Authors: Ian Patrick
Tags: #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery, #International Mystery & Crime, #Thrillers & Suspense, #Crime, #Thrillers
The detectives followed her out of
the house and they gathered together in a semi-circle facing her on the front
lawn as she addressed them.
and Wakashe approached the cash dispenser more in hope than in confidence. They
tried all of the
. All of them had been
cancelled. They beat a hasty retreat in case there were alarm systems of which
they were unaware. Thabethe tossed the remaining wallet into the nearest refuse
bin and they hailed a taxi to put as much distance as possible between them and
The turning off of
such an easy source of cash was not too much of a concern for Thabethe. They
had pulled just under ten thousand rands from the various bank accounts of the
two prison guards, and the trade in
was now rolling out better than they might have hoped. The very profitable sale
to those six youths the day before had prompted among the three friends some
optimism about the future of their business. Thabethe thought back on how he
had grown the business a few months ago, before
he was taken
down by the interfering Detective Ryder
. He was not going to let that
happen again. He was going to be very careful this time.
To Wakashe it
seemed that Thabethe was so well known that the suppliers were almost begging
him to take their product. This was a man to stick with, he thought. For a long
time Wakashe had preferred to work alone, but he felt comfortable with these
two new acquaintances.
Ryder and Pillay remained to take
care of the Glenwood murder scene. Koekemoer and Dippenaar had left the scene
much earlier in response to a call from Piet Cronje: two detectives were needed
at a new crime scene. A break-in and burglary on the Esplanade, he told them.
The ambulance eventually departed
with the daughter, the medics leaving the mother with a more optimistic
prognosis for the teenager than most surgeons might have provided. The driver
of the ambulance, on the other hand, held out no hope whatsoever. He had seen
cases like this and as far as he was concerned the girl would probably be dead
before they got to the hospital. But he kept his view to himself while his
colleagues were busy lying to the mother.
The forensics team were still at it,
cameras clicking and laptops humming and different coloured plastic markers
still being placed throughout the house. Nadine Salm was patrolling, issuing
instructions, and occasionally speaking into a hand-held recording device. She
had taken a moment to come over to Ryder and Pillay and tell them that her team
had finished their work in the living room, where the parents were, and that
they could now use that room for any interviews they wanted to conduct with the
parents, as long as they remained outside the taped area.
The Chaplain remained with the
parents until after the bodies of the two boys had been taken away. He had
warned them about what to expect, and had explained that they shouldn’t read
anything into the apparent disinterest of the mortuary men as they moved the
bodies. They were doing this kind of thing all day, every day, he told them,
and it was their way of dealing with the difficulty of the job. He wasn’t sure
his words provided any comfort at all. He had never himself got used to the
apparent cold disregard as mortuary workers carried bodies to their van,
conversing about everything under the sun rather than the bodies they were
handling, as if they were carrying lumps of wood rather than once-living
The Chaplain’s words provided no
comfort. The mother ignored his request that she should turn her back on the
stretcher-bearers and face him instead, as they carried out her dead sons. She
resolutely refused to do so, and fell to her knees, facing the bodies as they passed
directly in front of her. The Chaplain hung his head and gritted his teeth as
he tried to shut out the resultant unbearable howl of anguish and utter
The father remained inscrutable,
staring ahead into nothingness.
The Chaplain told Ryder he had done
all he could for the moment. He had advised the parents on what to expect next
regarding the police procedures and the other activities in the house, the
coming funeral options, and the need for formal identification, in due course,
of the bodies. He wasn’t sure that he had reached through to the father. After
examination by forensics, the
man’s wound had been cleaned by
and his head had been bandaged, and the original diagnosis of
a fracture had been reversed. But he had remained like a zombie throughout, the
Chaplain said. The mother had begun to settle down, he whispered. It was going
to be a struggle for both of them, but he thought it would be OK now for the
detectives to put a few questions to the mother.
Ryder and Pillay thanked him, and he
left. To go across town to a similar case, he told them. The two detectives
went over to talk to the mother.
The two parents sat in the living
room staring at nothing in particular. The father
as he had been when they had first seen him a couple of hours earlier. The
mother stood as the detectives entered.
Detective Pillay?’ she said in a tremulous voice,
as they approached her. ‘You can talk to me. The Chaplain told me what to
expect from you. You can talk to me now. Not my husband. As you can see...’
She covered her face with both
hands, and the tears came fast.
Ryder and Pillay prepared themselves
for what they saw was going to be a difficult session, but she recovered almost
‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Detective
Ryder. I can’t...’
‘That’s OK,’ said Ryder. ‘OK.
Really. Don’t worry. There’s no pressure. If you would rather...’
‘No. No. I’m OK. We can talk. I want
to talk… I want to… I want to help you get these...’
The detectives were taken by
surprise as she suddenly stepped forward and grabbed Ryder by the lapels of his
brown leather jacket, twisting them in her hands as she blurted out her words.
‘You must catch these… these things,
Detective Ryder. Please. You must catch them.
These evil men.
They’ve killed us. They’ve destroyed this family. They’re animals. You must...’
The tears spurted from her eyes, and
the anguished howling began again. Pillay quickly stepped in and put her arms
around the woman as she buried her head into Ryder’s chest, the agonised wail
being swallowed up into a choke. Ryder and Pillay both stood, uncomfortably,
with their arms around her.
Suddenly her husband stood up. The
movement was sudden and noisy, as he knocked over the small table next to the
sofa. It was enough to make his wife step back from the detectives, and she
turned to him as he stepped forward to address Ryder.
‘You have children, Detective?’ he
I do, sir. I have two sons. Teenagers. Boys.’
Ryder knew that this was not the
best possible response under the circumstances, but he could think of no other.
‘Take them away, Detective,’ the man
said, pointing his finger right into Ryder’s face, an inch from his nose. ‘Take
them away, out of this city. Out of this country. Take them out of this jungle.
This is no place for children.’
His wife tried desperately to calm
him down. She held on to his right arm in an attempt to break the hostility of
the gesture, and when that failed, as he held his arm rigid, she threw her arms
around her husband and started the howling again. That worked, and they both
melted into sobs in each other’s arms. It was as if a dam wall had cracked
open, and the man wept freely, though quietly.
Ryder and Pillay allowed them to let
it out and after a few seconds the man managed to prise himself away from his
wife, and addressed the two detectives in a subdued voice.
‘I’m sorry. Forgive me. I’m
Ryder and Pillay murmured their
reassurances together, and guided the two of them back to the sofa and got them
seated together, holding on to one another. Then the detectives drew up chairs
for themselves and sat down to face them.
It was one of the most difficult
sessions Ryder and Pillay had ever experienced in post-trauma interviews. But
after nearly an hour of gentle enquiry and coaxing and checking and
double-checking, they derived from the couple a picture of what had taken
place. This was at the expense of a growing sense of the horror of what had
transpired, as the couple relived each stage of their traumatic experience.
As they were drawing to a close, two
pieces of news arrived that provided, if not comfort, at least some respite
from the trauma. First came the news, via one of the constables sent in by
the doctors were now confident the
daughter would pull through. This led to cascades of tears from the parents.
And some from Pillay too, Ryder noticed. And some from Ryder too, Pillay
Second came the news, a few minutes
later from the same
the woman’s sister
and her husband were outside on the driveway. They had come from Pietermaritzburg
to fetch the couple and take them home with them.
This news helped all four of them,
the detectives included, and they all stood up to make for the front door.
Ryder and Pillay were relieved that the couple would have someone to look after
them. Ryder took the woman’s hand in both of his as he spoke to her.
‘Thank you for speaking to us, Mrs.
‘My name is Hlengiwe Khuzwayo,’ the
mother said, wiping her tears away with a small handkerchief clutched in her
free hand. ‘My husband’s name is Kwanele.’
‘Thank you, Mrs Khuzwayo...’ Ryder
‘Hlengiwe. OK. Thank you, Hlengiwe.
Thank you, too, Kwanele. My name is Jeremy.’
‘And please call me Navi. Navi
The Khuzwayos each in turn shook
Pillay’s hand, too, and then entwined their arms around each other, as Ryder
‘Thank you, both,
for speaking to us.
We know it
hasn’t been easy. Navi and I won’t rest, we can assure you, until we get these
The man broke free from his wife
again, and grabbed the lapels of Ryder’s jacket. He spoke nose to nose with the
detective, with the tears coming fast and running down his cheeks.
‘Please, Detective Ryder. Please
don’t rest. I beg you. Don’t stop. Get these men. Get these evil… These men
have to be dealt with…’
It seemed to all four of them that
there was not much to add. So they all nodded, as if this was some secret pact
among the four of them. This would happen. The deal was sealed. The four of
them had agreed. These men would be caught. They would be dealt the appropriate
Ryder and Pillay watched from the
front door as Hlengiwe Khuzwayo’s sister and brother-in-law hugged the two
damaged parents and all four of them burst into tears before getting into the
car and driving away from the hell that had once been a family home.
Dippenaar and Koekemoer questioned
more than a dozen local residents on Esplanade Avenue and in the vicinity of
Victoria Lodge. They had a quick look at the break-in scene at the Lodge and
set things in motion for a case file to be opened and for the residents to make
an insurance claim when they returned from holiday.
out of the ordinary.
A burglary involving the loss of about eight or
nine thousand rands worth of goods, which the owner would doubtless upscale, in
her report, to about thirty thousand rands so that the insurance company would
get a Loss Adjustor to bring it down again to eight or nine thousand. All
square, Dippenaar remarked. Everyone wins.
Following the inspection of the
burglary, they went walkabout. They learned from the locals that break-ins were
frequent in the neighbourhood, and insurance claims were the exception rather
than the rule, because most of the locals couldn’t afford insurance. They had
found it cheaper to band together as a vigilante group and beat the hell out of
any kids caught stealing. This hadn’t always worked as they had hoped. In one
instance the unsolved murder of one of the neighbours had prompted rumours that
a local gang had decided to send a strong signal to would-be vigilantes.
The two detectives
felt themselves spiralling downward into the mire of negativity exuded by all
the locals they questioned. Then along came the day-shift security guard at
Victoria Lodge. An ageless man, with more wrinkles on his face, Koekemoer later
said to his partner, than Dippenaar’s scrotum. The detectives estimated him to
be about eighty years old, his grizzled grey hair looking almost arctic white
against his ebony skin. He immediately lifted the detectives out of their
I heard from the other guard that you were coming
on duty at midday today. How are you, my friend?’