Two dead bodies lie on the bank of Mpofana’s river known as Mvumase. The first one is unrecognizable due to severe facial injuries. But the person is wearing the green Mthembuuniform he must be one of the farm workers. Next to him lies the head of the Mthembus; Madoda Oscar Mthembu. They were both attacked by enemies while filling the watertruck in the river. The rivalry between the Mthembus and Ngwanes has been going on for years. One of the main issues is the road that Madoda closed in order to start his farm.
The Ngwanes reside on the other side of the river and have to use the long road that goes behind the mountain. It is 20 minutes longer and not in very good condition. There are rocks all over the mechanic never goes to bed on an empty stomach as their vehicles are always breaking down.
The community leaders tried to intervene on the matter but Madoda was a man of people he won all cases placed against him. He generously contributed to the community development and constantly won people's heart. Over the years he has hired hundreds of Mpofana youth and created higher education funding schemes that produce graduates every year.
It's not jealousy. The Ngwane people have watched the richer getting respect more than the poorer. Slowly the community leaders have shut down the voices of the poor. Mpofana has been divided into two classes; the first and the second class. If you belong to the second class your voice always fall on deaf ears. You follow the lead and dance to the tune of the rich. Eventually they have reached the breaking point. Mazwakhe the first son of the Ngwanes armed his brothers and cousins and they made the first strike.
The first person to arrive at the scene is Mthembu's second son Ngcwethi. He doesn't even park properly he jumps off the van and runs towards the river. The phone is ringing inside his pocket. His old brother Busikhaya wants to know what happened. Why did he take off so speedily? Ngcwethi has a gift most of the times he foresee things before they happen. Something must've been terrible wrong for him to just leave the meeting like that.
He sees his father lying on the sand with blood covering his face and loses it.
“Ndaba what happened to you? Who did this to you?” he asks his father who'll never respond or look at him again. The world has crushed before his eyes. Mthembu was a pillar of the family. He thinks of his ill-mother her fragile heart won't be able to handle this. She just got discharged from the hospital a few weeks back after her blood pressure skyrocketed. “Ngcwethi what happened?” -the voice comes behind him. It is Busikhaya when his brother didn't answer the phone he hopped inside the truck and drove to the same direction. His father's dead body meets his eyes before Ngcwethi can say anything.
“No no no….Ndaba!” He goes straight to his father but Ngcwethi blocks his way.
“We have to wait for the police” -Ngcwethi.
This infuriates Busikhaya even more.
“I want to know who killed my father and I want to know now!” He blows up. His gun is already swinging around his hand like the enemy is going to hand himself over.
“We will find out and they'll pay for this” Ngcwethi says pushing Busikhaya away from the dead bodies. He is angry too but he knows the police rules and doesn't want to interfere with the evidence they may need.
News travel fast in the village. A train of people follow behind two police vans. Sadness is written in everyone's eyes. Some have lost a brother some have lost a boss and some have lost a role model.
“Do you know anyone who could've done this?” the sergeant asks.
“Is that a real question?” -Busikhaya says with his forehead furrowed. In his mind another police van should be on its way to arrest the Ngwanes. Everyone knows that they're the only people who are capable of killing his father.
Ngcwethi clears his throat he’s always by Busikhaya’s side to save moments like this.
“We cannot point any fingers at this stage. We will let you do your investigation and proceed with the funeral arrangements. Then after the funeral we will demand answers.” He has a calm face his voice is natural scratchy and always low-pitched. There's something in the way he says they will demand answers like he is giving the police a deadline.
“We will find whoever did this and bring them to justice. Our condolences are with both families” says the sergeant. There's only one way to get justice in the country where prisons are sub-hotels and that is to take matters to your own hands. “Ndaba won't go down to the grave alone!” Busikhaya swears. He doesn't care about the police’s presence. They pretend to have not heard him and continue jotting down on their notepads.
The farm workers put their tools down in
mourning and return home with bleeding hearts. The Dladla family come to
collect Sfiso’s clothes the farmworker who died along Mthembu. There are just
no words appropriate to comfort them. They lost their only son. The hand that
“With all due respect Mam' Dladla we'd like to cover all the funeral expenses. Sfiso has worked for this family for years we share the same pain as you.” -Ngcwethi.
The weeping mother nods her head and holds onto her sister tightly. After packing everything Mnotho the youngest Mthembu son drives them home.
The neighbours and community members eventually leave the Mthembu homestead. Busikhaya calls his brothers for an emergency meeting while the relatives keep their mother company on the mattress.
“Where is Mndeni?” Busikhaya’s eyes go over his two brothers who're always punctual. It infuriates him that Mndeni never take time seriously even at situations like this. “He will catch up. Why are we here?” Ngcwethi asks impatiently.
“We are here to make an immediate decision. Ndaba won't go down to the grave alone AmaNgwane edla amabele!” Busikhaya says tapping his foot down like he'll take on anyone who dares to to go against him.
“Aren't we supposed to be mourning?” Mnotho asks.
“Oh trust me we are mourning. The Ngwanes will help us do it. Put your jackets on get your 1s and extras for balance we will chew impande and lick Ngomane's black powder before we leave” Busikhaya orders.
Mndeni walks in and looks at them with bloodshot eyes.
Somehow they knew that he'll take this worse than anyone. He's been always the most emotional among them but today his emotions have provoked the other side of him. He is hungry for war.
“Why are we still waiting?” he asks.
“Good question!” Busikhaya looks at Ngcwethi. He's the only one who is still sitting down. Others are on their feet preparing their guns.
“We don't have any evidence.” -Ngcwethi.
“Do we need stupid evidence? We all know who killed our father so cut us the level-headed brother crap and get armed. It is war they killed our father!”
The clock ticks 7:22pm. The Ngwane yard is quiet not even their dogs are barking. All the lights are off. The Mthembus enter the yard from different directions. The homestead has about six rondavels and a couple of two-rooms. It’s a quite big yard but they're done within five minutes checking the all the houses.
There is no one inside. They start afresh and check thoroughly. The Ngwanes must've suspected something and went into hiding.
“Fuck It!” Busikhaya curses and kicks the buckets of water in front of him. He continues to smash everything on the table.
“So they ran away?” Mndeni hisses angrily.
“Bloody cowards! Sizobathola kodwa ayikho impunga yehlathi.” -Busikhaya.
They walk out Mndeni slams the door and clicks his tongue. A human figure appears out of nowhere and stands in front of them. Mndeni has aimed his gun and is ready to shoot should the person make one more move.
“Please don't kill me” cries the person.
It's a young lady holding a stack of books. Ngcwethi lifts the torch to her face and takes a good look.
“Who are you?” he asks.
“Zanamuhla…I haven't done anything wrong please don't shoot.” She is closed to tears. Her voice is trembling and begging. She was advised against coming here but the thought of missing her final exam was unbearable. She told everyone that she needed a bathroom and secretly ran to fetch her books. The biggest mistake of her life.
“You're Mazwakhe's sister?” Mnotho asks viciously. Unaware that admitting to being Mazwakhe's sister is like digging her own grave the young girl nods her head in agreement.
“Take her Mndeni” Busikhaya orders.
Books scatter on the ground Mndeni grabs the girl's arm and lifts her up like she is a sack of potatoes.
“Maaaaaaa..….” A gun slides inside her wide open mouth as she tries to scream for help.
“One more word and you'll have a bullet for dinner" -Busikhaya.
Ngcwethi throws a petrol bomb on one of the rondavels and fires two bullets in the air to deliver a message.