The sun had completely disappeared, and it would have been dark save for the streetlights. Abongile ran toward where the smoke was coming from, but this time he went at a jog that he knew he could sustain. He was able to, despite the fact that his whole body felt drained from the adrenaline and crying from earlier. His feet pattered on the empty streets, sounding hollow and pathetic. He felt very small.

When he got onto Qoqoba Street he found blue and red lights flashing. There weren’t as many people as there had been in the beginning. He was hit by the smell of burnt flesh even before he reached the on-looking crowd.

He saw him. Saw Phumlani burnt and smouldering, the car tyre still around his burnt body, and he wept without making a sound.

“Abongile … my children … who did you leave them with?”

He had temporarily forgotten about the other reason why he was there. He didn’t trust himself enough to be able to speak, instead he just shrugged. He half expected his mother to explode. Instead, she sighed deeply.

“Sisi, let me leave. I have children waiting for me back home.”

Abongile hadn’t even noticed Siphenathi’s mother with her.

“Let me walk with you, Sisi. There’s no reason for me to stay here.”

They all started walking home together. Abongile turned to look at Phumlani’s smouldering body one last time.

“Oh yini my child! I’m not even thinking. Don’t worry – that’s not him. Phumlani was beaten badly but the police and ambulance arrived just in time. He was even talking before they left with him. Your aunt has gone to the hospital and your father will meet up with her there,” his mother said, catching the tears in his eyes.

“Poor child. Your son is very brave MaNkwali. He was begging everyone to stop. It broke my heart to see it. I was half scared he would get himself hurt.”

“I can’t thank you enough Sisi. You saved me. I would have gone insane if anything had happened to him. Already I’m utterly confused as to how Phumlani got mixed up in a gang. Especially since his mother, the only parent he has, has given so much of herself to try and give him everything he needed, to raise him right. I can’t believe it! I don’t know Sisi, let me tell you, I just don’t know”


Tell us: What advice would you give Phumlani now that he is safe in hospital?