Frank pressed ‘end call’. “That’ll give you something to think about, Sam!” He lit up another cigarette and took a deep drag. How dare Sam say no to working for him? Frank could not remember when last someone turned down the chance to be one of his boys … with all the money, the cars, the girls that he provided.

But Sam would come around to the idea. He’d have to … or else. He heard a rap on the door, opened it to Mam’Gqwashu with a smile and a wink. “Good to see you, Mama. You say you’ve brought me fresh meat?”

Mam’Gqwashu’s grin spread across her face, the light twinkled on her gold tooth. She pushed a pretty young thing into the room. The girl looked scared, and she did not look up from the floor.

“This is Sinethemba,” Mam’Gqwashu said, poking the girl in the back with a crooked finger. “You might know her brother. I believe you’ve had words? Well, this one is so pretty I’ve brought her to you for the Club, Frank. It’s time to make the girls work for us, after all we’ve done for them.”

Frank walked around Sinethemba, looked her up and down, said: “Not bad.” He grabbed her wrist and chuckled. “She’s a bit skinny, but we can fatten her up in no time.”

Frank had already decided that Zinhle would be going to the club tonight. No way he was going to wait for Sam to pay him the money. Zinhle would bring in a packet. She was so gorgeous – her smooth, clear skin, full lips and shapely body… The guys would be lining up for her. But Frank was going to break her in first. And now he had more fresh meat!

“Two sweet girls. But why bring this one to me, Ma? Have I been a good boy?” Frank chuckled and Sinethemba looked up with fear and disgust at the gangster, who was leering at her.

“That brother of hers has to learn a lesson. He stole her from me in the first place. I can’t allow the message to get out that I’m soft. Nor can you, Frank,” said Mam’Gqwashu. It sounded almost like a warning…

“Well, well, well,” grinned Frank. “Now I recognise you, little sista. You are Sam’s sister.”

“Yes, that’s right, you idiots – and he’s going to come get me in no time! Then you’ll be sorry you treated me like a piece of meat.” Sinethemba’s outburst surprised Mam’Gqwashu and Frank, who stepped towards Sinethemba threateningly. He raised his hand and Sinethemba cowered, waiting for the slap … but it didn’t come.

“We can’t have any marks on you before tonight, my darling. Ma – seems like this one has a wild streak. Don’t worry … I’ll fix that and make her nice and obedient.” Then he threw Sinethemba into the same room as Zinhle. “Get acquainted, girls. Tonight we’ve got a treat for you. You ever been to a night club? Just wait till you see the bright lights – you’ll never want to go to school again.” He slammed the door shut.

Frank offered Mam’Gqwashu tea. They sat together on the stoep, drinking and talking.

“That brother of hers is causing trouble. I don’t want the police on my doorstep,” Mam’Gqwashu complained, waving her fat, crooked finger at Frank.

“Be cool Ma. Chill. I’ve got it all under control. Sam will not trouble you anymore after my boys get to him. That’s a promise.” Mam’Gqwashu knew that Frank kept his promises, and she felt her tension fade.

Frank rubbed his hands together and thought back to that fateful day, six months ago, when he had decided to lend this kid ten grand. Seems like that was the best decision of my life, he thought, with a chuckle: he had got back much more than that amount from the robbery, and had scored two lovely ladies for free. He sent Sam an SMS:

Yr sisi is cute, nw I hve 2 of your grls…
dat sweet meat is all mine

Sam was pacing outside his school when he got the message. A cold sweat broke out on his forehead and he felt like he was going to be sick. I must act now, he thought, before it’s too late. Sam messaged Nombu and Thando, as well as Xolani. They met outside the school gates. Sam was so tired, but he had hope once again. Nombu and Thando were smart girls, and Xolani could help too – even though he’d screwed up. Sam knew this was his last chance to save the girls he loved.


Tell us what you think: How do people like Frank and Mam’Gqwashu become so cruel?