Tata's Anger 1/4

By Drum Digital
17 January 2014

What has Vuyo gotten himself into?

I started crying. Tata was going to kill me! I’d lost his money. How could I have been so stupid? How could I have been so foolish and play football with my friends when I knew very well I was on an errand and my father would be angry with me if I didn’t return promptly?

It would be worse if I didn’t bring back what he had sent me for. And on top of that I had lost his money.

Here’s how it happened. The shops were closed that day. I didn’t know that. No one knew that the shops were closed. I’d been sent to buy some groceries for the house. When I reached the shops I saw police vans and cars all over the place.

People were huddled in small groups. I heard that one of the shopkeepers had shot dead a boy. According to the shopkeeper, the youth had threatened him with what looked like a gun.

The young guy had wrapped a black cloth around his hand and pointed it at the shopkeeper like a gun. He had threatened to shoot the shopkeeper unless he handed him all the money from the till.

The man’s gun was next to the till where the boy couldn’t see it. He pretended to open the till and instead went for his gun and shot the boy in the neck. He died instantly.

No gun was found next to his body, only a black cloth. Some people were angry.

They disputed the man’s story, saying he was blood- thirsty. Couldn’t he see the youth was un- armed? Others said he hadn’t been sure, the boy could have been armed and the shopkeeper had not wanted to take any chances. I stayed on to see what would happen.

Some people wanted the shopkeeper arrested, while others said he’d acted in self- defence. Most people who owned shops in the area sided with the shopkeeper.

They said they were victims of crime and were sick and tired of reporting these criminal activities to the police because the cops never did anything to catch the crooks.

Not that they wanted to take the law into their own hands, but the police protection they needed wasn’t forthcoming. They said they didn’t condone what the shopkeeper had done but not so long ago three youths shot dead a shopkeeper as he was closing his store.

Several people had witnessed what happened that night. According to them, the youths had confronted the owner of the shop and had demanded money from him.

When the man refused, a scuffle broke out and he was gunned down. The youths grabbed the money and ran away. No arrests were made.

The shopkeepers said they didn’t work for criminals but to feed and provide for their families. They said it was time they protected themselves against these bad elements, or else they would be driven out of business.

There wasn’t any other option for them. They wanted a 24-hour police patrol of their shops but the police said they were understaffed and under resourced and had other places to patrol besides shop premises.

So now the businessmen were taking the law into their own hands. They wanted criminals to know they would return fire with fire and would do so until the police were ready to protect them.

The police suggested the stores close so that tempers could cool off. In the meantime, the shop owner was driven away in a police car. The police didn’t handcuff him.

Some said he’d been taken to a police station, others said he was transported to a safe house. No one knew for sure where the shop owner was taken.

Apart from the cops, of course, but they were not telling.

-by Zanozuko Mzamo

To be continued…

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