Township Tsotsi 2/4

By Drum Digital
06 August 2014

Vusi didn’t think of himself as a criminal, not really . . .

The ladies were fumbling in their handbags. Now was the time to do it. He approached the heavier of the two, moving swiftly and ‘‘accidentally’’ bumped into her. ‘‘Hawu, sorry Ma.’’ At the same time he grabbed her handbag, yanking it off her plump arm before hurtling off into the maze of dusty township lanes.

The woman wailed in distress. But her companion took off after Vusi’s fast disappearing form with amazing agility and speed. ‘‘Come back, you tsotsi!,’’ she screamed at his flying figure. Vusi ran even faster. He didn’t want to be caught by this mad woman. When these females get angry, you’d better watch out, he told himself.

Vusi ran into a short dark path and hid behind a thick hedge. He remained there for quite a while. He sat in the semi-darkness, thinking: ‘‘This is not right. Even though I’m poor and hungry and my family need food and clothing, I can’t do this any more.’’ He had caught a glimpse of the woman’s face as he snatched her bag. Her face was rigid with shock and her eyes wide with fright. He had to go back and stop this never-ending circle of crime he was in.

Maybe if he gave the bag back his luck would turn. But even if it didn’t, he wanted to be able to close his eyes at night and sleep like a baby. He was tired of thinking about all those helpless people he’d robbed. Just in case they recognised his clothing, he took off his jacket and, after some hesitation, his shoes, and left them well hidden under the hedge. He made his way back to the taxi rank. Maybe they were still there.

They were. Bongani stood, his head down, listening to their sorry story. Vusi suddenly felt very angry. Angry at himself for being so weak and angry at Bongani for helping him to be a criminal. But whatever had happened to make him steal and rob, it was up to him to become a better person. Nobody else was going to do it for him.

As he reached the two women, he said, ‘‘Does this belong to one of you?’’ The larger of the woman looked at him suspiciously then peered into the bag. ‘‘Yes, it’s mine. Who are you? And where did you find it? How did you know where to find me?’’ She looked even harder at him. ‘‘Are you the man who took it?’’ But Vusi knew it was almost impossible for the woman to identify him. Especially as he’d pulled the woolen balaclava right down over his face at the time of the robbery. ‘‘I just took a chance, mama. It was lying in the street.

I thought, oh, the taxi has just come. Maybe it belongs to somebody there.’’

To be continued...

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