Being the brave woman she was, Makhulu Tshezi opened the door, armed with her torch and her walking stick. Silently, she peeped out. Nothing was in sight. The night was thick with darkness. After the two shots and the silence of the dogs it suddenly turned eerily quiet. One could hear a needle falling. The dark clouds in the blue-greyish skies made it hard to see a meter away.
“Gila! Bathathe! Where are these dogs now?”
Makhulu Tshezi knew that no-one would dare enter her premises in the presence of her dogs. So she started whistling, looking around with the torch in hand.
“Oh! Oh Holy Trinity! Yehova wemikhosi!” she wailed, her hands on her head.
Near their kennels, which were placed a few meters from the door of the hut, lay the dogs, blood oozing out of their mouths. Both had fresh gunshot wounds. Gilumntu, the fierce one, was lying close to the door of her hut, while the other lay between the two kennels.
As if something suddenly reached her mind Makhulu Tshezi ran back inside her hut. Like a hundred drums, her heartbeat pulled a hand to rest above her left breast, as if to calm it down.
“Who are these people? What do they want?” she whispered to herself, as she pushed the door shut and it automatically locked.
Her legs started to shake uncontrollably; she felt nauseous. She slowly sat down on the floor, right by the door. She continued pressing her hand hard on her chest, as if trying to silence the thumping noise of her heart.
Then her phone rang. It was on the table next to her bed. She looked at it but was unable to move. From shaking violently, now her legs had suddenly turned stiff. She tried to breath but there was a sharp pain on her chest and then she started sweating profusely.
The phone stopped ringing. She sat there trying to think but her mind was a whirlwind of terrible thoughts! All she could see was Mazomzi lying down, dead, cold, a few hours ago. As if that was not enough, she felt as if she could smell the hot blood soaking Gilumntu’s head.
No! This must be a dream, she thought to herself. The phone rang again.
“I must try standing up,” she said to herself, struggling to rise. Eventually she was up and limping, almost dragging her leg. She picked up the phone.
“I can’t even see who this is,” she said squinting.
She looked at the old kist that was on the other side of the room. Her husband had bought it for her 30 years ago, when he was still working on the mines in Boksburg. Though it was old, it was still strong. A big lock was hanging on the side as it was always locked shut.
She covered her face with her hands and started praying again: “Somandla! Thixo….”
Tramp! Tramp! Footsteps. They sounded closer and closer, and soon she could tell that two or more people were outside her hut. She opened her eyes, her lips quivering. She listened. Silence again.
“Who are you? What do you want in my yard, you Satan? You killed my dogs? Hey? You devil!”
Though she tried to be strong her voice was shaky. She was already half dead with fear. She had heard horrible stories of how old women were attacked in their homes, some even killed. Yes, she had seen a story on her television of an old woman who lived alone in a nearby village who got raped and then strangled and left for dead.
Then her eyes strayed onto the kist again. She was not sure whether to take out the money she had hidden there, under some of her best clothes and bed linen. Recently, when the cattle buyers came along, she had sold two of her young bulls. The R20 000 was still kept tightly in a sock, in there, waiting for Vuyo to come and take it to the bank.
“They are coming for the money,” she thought to herself. “Who might have told them?” Then she remembered that a few people in the village, especially those present during the stokvel day, knew that she had sold two young bulls.
“But only Skhwehle knows that the money is still here. Did Skhwehle tell someone?” she wondered, her mind racing, trying to figure out what was going on. At least there were strong iron bars on both windows and a security gate. It would not be easy for anyone to break in, she consoled herself.
The phone rang again. She picked it up.
“Hello! I can’t hear. Speak louder! Hello!”
Craaack! The awful sound on the window made her drop the phone, screaming. The phone cut off again.
“Yhuuu! Yhuuuuuu!” The big stone thrown through the window rolled down to the middle of the hut, along with shattered glass falling everywhere.
She wailed, “Who are you? What do you want?”
There was the sound of feet running around her rondavel now. Her stomach started grumbling and it felt like she would need the bathroom immediately, but it was outside the hut! She crossed her legs tightly hoping the urge would fade away. And it did, because her attention was soon elsewhere.
She smelled something – yes, it was burning wood. Grass. Car tyres.
Suddenly, angry voices just by the broken window, shouted: “Burn the witch! Burn the witch! Gqwirhakazi, today you die!”
Tell us: Who do you think is outside? Why do they accuse Makhulu of being a witch?