Thursday. It is my third week back in the saddle after a five-week lay-off.
My body and brain had taken something of a pounding over the past 18 months, so a protracted winding-in-my-neck session was in order.
I’m a bit slow, but well refreshed after a sober month and a total break from the world of cellphones, laptops and tablets. No Freakbook or Twitter. No deadlines. Lovely, but bills need to be paid and now it is back to the real world.
It has been a weird week. Tuesday was spent searching – with no joy – for the family of a school principal who died from stress-related illness after his job was allegedly sold to somebody else.
Freedom Day had a bizarre feel to it, with more cops than protesters turning out for the #ZumaMustFall march in Durban. There were so few marchers that their police escort was quickly whittled down to a water cannon and a single police van.
They should have stayed in bed or gone to the beach. Waited and popped in at the national day of prayer led by the president himself at Kings Park Stadium to ask for divine intervention. Okay, that got cancelled, but anything would be better than the embarrassing show on Wednesday.
Back to Thursday.
This Thursday is special, but in a sad way: it is Tebza’s (photographer Tebogo Letsie) last gig in the kingdom ahead of a move to the big city. One last quick trip to Umzumbe, and Tebza hits the road inland. Time is tight.
We land in Umzumbe, heading for KwaMhlongo, where the family allegedly lives. It is all sugar cane and potholes, taxis and tractors.
District roads with a completely illogical numbering system that places D2103 next to D932. No cellphone signal, so we cannot call anybody for directions.
Somehow we get to KwaMhlongo. Tebza is looking nervous; he has good reason. It turns out the family lives at KwaHlongwa.
We head back the way we came. We eventually find KwaHlongwa. The family’s home overlooks the district road from a serious height. An elderly lady shouts to attract our attention. There’s one catch: there is no direct road.
We start hitting the tracks leading up the hillside. On the fourth try, we come right, get the job done and head back to Durban.
Tebza hits the road to Jozi somewhat later than planned.
On Friday morning, my phone rings. Murphy’s law kicks in. It’s the dead man’s mother; she’s got cold feet. Something has gone down overnight.
She is suddenly terrified of being quoted and having her picture in the paper. It is going to be a long, long Friday.