Mpumalanga Township, South Africa, March 1991
“He is a collaborator, an informer. He deserves to die.”
Vusi’s body writhed. The weight of the tyre around his neck caused his legs to buckle. Collapsing to his knees, Vusi gasped as the men doused his head with petrol. The liquid penetrated the wounds on his back and chest that his neighbours had inflicted on him with their home-made weapons. Each attempt he made to stand up were dashed by a blow from a stick or the stab of a blade. His skin bulged. His limbs contorted.
A crack of fire engulfed Vusi’s rubber shackle. The killers’ faces, twisted with hatred. Adrenalin pumped through their bodies as they bellowed traditional war cries, intensifying the contagion of violence.
Vusi’s eyes screamed in desperation for death to cure his agony.
He prayed, “Dear God, Protect my son”.
The warriors grew tired and lost interest in their human bonfire. One by one, they drifted away.
A lifeless body lay charred and crisp on the parched ground, sprinkled with the Natal dust that marinated the flesh. Acrid smoke wafted towards the rainbowed sunset that caressed the rooftops of the township. Dogs barked playfully. Women called their children home. A silhouette shimmered behined a lilac hued Jacaranda tree where the doe-eyed boy wept silently.