Motso opened the door a crack and peeped out. “What’s happening?” Sim whispered. Toya was still pressed in his arms, and he didn’t want to let her go. Ever.

Hayibo! They’ve grabbed a woman and her little girl!” Motso’s hand flew to her mouth. “Hau! They’ve got a gun to her head. They’re coming this way…”

“I didn’t lock the shop door,” Sim muttered. “I didn’t have the key.”

Toya began to whimper. Sim looked around desperately. At the back of the storeroom was a small broom cupboard. He opened the door, pulled out a broom and mop, and stashed them in the corner. “Get in, quick!”

Toya didn’t need a second invitation. She squeezed inside and sat on an upturned bucket. “Close the door!” she snapped.

Motso gave the cupboard a filthy look. “Typical,” she muttered. “Coward. I’m going to phone the police.” She began to open the stockroom door.

“What are you doing?” Sim whispered, grabbing her arm.

“Going out to where there’s reception. There’s no reception in here, remember?”

“You’re not going anywhere,” said Sim firmly. I’ll go.”

“Be careful,” Motso said. “Don’t let them see you. Crawl out of the door, and under the desk. You’ll get reception there.”

Sim opened the door a crack. The three masked men were in the passage outside the shop. He could see the woman clearly. She had a little girl with her ¬– the child was crying. And when she turned he saw that the woman was heavily pregnant. She looked shocked.

“I’d better hurry,” he thought. He dropped down and leopard-crawled across the floor to the front desk. He snuck underneath it, sweat dripping down his forehead, and dialled the emergency number on his cellphone.

“This is an emergency,” he whispered into his phone. “Three armed men with two hostages, outside the Cell C store…”

“Stay calm sir,” the operator said. “The police have been notified. Someone will be with you shortly. How many people are with you?”

“Two – just my two colleagues and me. We’re hiding in the store room. They don’t know we’re here.”

“Is there any way you can leave your shop?”

“There’s just the one door and the robbers are standing right by it. Be quick, they’ve got a lady and she’s expecting. She doesn’t look too well. She’s holding her stomach. And her child is crying… she’s trying to make the little girl keep quiet.”

“What are the robbers doing now sir?”

“The one is pacing up and down. They’re trying to get into the jewellery store next door. The shop’s got some kind of alarm thingy ¬ the door locks if anyone interferes with it. Hold on – one of the robbers is inside. He’s stuck in there. They’ve got the lady and it looks like they’re telling the owners to let the robber out or they’ll shoot the lady. That won’t work. Once the alarm goes and the door locks only the police can unlock it…”

“What’s happening now, sir?” the operator asked. “Are you there Sir? Sir?”

Sim felt his heart jump into his throat. He whispered hoarsely into the phone: “They’re opening the door of my store…”

“Sim! Get back here, right now,” Motso hissed behind him.
“Sir, get back into the store room and hide,” the operator said. “The police are on their way right now.”

Sim scrabbled across the carpet on his hands and knees, just as the robbers shoved open the door, and pushed the pregnant woman and her wailing child into the shop.


Tell us what you think: If they start shooting do you think Sim will come out of the back room and protect the pregnant woman?