Taking my thoughts back to 2019, there was a beautiful young lady named Promise Mahlangu. She lived with her family in Sehlakwane, in Limpopo province. Her mother was a do worker and her father passed away when she was only five years old. Her mother and grandmother tried to put food on the table and make sure they lived better lives. Promise had two siblings, Nelisa and Jabulani. Nelisa and Jabulani’s father left home in 2017 and never came back. Promise could not endure the pain of witnessing her mother’s cries. She worked hard at school, she passed with high marks and was always a top learner.
In all those years, Promise never had friends and she respected both her mother and grandmother. She always obeyed the rules and helped people in the village when in need of help. Everytime when Mrs Nhlapho struggled with her sewing machine, she called Promise to help her. When Sister Lindo wanted someone to style her hair, she called Promise. And when the grade 10s needed help with Mathematics, they asked Promise. At other times they rewarded her with money or gifts on her birthday.
In 2019, Promise was in her 11th class. She did science subjects and was looking forward to being a doctor. Regardless of her background, she always kept her head up. She was a class representative, and everyone respected her except Loise and Jane. They were both friends, they sat at the backseat, they were disrespectful and lousy. Loise was the oldest one in the class and Jane just got pulled over.
One day Mrs Smith (their life orientation teacher) made a big decision that put Promise in a cold position. She grouped everyone into three for an assignment. Promise, Loise, and Jane were grouped together. Promise did not know where to start to deal with the girls. She asked Mrs Smith if it was possible for her to do the assignment alone, but her response was,” Promise you are the only one who can motivate those two lousy girls to study. I will not allow any of my learners to complete the assignment alone. It is a group work and that’s it.” Promise was disappointed and she figured a way to approach and handle Jane and Loise. It was not an easy thing to do but she did it. She called them and talked with them.
“So guys our chosen topic is about mental issues, I think we should start with some planning and state possible ideas we can think of”, said Promise.
“In which world are you living in? Don’t you know we have AI apps that help us with research projects?” asked Loise.
“No, that is called cheating and it is not what I am going to allow”, Promise replied.
“Oh now Miss know-it-all?? Then I guess you will have to write it by yourself for the three of us”, Jane concluded.
Promise did not want to write the whole assignment alone. She agreed with what the girls suggested.
“Okay so when are we writing it? How much should we contribute for data? And which class are we going to use?” she asked.
“No need to buy data. I have free wifi at my place and that means we are going to write the assignment at my place”, said Loise.
“Ohkay. We are starting on Saturday then”.
“Saturday?? You did not hear? Sam is hosting a house party this Saturday and we are going there. So sorry, we are not available”, Jane excitedly said.
“Yes, and don’t you wanna go with us? I know you need a breather gurl, being a monitress can be stressing sometimes.”
“No, I am not a party person. I won’t be able to go”, Promise said softly.
“Well, are we done here? Our uber is already at the gate so we must go”.
“Oh yeah just give me your whatsapp numbers and I will text you all”.
Jane and Loise gave Promise their whatsapp numbers and went off. Promise looked at them as they got in a beautiful Mercedes benz vehicle.
“I wish I was able to request an uber too”, she silently said to herself and started her one hour walk to home.
Promise got home at 5, tired and hungry. She had to start the fire and cook porridge and mashed potatoes. Nelisa and Jabulani’s chores were fetching water, feeding chickens, and washing dishes. Promise only had to cook and focus on her schoolwork. Her mother did not want to load her with lots of chores because she wanted her to finish school and find a job. After cooking she then created a group chat of herself, Loise, and Jane.
Later she viewed the girls’ status uploads. They uploaded pictures and videos every second. “Do they get a chance to study?”, she asked herself. Jane and Loisa uploaded pictures and videos of themselves eating from expensive restaurants, wearing expensive clothes, and in expensive cars.
“Your eyes will fall out if you keep staring at that phone in the next minute”, Said her mother.
“Mom I am looking at this”, She showed her mom.” Like where do they get money? We need money and they go around wasting money like that?”
“ My child, these two are probably selling their bodies for money. No child at that age can have so much money. Especially Jane, I work with her mother and her father is unemployed”, her mother replied.
“ Yoh sbwl this kind of life!!” she excitedly said.
“ No my child. Please promise me you won’t do silly things just for money. Do not ruin your life just for all that”, her mother warned her.
“Relax mom. I am Promise and I promise you that I will work hard for my money”, she gave her mother and granny cheek kisses and went to bed.
On Friday, Promise woke up and scratched a few mosquito bites. The smell of her granny’s fat cakes hit her nostrils and she prepared herself for school. Before she left, she checked Jane and Loisa’s statuses once again. They posted about Sam’s party and there was going to be a surprise artist. Promise got over it and started her way to school.
She saw Jane and asked if they could walk together, and she agreed.
“So no uber today? “Promise asked.
“Nah, I only do that when with Loise”, She lazily replied.
“Ohkay so who will the artist at the party be?” Promise asked.
“It is a surprise . I do not know either. Maybe it is A-Reece or Nasty C or Kabza the small, you’ll never know” Jane said
“ Ha! Ha! Ha! Nasty C, A-Reece? Here at Sehlakwane? Lol stop dreaming”, She hilariously said.
“Oh, really Promise. Stop Judging people. Just because we are living here does not mean we do not deserve big artists. If you attended the valentine’s day event then you wouldn’t be saying that now”, Jane angrily said.
“Oh, what happened in February?”, Promise asked in confusion.
“Dj Maphorisa was our surprise guest. So, stop thinking negative gurl” Jane replied.
Promise apologised and Jane understood. Promise had more to know. She asked Jane where she and Loise get all the money they spend. Jane responded by clicking her tongue and walking away leaving Promise behind. Promise knew she was hiding something.
During break time, Promise saw Jane sleeping on her desk. Loise did not come to school and Jane seemed bored. She decided to go and join her.
“Hey Jane”, she whispered.
“If you are Promise please leave me alone”, Jane replied without looking.
“I would like to go to the party with you guys. Only if you guys are okay with it”, she said.
“Oh, what changed? The promise I know hates partying and this one here is not the one. Are you serious?”
“Yes. I am grown now, and it is time to try new things”, confidently she said.
“okay I will send you the details about theme, ticket price, and other stuff”, Jane said as she stood up and grabbed her bag.
“Theme? Ticket? Price? Wait! isn’t it for free? And where are you going?”
“Yes, nothing is for free in this world. I am going home, I have a big day tomorrow, see you”
Jane went off and left Promise with lots of questions. Promise did not know why she decided to go to the party. She warned herself and focused on studying for the next test.
The next day, she woke up and found lots of notifications on her phone. They were about the party. Everyone was talking about it. She also found a text from Jane which read as follows:
“Hey little squabble. The party is still on.
Venue: Sam’s place in Vaaglagte, first house next to the shop.
Theme: girls– mini black dresses, boys– black jeans n white t-shirts
Time: 7pm till late.
Tickets: general– R100, VIP– R150, VVIP-R250
See you there”
“In vaaglagte? How will I get there? Okay I do have a mini dress but isn’t 7pm too late outside? What about my mom? How will I tell her?” many questions were left unanswered in her head.
She woke up, did her house chores, and started studying. Her mother got into her room and asked,” I was speaking with Jane’s mother over the phone, and she is asking it is true that you guys have an assignment, and you are supposed to write it today at school. Is it true or she lied?”
“ It is true mom”, Promise lied.
“ At 7pm? Is it not too risky?” Mother was concerned.
“ No, Mom we will call an uber and it will drive us. I was about to come and tell you mom. Can you please lend me R200 from the money Mrs Nhlapho gave me last week?”
“Okay no problem. Be safe my girl. I do not trust that Jane girl, she is bad news and please do not tell me her friend is part of your group”, reprimanded her mother.
“No mom she is not. I hate her”’ she said with a fake smile.
“Okay come and prepare food so that you can go with a full stomach”, her mother said.
Promise lied about going to school for an assignment. She never did it before. It was her first time. She did what her mother told her and later she prepared herself for the party. She wore track suits and packed her mini dress in her schoolbag. She said her goodbyes and her mother gave her the R200 she asked for.
Around the corner she took off her tracksuits and put on her mini dress. She then hid her schoolbag between the little bushes there. She hiked a taxi and paid to go to Vaaglagte. When she got there, she did not know where the shop was. She decided to ask people she met on the streets. She met 4 guys and one of them was from her school. He was in grade 12.
“Hello, my name is Promise and I am looking for a shop here, can you help?” She asked.
The guys kept quiet and stared at her from head to toes. That made her feel scared and uncomfortable. She decided to walk away but a deep voice behind her stopped her.
“ We can accompany you there, it is not safe for a lady like you to walk alone this time of the night here”, said the guy from her school.
“ Oh thank you. I know you, you are doing matric at my school”, she excitedly said.
The guys walked with her. They made jokes along the way until they reached a veld. In confusion Promise asked,” uh guys? We have been walking for 15 minutes and now this. Where are we?”
She got a hard punch on her head instead of an answer.
The following day her mother did not find her in her room. She got worried and called Jane’s mother to check if they are together or not. Jane was also not at home and both parents believed their daughters slept at school.
“You look worried, what is wrong?” Granny asked.
“ She did not come home last night Mama. I don’t know where she is”, She said.
Hours passed by and still no sign of Promise. Jane’s mother called.
“ Hello, Is she there?” Promise’s mother asked.
“No but Jane just got home now, and I am surprised she said she never saw Promise yesterday”, she replied.
“ What? It can’t be. They were supposed to be together”, She exclaimed.
“ I will ask her again. You better go and look for your daughter.”
Promise’s mother went to school to look for her daughter. The security guard told her no one was allowed to enter the school during weekends, and no one was there last night. She called the police and reported a missing person. The police told her to open a case after 24 hours. People in the community heard the tragic news. They helped by searching for her in dumping sides, they called hospitals and checked if she was not admitted there. Unfortunately, there was no sign of her. The herd man found her back in the bushes and called out people to identify it.
“That is my sister’s bag”, said Nelisa.
Police were called and finally they opened a case of a missing person. They searched for her in Sehlakwane and did not find anything. Jane confessed about everything, and Promise’s mother was disappointed in her daughter even when in pain. She cried day and night hoping to find her daughter.
Weeks passed, exams started and still no sign of her. People lost hope but not Promise’s mother. All she wanted was her daughter, dead or alive.
A month later, primary school children in Vaaglagte spotted a person dumbed near the bridge on their way home. They called for help and one of the village ladies was brave enough to check the person.
“USAPHILA!!! USAPHILA!!! BIZANI AMBULANCE”, She called out.
The village people called ambulance and police too. The girl was taken to hospital. Investigations revealed that the girl was dumped during the day because in the morning there was no one there.
Promise’s family was asked to come and identify if the girl was theirs or not. They got released for a moment and hoped for the better. After the whole month of living in pain there was a way forward. Her mother went to the hospital. Everyone heard her loudest wail. She cried as she saw the tiny, bandaged, bruised face of her daughter. It was Promise and she was badly injured. “Who did this to you, my child?” She asked and someone replied.
“ I cannot remove her picture from my head. Ever since that day, angikwazi ukulala. Ibuhlungu lento emenzakele lomtana”, she said.
“Sorry, who are you?” Promise’s mother asked as she wiped her tears.
“ Uxolo sisi. I am Nambitha. The lady who helped her when school children found her”, Nambitha said as she offered her a handshake.
Instead of shaking Nambitha’s hand, Promise’s mother gave her one biggest hug and cried in her arms. Nambitha tried to hush her, and the doctor came in.
“Good day ladies, the detective told me they found my patient’s mother, can I talk to her in private please?”
“Oh I’m her mother, thanks”, She said following the doctor to her office.
“You may have a seat Mrs. I am Dr Laurant, and your daughter is my patient”, She said.
“ Thank you Doc. Will my daughter be fine?”
“Unfortunately, I have bad news ma’am. Your daughter’s blood system was full of different types of drugs, she got strangled, beaten, sexually assaulted, and spent days without food. (Moment of silence) Sadly that’s not all, we did some test, and they came positive for both HIV and pregnancy.”
Promise’s mother did not know what to say. She looked at Dr Laurant then at her daughter’s file in disbelief. Many questions rumbled in her head. All she needed was a lead to the people who did all that to her daughter. The police made further investigations and still had no lead.
A few days later, Promise became conscious. She was traumatised and always scared especially when a male was around her. The doctor informed her about her health. The fact that she was pregnant and HIV positive really broke her heart. She had to decide whether she is keeping the baby or aborting it. Her life was flashing before her eyes.
After everything she has been through, it was a difficult decision for her. Her mother advised her to abort the pregnancy, but Promise was against that. She decided to keep the baby. She blamed herself for what happened to her.
“I brought all this shame to myself. I lied to you mom, and no one must be punished for this. This baby I am carrying will not suffer because of me. She/He will live the life I failed to live”, She said.
Afterall, Promise got counselling from school and was able to face reality. She became a laughingstock in the community, Jane and Loise made fun of her on social media and her relationship with her mother was not the same. Justice was not served for her, and the real perpetrators got away with crime just like that. The boy from her school was nowhere to be found.
Promise kept on going to school and kept her pregnancy a secret. She focussed more on passing her final exams since she missed her June exams. As months passed, her pregnancy started to become visible, and she asked to study from home. She only went to school when she had to write a certain exam.
The day of results came. Promise passed her grade 11 so well and she couldn’t wait to be in Grade 12. She asked for Grade 12 textbooks from her teachers and studied during the holidays. All that was better to do. Despite what she went through, she never gave up. She prayed and believed that someday everything will be fine.
Dear reader, whatever you are going through shall pass one day. Some events can change our lives to the worst. Take it all from Promise Mahlangu. She wanted a lifestyle she couldn’t afford. It was her first-time lying to her parent, and she ended up next to the bridge somewhere with pregnancy and HIV. From being a smart innocent girl to a victim of rape, HIV, and teenage pregnancy. It was her first-time going to a party and she ended up getting kidnapped for a month.
Everything happens for a reason in our lives all because of our actions.
No matter what happens, giving up is not an option. Always keep in mind that life is full of surprises and obstacles will always be there. Take those obstacles as lessons and keep on living.