BOOK EXTRACT | Ghetto Ninja - The Junior Khanye Story

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Ghetto Ninja tells the story of soccer play Junior Khanye.
Ghetto Ninja tells the story of soccer play Junior Khanye.
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We’ve Come Here to Shoot You – inganono ekhanda

Early on in the 2004/05 season, Kaizer Chiefs play a league fixture against Ajax Cape Town. Junior is in the starting line-up and is the youngest player in the squad. The game ends in a 2–2 draw. Junior is sublime on the day, showing that fiery Daveyton flair, yet also passing the ball with the seasoned touch of a veteran.

Kaizer Chiefs fans around the country rejoice at the performance – it seems as if Junior Khanye, despite the chaos off the field, can still produce on game day. There is a general feeling in newspaper columns, in TV studios, and on street corners that this is going to be his season. This season Junior will cement his place in the hearts of South African football lovers.

After the game, Junior is in a celebratory mood. He calls up Fikile and Willie, his two most dangerous friends, and within half an hour they are waiting in a Caravella outside Junior’s place; ready to start the night. Junior climbs in, the music volume climbs higher, and Fikile points the van towards Vosloorus, a massive township to the South of Boksburg. There is a well-known spot in Vosloorus called Nanny Nice.

It is one of those spots that attracts all kinds of drinkers: some of them famous, some of them infamous, many of them dangerous, and all of them boozed. When the Caravella pulls up outside Nanny Nice, Junior can immediately feel the groove. From the outside the party is heaving. The bass is thumping so loud that the drinks on the tables outside shake from its vibration. A powerful strobe light showers the club with piercing flashes of black, white, black, white. Junior finds himself on the dance floor and then he finds himself standing behind a woman much taller than himself. He pays her little attention – for now, he just wants to dance. The woman dances rhythmically, making circles on the dancefloor and drawing attention to her hips. Then she recognises Junior and screams his name as she grabs onto him.

Junior is used to adoration from people who see him out in public, but there is something special about this woman in front of him. In his eyes she is the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. She introduces herself as Nomsa. She tells Junior she is his biggest fan and asks him to leave the club with her. ‘I can’t do that, sister,’ he says. ‘I have just arrived, I am with my friends, we have not even got a drink yet.’

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Nomsa looks around in astonishment, not used to being served any form of rejection. ‘Junior, I don’t think you understand. When I want something, I get that thing. There are no other options.’

Junior laughs at her audacity, then simply waves her away and turns to dance in the other direction. Nomsa stares at his back for a moment before wrapping her fingers around his shoulder and turning him around to face her again. ‘Listen Junior,’ she hisses. ‘I don’t want to make a scene. I’m gonna give you two options here – either, you leave this club with me right now, or I start screaming and telling people that you tried to rape me. Think for a moment about what that will do for your Kaizer Chiefs career.’

Without waiting for an answer, Nomsa turns and begins walking out of the club. Junior looks around for a moment. Fikile and Willie are watching him. Junior begins following Nomsa out of the club. Fikile and Willie follow him outside, just to make sure he is safe. When they exit the club, they find Nomsa standing and arguing with another woman, her sister. Nomsa’s sister is desperately pleading with her about something. Noticing Junior and his friends standing nearby watching, Nomsa’s sister turns to Junior and begins pleading with him. ‘Junior, don’t do this. Don’t go with my sister. Her boyfriend is dangerous, really dangerous. He’ll shoot you dead if he finds you talking to Nomsa. I’ve seen this happen before. Please Junior, in my family we are all Amakhosi supporters, we love you so much, we don’t want to see you hurt. You should walk away from this now.’

Fikile and Willie listen in on the conversation and begin chuckling when Nomsa’s sister describes the danger Junior could be in. Fikile steps into the conversation: ‘Trust me, my sister, ain’t nothing going to happen to Junior ever. Who is this boyfriend? Call him now, tell him to come here, we will kill him before he even gets out of his car. Trust me, nobody is going to lay a finger on Junior Khanye.’

The sister throws her hands up in the air and heads back into the club.

Junior joins Fikile and Willie in laughing off her threats. Junior allows Nomsa to grab his hand and lead him to a quiet alleyway at the back of the club. Standing up, they have sex in the narrow path while the bass from the club reverberates through the wall they lean against. When they finish, Junior tries to make his way back into the club but Nomsa prevents him from doing so: ‘You’re not going back in there.’

‘Baby what do you want from me? You have had me, now let me go back and join my friends.’

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‘No Junior, I don’t want you talking to other girls in there. I want you to be mine and only mine tonight. You’re staying with me.’

Junior listens to Nomsa, and they leave for Vosloorus together in the Caravella. The following day, Junior drops Nomsa back off at her house and he returns to his place. He is exhausted from the night before and spends the day drifting in and out of sleep. At midday, Junior wakes up from his nap with a sense of foreboding. The faint sound of a diesel engine looping around his area makes him sit up.

He goes to his window and moves the curtain to look outside. The street outside appears to be quiet at first. He moves to close the curtain but the sound of a diesel engine makes him stop. Suddenly he sees it. The blue bumper of a slick BMW lurks around the corner. The car moves steadily down the street, following the corner that leads past the Khanye house. The BMW slows down briefly in front of the house, but it does not stop.

The black rims keep rolling on down the street and the driver takes his next right. Junior closes the curtain and moves away from the window towards the kettle and a cup of tea. Once the water has boiled and the sugar has been stirred in, he takes his cup and makes his way back to the lounge. Before he can take a sip, his eye catches something and his heart skips a beat.

The BMW is no longer slowly driving through the hood. It sits stationary on the curbside in front of Junior’s house. Junior is annoyed by the car’s presence. He moves outside with his tea mug in hand. He only walks so far as the garages without the roller doors that look out onto the street. He lifts his hand to shield his eyes from the sun. Inside the BMW he can see at least four men, looking straight back at him. ‘Hey man, what do you want?’ he shouts. 'It’s early, don’t come here making noise by my place.’

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