I decided when I got back to Nokeng that first of all I needed to get information on Enoch and Radithedi. I loaded my surveillance backpack and headed out. Bonang said she had met them by her church so I started there.
I only had a vague description of what they looked like but it didn’t take me long to spot them. Enoch, the tall one wearing a green robe, was talking to an old lady not far from the church. I sat on a nearby bench pretending to be reading a book, but I could hear everything he said. Straight away I could see they were trying a variation on their game.
“My visions brought me to you, madam. I’ve been sent to help you with your health issues,” Enoch said to the old woman. She walked hunched over, using a cane. Even from where I sat I could hear her wheezy breathing. Anyone could see she had health problems.
“I’m sorry, young man, but I’m in a hurry.” The old lady attempted to leave, but Enoch placed his hand on her arm.
“Please, I’ve been sent to help you. I wouldn’t want you to go before I at least pray for you.”
The old woman looked at her watch. “OK … just one short prayer.”
Enoch closed his eyes and prayed for the old woman’s health. Just as he was finishing, Radithedi came along.
“Oh! Prophet Enoch! I can’t believe you’re here. I’ve been wanting to show you how your prayers worked. Look at me! I’m completely healthy.” He spun around, did a little jump to show his fitness. Then he turned to the old woman. “You know, madam, this man is amazing. I was nearly dead. The doctors gave me only a few days to live. But this man, this prophet, came to my hospital room and prayed over me … and look at me now! Completely healed. I owe everything to him. He is very powerful.”
The old woman was suddenly more interested and I was suddenly furious. How did these two think it was OK to steal money from this sick, old woman? They discussed meeting the next day at the same spot where the woman would give them R3000 and Enoch would take her to a secret sacred place in the rocks where he would pray over her for healing.
The woman left and I followed the two as they headed for a one-roomed house at the edge of the village. I watched as they went inside to collect a few beers from the small room and then sat outside in their make-shift sitting room/kitchen. It was made of two old car seats around a table that was actually an old door sitting on four cement blocks. I watched them for a while longer. They seemed to be set for the evening. At least I knew where they lived. I decided I would also make sure I kept the appointment the next day to stop the old woman from handing over her money to these thieves.
I was just about to knock off when Bonang arrived at the office. She plopped down on my second-hand, sagging sofa. “Oh I’m exhausted!”
“So the modelling is keeping you busy then?” I asked.
“It sure is. But I have made a lot of money already.” She pulled a handful of cash out of her handbag.
“They pay you in cash?”
“No, I got it from the machine just now.”
“Why? You ought to be careful; it’s not safe moving around with that kind of money.”
“I need to pay someone tomorrow.”
“Who must you pay that much cash to?” I was getting worried. I hoped it wasn’t who I thought it was.
“I … you know, Lola, you could occasionally turn off your detective radar. Not everything is a case for you to solve.”
“I just hope you’re not giving any more money to those ‘prophets’. Jomo told me you took money from your housing fund and now it looks like you want to give them all of your modelling money too. Why? They’re nothing but crooks.”
OK. I didn’t mean to say that. It just all came pouring out. I was still angry after I saw them organising to take money from a sick old lady, and now this. I knew the money was for the prophets, but I shouldn’t have said it.
Bonang gave me her deadliest look and turned and left. I picked up the phone to warn Jomo that he was likely to be in trouble too because of my big mouth.
I phoned Gideon when I got home. I had explained to him the day before why I was positive Mr Samuel was the thief.
First, it was obvious he was having money problems. This was a man who liked nice things. He wore designer shoes and a designer suit, but both were nearly worn out. It wasn’t that he didn’t make enough money; he was an editor for one of the biggest newspapers in the country. Something was taking all of his money and it took only a cursory look to see what it was.
Second, he had the Turffontein Racecourse calendar on his wall and when we walked into the office he was using an online betting site. Mr Samuel had an addiction – he was a gambler. And things were out of hand. So out of hand he had to steal the earrings.
“So, is everything ready for tomorrow night?” I asked.
“Yes, but I feel bad about this. Is it even right to set him up? Why can’t we just talk to him? Maybe he can simply give those earrings back.”
“He’s likely to have sold the earrings. If we’re lucky he sold them to a pawn broker and he can get them back, but he won’t do that unless he’s forced. Addiction is like that; it’s very strong. This will force him. This will force him to do a lot of things we want him to do.”
“But he’s going to hate us. He’ll never forgive me for the betrayal.”
“At first, yes. But maybe if it works, later, after some time, he’ll come around. He’s a good man inside. He doesn’t want to have to be doing these things.”
“I hope you’re right, Lola. Because I feel really bad about it all.”
“This time I know we’re doing the right thing.” I didn’t mention that a lot of other times I don’t and pretend I do. But this time? This time I was certain we were doing the right thing.
Tell us what you think: What are Lola and Gideon planning to do?