Finally, the best news of all came from Karen: ‘The Doc said that there is now a room available for you at the HOKISA Children’s Home … they have accepted you, as long as we can organise your transport there. Congratulations, Mbu!’

But I was still worried: ‘Who will pay for the bus ticket from PE to Cape Town?’

‘I will,’ Karen said, smiling at me. I also had a smile on my face. I would never judge all social workers the same way again.

Two days later, very early in the morning, one of the youth workers woke me up and brought me to the main gate. A guard from the prison drove me to the bus station and gave me the ticket. Attached was a handwritten note from Karen: ‘Good luck, Mbu! Never come back!’

At six o’clock sharp the bus left, driving off into the early morning light, direction iKapa.


It was dark in Cape Town by the time the bus arrived thirteen hours later, almost on time. It had been agreed that I would wait at the terminal and that the Doc would fetch me from there in his old Toyota.

There are times in life when everything seems to go wrong. And other times when you are in the lucky draw, when things finally seem to go right … hopefully forever.

I still was in the lucky draw. I saw Doc before he saw me. There he was, like a father picking up his son. He carried my heavy bag over his shoulder and put it into the boot of his car. He offered me a juice while we drove. ‘Hungry?’ he asked.

‘Yes … thank you.’ He gave me a sandwich and an apple. We did not speak much.

When we arrived at the Children’s Home in Masiphumelele, Ta Simpra unlocked the gate for us. An icy wind was blowing. It was end of July, deep winter in the Western Cape. I had been away for more than six months.

The Doc gave me the key to the garden hut, a little brick house next to the entrance to the premises and adjacent to the doctor’s surgery. The hut was one of the rooms for teenagers at the Children’s Home. All the walls were painted white, and there was a cupboard, a bed with clean blankets and a small table with a lamp on it. You could still smell the fresh paint.

‘I only finished preparing your room this afternoon,’ Ta Simpra said.

It was close to midnight when he and the Doc left. I locked the door from the inside. Actually, I had been planning to go straight out to Yamkela or Atie, no matter how late it was. But I didn’t.

I needed to stay where I was. I needed to just be for a while. I felt safe in a way I had never felt safe before. Somebody had picked me up from the station, just like that. Somebody had organised a new bed for the room and Ta Simpra had painted it only this afternoon. All for me. Not for money. Why? I wasn’t sure. I just knew something was different in my life. Something good. I liked the smell of the fresh paint and decided not to go anywhere, not tonight … and not anymore.

Tell us what you think: Are you happy for Mbu?