The next day felt like a dream. The competition was over, but it would be a whole day before the judges had decided who the winner was.

The Rising Star people had organised a day of outings for the competitors, to keep them busy – they would go to some museums, and go out to lunch at a restaurant. Emma was enthusiastic about it, but Rozena said that she had a headache and would rather stay behind in her hotel room.

“I need the time to see whether that trojan I planted on Natasha’s computer is any good,” she explained to Emma, in private.

“Well … okay,” said Emma. “I can’t help you with that, can I? I might as well go on this trip.”

When she was sure that everyone had left, and there would be no interruptions, Rozena opened her laptop and started up the program that would allow her to access Natasha’s computer via the trojan virus.

It was very easy. In a few moments, she had opened Natasha’s email account, and was reading through the messages. She did a search for any emails that had anything to do with Mark van Reenen, but all she found was some birthday messages, and some emails to Natasha’s mother. It felt wrong, to read these messages. It was as though she was rummaging about in Natasha’s cupboard, or reading her private diary.

Next, she looked through Natasha’s Facebook account. Here she found more about Mark. There were pictures of him at family events, on the beach, at birthday parties – but Rozena soon realised that all these pictures were several years old. She remembered that Natasha had said that her parents were divorced. Natasha was living with her mother in Cape Town, and Mr van Reenen had moved to Johannesburg. Maybe the photos had stopped after the divorce?

Rozena looked in Natasha’s direct messages in Facebook. This was where she would expect to find secret messages, if there were any, but it seemed that Natasha hardly used this part of Facebook.

After a break to go down to the hotel cafeteria to get some food for lunch, Rozena went back to her room and started all over again, searching all the files in Rozena’s laptop.


If Natasha was helping her father by passing on messages, she was being very clever – maybe using a different account under a fake name, but if so, then Rozena didn’t know how to check for that. Certainly, there was nothing that the trojan virus could show her, that would help SCRAM in any way.

For a while this thought made Rozena feel better. It looked as if she’d made the right decision after all, and there was no reason to give SCRAM access to Natasha’s computer.

But then she started worrying. After all, SCRAM might be better than she was at tracing online activity. What if the reason why she hadn’t found anything was not because Natasha was innocent, but because she was very, very good at what she did? What if SCRAM had technicians who could look at the same files that Rozena was looking at, and find evidence there that she wasn’t even seeing? Rozena didn’t want to believe it, but how could she be sure?

By the time Emma came back to the hotel, Rozena really did have a headache.

Emma tried to get her to come down to supper, but the thought of seeing Natasha after she’d spent the day scratching around in her private files made Rozena feel so guilty she really did feel sick as well.


Tell us: How does it make you feel to know computer experts can so easily, secretly, look at anyone’s private online messages and pictures?