I half ran, half stumbled over the bushy ground as best I could trying to head towards where the road might be from the direction of the moving headlights. The landscape was filled with the dark lumps of small thorn trees and shrubs, rocky outcrops and aloe bushes.
As I wove my crooked way through the land, my nose picked up the faint scent of kerosene and the smell of slightly charred mieliepap, in other words, the signs that here was a house not far off.
Sure enough the straight edges of a small building standing in contrast to the rounded bushes and trees that surrounded it, emerged in the darkness. I slowed down and carefully approached the low fence that bordered a small yard. The house was dark and all was quiet. From a tiny shed in the corner of the yard I heard the soft clucks of sleepy chickens.
Suddenly I heard the faint roar of vehicles approaching from the direction of the big house, I presumed they had to make their way around from the front of the mansion or from the breaker’s yard but I had been hoping for a bit more time.
I could dimly make out the road about 10 metres or so on the other side of the small dwelling. This house was partially screened and set back a little from the road. Dhlamini and his men may miss this place as it was so small, but if they saw it, or knew it, they may well stop, as it was an obvious hiding place being so close to his domain. Once again I was torn, should I run or hide?
I turned back to look at the inviting expanse of darkened bush, and noticed the side to side swinging motion of a game spotting light moving in a higgledy fashion across the land closer to the big house. They must have deployed an all-terrain vehicle to search the intervening ground too.
Just then I heard an old man’s voice coming from the back of the house. “Who’s there?”
“Sorry Grandpa” I used the respectful name for an older man, “Please help me, I’m lost”.
I could make out a small bent figure, his face obscured by a shadow cast from his flat cap as he held up a kerosene lamp. Although I had never been here before, something felt familiar.
“Actually I think you must be, nobody walks past my chickens without me knowing and nobody comes here on purpose unless it’s trouble”.
I started to sweat now, the headlights were drawing closer. ...