Read Death Dealing Online

Authors: Ian Patrick

Tags: #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery, #International Mystery & Crime, #Thrillers & Suspense, #Crime, #Thrillers

Death Dealing (6 page)

BOOK: Death Dealing
8.51Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Both men listened to Thabethe’s
commentary and watched as a battered old Ford Cortina crawled down the road,
slowing right down as a ten-year old walked casually across to speak to the
driver. A few words passed between them and the driver handed over a small
envelope before moving further down the road. When the car arrived at a
designated spot, the ten-year old whistled loudly and a second child - the
six-year old - appeared. This little boy exchanged a quick word with the driver
and then whistled - extraordinarily loudly, thought Wakashe and Mgwazeni - a
shrill and piercing sound. The driver then moved on down the road some thirty
or forty metres. Meanwhile the first boy walked back across the road, passing a
second child of about twelve or thirteen years coming in the opposite
At the point at which they passed they high-fived
each other and walked on, the package having been transferred again.
Both these boys continued walking to their respective ends of the street.
Meanwhile another youngster emerged - Wakashe and Mgwazeni estimating him to be
the eighteen or nineteen-year old - and walked over to the driver. He greeted
the man behind the wheel, laughed as if they were cracking a joke together,
gave him a high-five, and as he walked away he left a tiny package in the
driver’s hand. The car drove off. The observers then saw the twelve or thirteen-year
old approach a smart red Honda Ballade parked at the far end of the street and
lean in at the driver’s window.

‘He’s giving the driver the money,’
said Thabethe. ‘The driver of that car owns this business and pays these boys.’

Wakashe and Mgwazeni were both
hugely impressed.

They were also impressed by the
reaction of the local inhabitants they had encountered during the past couple
of hours. It took some time for Thabethe to enquire among local residents and
eventually, after being pointed to various possible sites, he found the young
boys with whom he had worked some three months previously. Thabethe had always
paid his team well, so they greeted him enthusiastically, and they spoke freely
in front of Thabethe’s two friends. Yes, they were active with the deals. No,
they had no access to the source of the drugs other than through players like
him. Yes, there were many who had asked about him, because his rivals had
always been less reliable than he was and he had gained great respect in the
neighbourhood. Yes, they would let the right man know that Skhura Thabethe was
back in town and wanted some supplies.

Wakashe and Mgwazeni had then sat
with Thabethe to watch how the whole business played out on the streets.

After they had watched the scene
play out a few times, the eighteen-year old approached Thabethe. He waited at a
point some thirty metres away. For this part of the conversation, because he
didn’t know Wakashe and Mgwazeni, he was not going to speak in front of the
strangers. Thabethe told Wakashe and Mgwazeni to wait and went over to speak to
the teenager.

After a few minutes Thabethe

‘Let’s go. There’s a guy who is
interested in selling directly to me. If he gives me a good price we can work
with these boys. They know me. They’ll work with me.’

They followed the teenager down to
the end of the street, turned the corner, and in the distance saw a man sitting
on a low wall adjacent to a vacant plot of land. The teenager nodded to
Thabethe and went off in the opposite direction. Wakashe, Mgwazeni and Thabethe
walked together down to the man.



The gang of six
were back in their favourite spot in Albert Park.
Saturday night had been fuelled by noxious fumes and corrosive alcoholic
. They were all feeling the effects. The sweltering heat didn’t

Eish, ou babelas!’
said one, producing
sympathetic chuckles from the others, and they all launched into a discussion
of whose hangover was the worst. That in turn gave rise to arguments about
which alcoholic drinks produced the worst hangovers. That then gave rise to a
discussion of money. More money meant better quality drinks.

‘You heard that one
guy last night, Loku,’ said one of the men. ‘He was saying the people on the
third floor at Victoria Lodge, just down by
they’re going on holiday tomorrow morning early. Rich people. We can hit that
flat tomorrow…’

‘Yes, Loku,’
interjected his companion. ‘Those people they got the money…’

‘No,’ replied Loku,
brusquely cutting through the suggestions of the two men. ‘Tomorrow morning we
hit the house in Glenwood. I told you before. I want to get those bastards in
Those two -
- who go to the private school.
Their sister, too.
That one she was looking at me sideways. I want to teach her a lesson, that
one, and her brothers too. Tomorrow morning, that is the house we are hitting.
Before they go to school. I want to teach those rich bastards something good.’

The others joined
the gang leader in a hubbub of bravura gesticulations and jeers as they talked
about how they were going to teach some rich kids a lesson. The first speaker
was not going to let go too easily, however, of the idea of breaking into the
flat in Esplanade Avenue.

‘We can do
Loku. Is fine. We can
do that one early, like you say. But then we can come down here and do Victoria
Lodge too. Those people they are leaving the flat after breakfast, that guy was
telling us. We can do Glenwood and then we can come straight down here.’

‘Is true, Loku,’
said the man’s companion. ‘That flat there they have big money, and the guy was
telling us he thinks those people they got a gun. He thinks they got another
one pistol, and he thinks because they are going to some fancy place they won’t
take their gun with them. They might leave the gun in the flat. We can get
another pistol,
Loku. I think
that one they got is a Beretta M9...’

Loku’s failure to
respond immediately suggested that he was willing to be persuaded. This encouraged
the others. They saw the sense in what these two were saying. The murmured
comments suggested to Loku that there could be something in this. They needed a
gun. The idea of taking down the Glenwood guys tomorrow and then going straight
on to another job just around the corner down here, had merit.

‘OK,’ he said.
‘Maybe. Maybe we can do the two jobs tomorrow morning. If there’s a gun there,
then we can do that Victoria Lodge, but only after we do Glenwood.’

They all clambered
into the conversation. They sensed potential rewards, and as each person offered
a new possible action, the others spiralled up on top of the suggestion, adding
their own ideas. Excitement grew, and the group became increasingly animated.

‘Let’s go and look
at the flat,’ said Loku, suddenly. ‘Come. We can go and take a look. Then we
can make a plan for tomorrow. We can come back after Glenwood, and we can do
it. Two jobs tomorrow. But we must get some
Before we do these jobs I want more
We must find some supplies, comrades. We got good money from
, so we need more

They laughed and
jeered, with more jokes about their success the previous day with the Indian storekeeper
and his family, followed by their unexpected theft from the German, and got to
their feet, excitedly, to go and scout out the terrain. They cut across the park
into Diakonia Road and made their way down toward Margaret Mncadi Avenue, like
feral cats on the hunt.



South African
Police Service’s Durban Central Station Command nestled between the M12 and the
M4 highways, and on this particular day it was probably the single spot in the
city that was suffering more than any other from the heat wave that straddled
Durban. The flat terrain alongside Stalwart Simelane Street could boast very little
vegetation to mitigate the effects of the blistering heat. The vast expanse of
tarmac and concrete, providing multi-lane highways and vast parking areas to
serve the office complexes all around, served as conductors of the heat. The
few grass verges around had been burnt dry by the sun. The few pedestrians not
seeking shelter under the very few trees available, or in the buildings, all
carried umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun. There was not a wisp of
cloud in the bright blue sky.

In the buildings it
was marginally more bearable. With air conditioners across the city working at
full power, the grid had just failed yet again. In common parlance there had
occurred another electricity
as a result of
Lights had failed, along with air-conditioners. People had cursed. Some had
shrugged their shoulders in mild resignation. All of them perspired as
emergency generators started kicking in.

Mavis Tshabalala
had managed to get her two coffees less than a minute before the power failure
occurred. She waited apprehensively for Navi Pillay, with the two polystyrene
cups placed before her on the table, wondering why she had got hot drinks
instead of icy cold drinks from the vendor outside.

She had not yet
told any of her colleagues about the dissertation she was doing as a component
of her part-time degree. There had been enough teasing from detectives
Koekemoer and Dippenaar already, without her opening up a new avenue for that

But Pillay was
different. She felt she could confide in the detective in a way she was unable
to do with the others. Navi could be trusted to provide valuable insights and
further helpful leads. Most importantly, thought Mavis, Navi would take her seriously.

‘Sorry I’m late,
Mavis,’ Pillay said as she arrived somewhat breathless, and with a towel around
her neck for the perspiration. ‘I’ve just finished my class with the new
recruits. There are always more of them on Sundays, so I usually go over time.
We were doing some judo and some
, and one
of them seems very keen. She wanted me to show her some high kicks. I thought
of you in your own very first class. You also accosted me afterward for the
same reason, remember.’

‘Did you send any
of them to hospital?’

never hurt my students, Mavis
you know that
They just happen to end up, most of the time, on the ground. Like you, in that
first class.’

‘I remember. I
remember so well.’

‘I like to surprise them, that’s
all. So that when the really bad guys surprise them they’ll know how to react. I
see you’ve enrolled for my Tuesday evening class?’

‘Definitely. I would have started
today if it wasn’t for the fact that I had so much to do to settle back in.’

‘But wait a minute. Before anything
else: congratulations! You’re now a full constable. Wonderful.’

‘Thanks, Navi.
But I’m still an intern for a couple of weeks. Promotions
only take place next month.’

‘Who cares,’ said Pillay, high-fiving
‘Constable Tshabalala.
Not just
Constable any longer but
. Sounds great. Next step
you’re going to be a detective.’

‘That’s what I’d like to do. You’re
my role model. Except for the martial arts. I’ll never lift my legs that high.’

‘You just have to keep training,
that’s all. I’m glad you’re coming to the next course. I’ve got some hot stuff
to show you all. It’s good to see you’re coming back to me for more

‘Actually, I’ve really missed your
classes, Navi. It’s been nearly three months since my last one. Just before I
went away I felt I was getting quite strong, you know, and getting better at

‘You were. You definitely were. I
was very impressed with your
in that last
class. It’s going to be good to have you back.’

‘Anyway, thanks
for giving me the time.
Especially on a Sunday.
I got you a coffee. I hope I got it
right after such a long time away. White, no sugar?’

‘Perfect, thanks.
So what’s this all about? I haven’t had a chance
to have a proper chat about your three months in Greytown. How was it up there?’

‘Well, what I wanted to chat about
is connected to what happened there. But the main thing I wanted to discuss is
the research project I have to do for my degree.’

‘Oh? OK, Mavis, I’m all ears.’

As Pillay reached for her coffee, and
used the towel to wipe the perspiration off her face, Mavis shifted a little
uncomfortably in her chair and started.

‘We have to do a research project
for one part of the degree at UNISA, Navi. A dissertation. We’re allowed to
propose our own subject and as long as our supervisor is happy with it we can
go ahead. So I managed to persuade him to let me research the case of one
specific criminal and to weave through my research some of the different
arguments that demonstrate the theories we’ve been learning in tutorials and

‘An actual practising
South African?’

A guy from
Someone in the files, and who was mentioned some time ago
in the newspapers, and…’

‘Won’t you face a problem with
confidentiality, and stuff like that?’

‘Yes, that’s exactly right. I
couldn’t just go ahead and write it all up without sorting out those things,
but my supervisor came up with a solution, and introduced me to a new word,


‘Yes. My criminal - and a lot of the
stuff he did and where he did it and when - is going to be anonymised.’

‘Anonymised? Old Dipps is going to
have a field day with a word like that.’

‘Yes. I know. That’s why I’ve kept
it secret from everyone. Except you.’

‘Don’t worry, Mavis. You can trust
me. I’ll keep it all to myself. I know how those guys can tease with things
like this. But presumably there’ll be a record somewhere of who this anonymised
guy is? I assume you can’t just invent the guy?’

‘That’s right. Students can do this
kind of thing, where names and actual events are protected, but only on
condition the supervisor is given a reference spreadsheet identifying all the
real facts and people behind the anonymised information. I suppose that’s to
prevent students just making things up. So, anyway, on that basis my project
was approved.’

So, you’ve found a
bad guy and you’re writing up a case history on him. How does that tie in with
the rest of your degree? I thought you were into science?’

‘Well, I am. A big focus in this
project is on DNA analysis and finger-marks and fingerprints, and the science
around that. But there’s a big emphasis on context and causes and management of
crime cases, and related other information. So there’s a lot of other stuff
ranging from sociology to history, too. Part of the multi-disciplinary stuff they
want us to do.’

‘I wish I’d had the chance to do
something real like that at university. Instead, I became an expert on one -
only one - of the battles Napoleon fought in Italy. Can you believe it? Navi
Pillay, a Tamil from Durban, being an expert on the battle of Rivoli. Sounds
like pasta, doesn’t it? Anyway, you said your project is also connected to your
time in Greytown. Tell me more.’

‘Well, OK, you remember I told you
when I went up there I was supposed to be a personal assistant to one of the
senior people in the station? It’s part of what Captain Nyawula was trying to
do: get secondment opportunities and experiences for his student interns in
different centres in the province. So when he offered it to me I thought it was
a good opportunity.’

‘Well, we missed you. Three months
is a long time. KoeksnDips went into withdrawal, not having you to tease. They
know if they try to tease me I’ll just beat them up.’

‘Thanks, Navi.
I enjoyed it, but I’m really glad to be back.’

‘So tell me more.’

‘OK. So, it ended up as a ten-week
secondment as personal assistant to the commander of the Family Violence, Child
Protection and Sexual Offences Unit up there.’

‘You must have seen some bad stuff.’

‘Some terrible stuff.
Terrible. But they do really good work in
Greytown. Anyway, the pseudonym my supervisor and I have just chosen for my
selected criminal is
. There
were many reasons for selecting this man to focus on. Before I decided on him
as the subject for the dissertation I was looking at lots of files on some of
KwaZulu-Natal’s worst criminals. There were so many I could have chosen. But
then I started thinking. I had done such a lot of work on this one guy when I
was up in Greytown, I thought, why not use all of that work that I’ve already
done and just plug it into my dissertation? Once I told my supervisor about the
work I’d done on this one guy, he agreed immediately, and so the man I call
Thando is now in my mind every day again as I work on the dissertation. I
thought I’d have nothing to do with the real man once I left Greytown, but now
he’s back in my head and I’m thinking about him all the time.’

BOOK: Death Dealing
8.51Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
More than Just Sex by Ali Campbell
Maris by Hill, Grace Livingston;
In the Garden of Rot by Sara Green
My Lord's Lady by Sherrill Bodine
Shifters (Shifters series Book 1) by Douglas Pershing, Angelia Pershing
Magnus Merriman by Eric Linklater
Blade Kin by David Farland
It's Like This, Cat by Emily Cheney Neville