Authors: Ian Patrick
Tags: #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery, #International Mystery & Crime, #Thrillers & Suspense, #Crime, #Thrillers
Loku and his five
companions ducked into an alleyway off Moore Road in Glenwood. Although the
re-naming of the streets in recent years now sign-posted it as
Che Guevara Road, through force of habit the
men continued to refer to it as Moore Road. They avoided the street corner, and
chose an area in the middle of the alleyway behind a row of
residential-property garages and workshops to stop and open the bag containing
the proceeds of their heist.
The working women of the streets were
already open for business on the main corners, and flashy cars were patrolling
the area, the male drivers trying to avoid the attention of prying eyes while
searching for the thrill of seeing an under-dressed woman, or in some cases searching
for something more experiential than mere voyeurism. Loku and his gang felt
safer in the alleyways. If any cops came looking from one end, they would have
at least one route to escape. The cops would probably in any case be more interested
in grabbing the rich men in cars. Some of those guys, Loku said, would pay big
bribes to cops to avoid having their names in the newspapers as a consequence
of being caught with a prostitute in their car.
The men crowded around the bag they had used
for the proceeds stolen from the Indian merchant in Umbilo Road. They laughed
loudly and jeered at the stupidity of the shopkeeper. He had provided no
resistance at all when the men had stormed into the shop. The man’s wife and
daughter had cowered in the corner while, held at knifepoint, he had opened the
cash register and the men had swept its entire contents into the bag that Loku
now held in his grasp, and they had run away from the shop. The whole operation
had taken less than a minute. As they all now counted the amount of cash they
had got away with, there were ecstatic laughs and exclamations. They had
thought that the robbery might have yielded far inferior returns. There were
excited reactions from all of them as they counted the amount and shared it out
‘OK guys,’ said
Loku, ‘let’s go.’
?’ one of his companions asked. ‘You
looking not so happy?’
Loku mumbled a
reply that indicated he was sick and tired of picking up a few rands and cents
here and there. This job had yielded good results.
was much more potential out there.
He needed some of that big money that
was available out there. He needed a proper weapon, too. He needed enough money
to buy a decent gun.
They all chipped in
a few words of agreement. They had lost two pistols more than a month
previously, and they had relied since then on knives and sharpened sticks and
clubs. Those weapons were not enough to make proper money, they agreed. It was
time to steal some guns or to get some big money so that they could buy
Just then there was
a movement at the end of the alley. A man in a white Mercedes Benz C-Class
Coupe had turned from the road into the alley and had stopped to wait for one
of the women to come around the corner and up to his window to discuss her terms
of business. He kept his eyes on the six suspicious-looking men some fifty
metres down the alley, but as soon as the woman approached his window he lost
concentration and diverted his attention to her breasts, which were almost
fully exposed by the very low-cut blouse. As she leaned down to talk to him the
exposure of flesh increased and the driver had his entire focus upon her.
Loku moved swiftly
as he took it all in at a glance. His five friends followed immediately behind
him. Within a few seconds he had covered the distance, ripped open the
passenger door and sat down next to the driver. As the five others ran up to
the car the woman screamed and ran. The driver, shocked into awareness, tried
to thrust down on the accelerator, but the first thing Loku did as he got into
the car was reach across and
The driver was
terrified. Three of the men stood in front of the car, jeering and laughing.
The remaining two stood at the driver’s window, leering in at the man as Loku
spoke, this time in English.
looking to buy some black meat?
You think this is a butcher-shop?’
‘What? No. No, you
make a mistake. I was just asking her for directions. I got lost, and I was…’
The man spoke
English in a thick German accent, which prompted cackles of laughter from the
two men at his window. He was pale, and obese, and perspiring. He was trembling
in fear. He stared, fascinated and terrified, at the matchstick doing its
extraordinary dance across Loku’s lips and teeth and tongue.
‘No. No. You don’t
tell me,’ Loku continued. ‘I know you, white man. You don’t like white meat?
You don’t like your own wife? You want to come here and buy our women? You like
the black women? You come to hunt in Africa for a black woman? All the
they come here to do that. You
sit still, now,
. Nice car,
laughed and jeered, enjoying the
appellation and sharing among each other some of the current jokes on the
subject, while Loku continued.
Mr Mercedes Benz?
You on holiday?
Or you work here in Durban?’
‘No. No, I… no, I
work in Johannesburg. I came down here for a conference. This is not my car.
Please… the car it belongs to the company that…’
We not taking
Not this time. This car, she is too smart,
If we are taking this car, then the
they are finding us
We not doing that one.
you can make us a reward,
not telling your wife what you are doing here with the black
girl. We are not telling the
police what you are doing here in this place. This place is not the nice place
for a big fat white businessman,
So then you are giving me the reward for not talking. You are giving me one
thousand rand and we are not telling your wife, Mr German Mercedes Benz man.’
No, I can’t… well, I…’
Loku watched him
carefully as the five others giggled and whispered to one another. They could
see the visitor going through the changes. His first thought was denial. Then he
thought he might bargain the men down in price. Then he began to think that under
the circumstances one thousand rands might constitute a very reasonable price
to escape from the potential damage any publicity might wreak upon him, his
company and his family. He reached into the breast pocket of his jacket as he
‘OK. OK, my friend.
OK. I’ll give you one thousand rands, and we can all just go away and…’
As his hand came
out Loku snatched the wallet from his grasp, grabbed the man behind the neck,
and smashed his face into the steering wheel. Then he ripped open the door and
ran, closely followed by the five members of his gang. They ran all the way
down the alley to the far end, laughing and giggling all the way. Within
minutes they were turning right and heading up toward Umbilo Road, from where
they could melt into the Saturday afternoon traffic.
re-appeared at the German’s window. His face was bloody but nothing was broken.
Through his frustration and pain and humiliation he was astonished at her
warmth and genuine concern for his welfare as she spoke.
! I’m very sorry. Those are bad men.
I’m very sorry for you, darling. You must come back another time. The girls
here we are good. We don’t do these things. Those men, they are bad ones. The
girls, we are not like them. Here, mister, here. Take this.’
She handed him a
toilet roll. He was confused for a moment before he realised that she was
trying to be of assistance. The blood was dripping off his nose. He snatched
the paper, tore off a length, and started mopping up the blood with it. As he
did so she commiserated further.
‘I saw them. They
were stealing your money.
very sorry, honey.’
She looked down the
alley in the direction the men had taken. She was about to continue, when she
‘Wait. Wait. Look.
I think they were…’
She started walking
briskly down the alley, as fast as her high heels would allow. Then she paused
a moment and beckoned for the German to follow her in his car. She pointed at
something further down the alley, some thirty paces away. He suddenly realised
what she meant. The men had taken the cash from his wallet and flung it down as
they made their escape. She trotted up to it, picked it up, turned around and
waved at him. She intended him to drive down to her, but he was still too
confused to embark upon any action. His first thought was that she might intend
to run off with the wallet, but then it quickly became clear to him that she had
no such intention. She walked back toward him as he sat in the Mercedes, watching
her and dabbing at the cut on the bridge of his nose. She was tottering
ungainly on shoes that were entirely inappropriate for walking in an alley
covered in potholes and undulations and broken sections of tarmac and concrete.
Once again he looked at her breasts as she approached while trying to remain
balanced on her footwear. But now he did not look at her with any feelings of
lasciviousness. Instead, he just hoped for her sake and his that her flimsy
clothing would stay in place.
She leaned in at
‘I think maybe they
took only the money. The cards they are there. But maybe you must check,
you,’ he said, as he checked through the expensive leather wallet. ‘It’s all
The credit cards.
The…thank you so much.
He realised at a
glance that nothing had been removed except the cash, which had amounted to about
five thousand rands.
‘Shame,’ she said.
‘They are bad men.
How much money did they
He wasn’t going to
tell her the truth. He felt ashamed. Just before the men had attacked he had
agreed with her a price of two hundred rands. She had asked for three hundred,
but he had said that
that was too high
he couldn’t afford it
. She had then agreed to two hundred.
‘They took all the
money. I had five hundred, I think. I told you two hundred, you see, I said two
hundred because I need to buy petrol to get home… I’m sorry. I’m very sorry. I
don’t have…Thank you for your help. Here, let me give you…’
He turned to pick
up a new unopened bottle of whisky that lay on the floor just behind the
passenger’s seat, but she stopped him.
‘No. No. You
mustn’t worry, sir. Don’t worry. You must go home now. You must get your wife
to fix up your nose. You must tell her that…’
you for your help.
I must give you something. What can I…’
mustn’t worry. You must go now. Shame.
Me, I’m being sorry for you. You are a
nice man. Those men they are bad men. You must tell your wife that some men
they stopped you at the stop-street and they hit you…’
She was leaning in
at the window, her breasts perilously close to falling out. He couldn’t bring
himself to look at them. Then he started weeping.
, shame, my darling.
I’m very sorry. Please, now, you
must go home to your wife,
must take the aspirin,
be careful, you see?’
you. Yes. Thank you. You are very…’
you want to come here again you come to look for me here on this corner right
This is my corner. If you
want to see me then you just ask the other girls,
You say to them you
want to see Lorraine, and then they will tell you what time to come back. You
ask for Lorraine. Next time you come we can be careful,
No bad men. Only good girls, like me. Me, I can be nice to you.’
He drove away, and
glanced up at her in the rear-view mirror. She was waving at the departing
vehicle, and she blew him a kiss. He was still weeping when he reached the end
of the alley, where he stopped and had one final look in the mirror before
turning left to go down into the city.
She had turned and was
tottering away on her stilts, very slowly, back to her post where she would
stand watch at the corner on Che Guevara Road.
Wakashe and Mgwazeni looked on in
amazement as Thabethe explained the procedure. The three of them watched at a
distance, sitting on the kerb and drinking beer, as Thabethe pointed out the
key players. Four young boys, the oldest being eighteen or nineteen and the
youngest probably no more than six years old, were all equally slick at what
they did in their respective roles.