goes near him.”

“You know I care about her like I’ve never cared about any other girl,” said Sam. “She’s my true love and now this happens. I don’t want to put her in any more danger. I want to give Frank the money, get her back, and then we can maybe talk about going to the police.”

“We can’t let him get away with terrorizing our community anymore. Frank has to be stopped,” said Nombu.

“Will you help me?”

“Whatever it takes, Sam, we’ll help you get her back. She’s our friend too,” said both girls at once.

His cellphone started ringing. He pulled it from his pocket, put it on speaker.

Zinhle’s tortured voice cried: “Help me! Do what he says, Sam, or he’ll kill me!”

Then he heard Bra Frank’s chilling demand: “Get R5000 to me in three days or she is mine to do with what I want…”


Tell us what you think: What can Sam do?