I measured the size of his dirty feet. He looked at me with admiration and sat down on a bench about ten metres away while I entered the store.

I passed a sleepy security guard and walked confidently to the back of the shop where the shoe section was. Another rule: if you have stolen successfully, don’t return too soon to the same shop. I hadn’t been in that store for months. Nobody took any notice of me. I saw nice warm boots for Modise, that even had a kind of fur inside so that he would not need any socks. It was easy to tear off the alarm patch.

They were just a little too big to put under my thick jacket. But there was no other way. I squeezed the shoes under my sweater and closed the zip of the jacket. No camera could see me. But when I glanced at myself in the mirror it was obvious that such a big tummy did not fit my otherwise slim body. What to do?

There was just one way: be patient. The other customers wouldn’t care. Only the sales staff and the security guy were a danger to me. I waited until the sales lady in the shoe section went to the storeroom to check something and the cashier was busy with another customer. Then I sauntered slowly to the entrance. The guard was still sleepy but was watching the entrance closely.

I could not wait much longer.

This was where I needed Modise. Fortunately, he had already noticed me from his bench. I nodded slightly and, as a natural talent, he knew what I meant. He stood up and walked towards the security guy. When he tried to walk into the shop, the guard, as expected, stopped him.

Suka – go away, boy!’ he shouted. Modise protested a bit, then ran off, pretending to be angry. His little show was diversion enough for me to get out unnoticed. We met in front of KFC as agreed and walked out of the mall together. Then we ran to the other side of the street. Only when we were safely behind the BP garage did I show him the shoes.

Enkos’ buthi – thank you, brother!’ Modise said, and I could see how happy he was. He pulled on the new shoes and ran joyfully up to the toilets and back.

Zintle – so beautiful!’ It was not easy to calm him down. For me that would have been enough. But then Modise made a big mistake. He wanted to do something for me now. He took off the new boots and put them into a secret place behind the toilets. ‘Let me also show you something at PEP, Mbu!’

I knew it was wrong. Never return to a place of action too soon. The store he’d chosen was much too close to the one I’d just been in. Rule number two: never do something when you are excited. Modise was much too excited.

But somehow this little guy was such a warm, smart boy that I agreed to follow him back to the mall. I thought he would try to get a small chocolate or something for us from the display counters near the cashiers. This was quite an easy job – and I trusted that Modise would not make a mistake.

But he made a crazy mistake. Just for me.

Tell us what you think: What do you believe the mistake is?