Fezekile Futhwa 

Revolutionary Relay - Write What You Like

Fiction

THE MAGIC NUMBER - Part 1

"Hello Thabo. Thabo wa bantwana." she exclaimed with a smug on her face. "Do you remember me?", she continued. "Let me guess, you don't know who I am, right?" Then she laughed loudly, attracting even more stares in their direction. "Players like you don't remember who they have slept with in the past." This last statement made him alert, slowly realising that there is more to this bashing than a mere excitement of a beautiful young woman. A little crowd was already gathered around them, all looking intently at this Thabo rumoured to be best player around. Everyone knows a young man by the name of Thabo, seemingly involved with all the beautiful girls of the location, as townships are called in the Free State province. But the majority of adults have never set eyes on him before, until this day.

All they know is the blue Citi Golf that continually picks up girls in the neighbourhood. Every family that has a young beautiful girl is worrying about this Thabo lad, who is renowned throughout the Free State province. Girls from Bloemfontein, Welkom, Thaba-Nchu, Bethlehem and Qwaqwa all know Thabo. He is the single most girl-friended guy around. So much that he goes out with girls who are friends, that is how desirable he is among the young maidens.

Thabo is a young man who comes from a poor family in Botshabelo Block M. What his family lack in social standing, he has in good looks. He is a rainbow child born of a mother working as a maid for a white family in Wesselsbron. He is the product of the illicit habits of farmers in those regions, who find pleasure in the domestic workers when their misses are out. So Thabo, like many other children in the region, is light complexion with fluffy hair; a trait girls in the Free State seem to love very much. How else do you explain the string of girls Thabo dates across the entire province?

Locals call him lebusmane, because of his looks. His looks put him in good standing whenever he goes in the Free State with the female species. Women fall over themselves for him.

Thabo has been a player since his years in high school. By the time he completed matric, he had long achieved the magic number, 100. This made him a legend among young boys who admired his tact and ruthlessness with women. In the laid back Free State, 100 is the biggest achievement amongst boys. To sleep with 100 girls.

A 100 girls makes you a legend among the young boys. This is the ultimate status symbol for young boys who lack anything better to do.

"My name is Disebo. I live in Jerusalema Park, does it ring a bell Mr?" the lady continued to lambast at him in full force. "Thabo Radieta wa Mme Mamohlophehi, o sebete moshemane. To come pick up girls from this side of the world. Kajeno lena badimo ba heno ba o furalletse. O lahluwe ke sepoko. After all you have done to me?" Disebo continued her rapture. By now a sizeable group of spectators was building up, for this was a public place to begin with. People had gathered her to celebrate a party as parties are usually where young people gather these days. Nthabiseng was celebrating her 21stbirthday in style. Almost all the young people of Thabong had gathered here today to have fun. As fate would have it, here is Disebo running into Thabo, after not seeing him in about five years. Long eventful five years for both of them.

Disebo had been one of Thabo's many girlfriends five years ago while she was in high school. When she fell pregnant, Thabo had simply vanished from the face of the earth and never to be seen again. Until today that is.

Thabo has travelled a lot around the Free State. His mother's side of the family is scattered all over the province, a fact that has allowed him this free movement between different towns. In every town he has visited, he had always had a string of girls to his name. The last time he sat foot in Qwaqwa, he had narrowly escaped fate. A mother of one of his many girlfriends had decided to put to end this pandemic called Thabo. He had one day miraculously escaped being poured with boiling water over the face. He has never dared going back to Qwaqwa ever since.

His behaviour had guaranteed that Thabo had seven children by the time he completed matric. Things moved from bad to worse when he got a job a clerk at the Mangaung municipality. All young girls coming to the municipality for service ended up receiving a different kind of service, Thabo himself. By the end of his first year of service he had managed to buy himself a car. His car had personalised number plates, PLAYA FS. The blue citi golf became a trade mark amongst young girls. The car has seen more girls inside than the many parts that make up a car. After three years of working for the municipality, Thabo had lost count of the number of girls he had taken to bed. All he knows is that they are over five hundred in total, the majority of whom he can't even remember their faces, let alone their names.

Thabo was now in a self imposed exile from many towns and cities as a result of his loving ways. He didn't even know how many kids he had, all he knows are all the girls whose pregnancies he had blatantly refused. Life was becoming increasingly difficult for Thabo in the Free State. He found it hard to travel, even on duty. Bloemfontein itself was no longer a nice place for him. Too many families were unhappy with him for the bad treatment he has given their daughters. A few cases had in fact already been reported at work about him. He had many maintenance cases pending also. Life indeed was becoming unbearable for him. He was already considering requesting a transfer to another province, just to get away from all these problems.

While he honestly does not remember most of his girlfriends, he certainly remembered who Disebo was, especially the fact that he left her when she fell pregnant. It would be difficult to forget the beautiful Disebo. She was a perfect doll in every way. Drop-dead gorgeous, well mannered and intelligent. Very few girls stuck in his mind like Disebo did.

Thabo, for the most part, was dumbfounded. He had absolutely no idea what to say or how to react. He had never anticipated running into someone like Disebo. So he just stood there looking stupid. When it was clear no answer was forthcoming from him, Disebo gave him a big slap that sent him falling on his behind. This brought giggles and laughs from the group gathered to witness this scene. At that very moment, it is like all the bad things that Thabo had ever done to Disebo came back in a flash to her. Instantly, she was mad as hell. She pounced on him and gave him the beating of his life. All this happened so fast for him to make sense of it. By the time he came to his senses, he was a real mess from the handiwork of his beautiful Disebo. Realising what was happening to him, he stood up and gave Disebo a big slap. He was obviously going on the offensive and was about to unleash his anger on Disebo when a group of guys who knew Disebo stepped in and gave him a beating of his life. He was badly beaten and no one in the whole of Welkom had the slightest sympathy for him. In this way, Welkom became another exile for him.

Modiehi grew up at her parents' home in Block J in Botshabelo. A decent girl who was just like any other girl you can find in Botshabelo. As a young girl Modiehi was just an ordinary girl in the way of looks. Not pretty but decent and presentable. When Modiehi was in Grade 9, she was really flattered that a boy like Thabo would even take notice her. Thabo had taken to chasing after Modiehi too. While she had no interest whatsoever in him, his interest in her had boosted her profile at school. She was suddenly a popular girl, a fact that quickly went to her head and she ended up sleeping with Thabo. She immediately fell pregnant.

Modiehi was the first girl to be impregnated by Thabo, and the very first to be dumped the minute he learnt she was pregnant. She came from a modest family, by Botshabelo standards of course. Which would be poor by any other standard. The result of this unplanned pregnancy was that Modiehi was expelled from school. Her parents threw her out of their home. Her refuge was her uncle, her mother's brother, who lived in Thaba-Nchu. She relocated to Selosesha in Thaba-Nchu where she gave birth to a healthy boy, whom she named Tshotleho, a Sesotho name for suffering. Life was generally difficult for her, she could not come back home to Botshabelo, not even during the holidays or over weekends. Her father just did not want to see her any more. Only her mother would come by to visit a few year later.

Two years after giving birth, Modiehi went back to school to finish her studies. Up to that point when she had met Thabo, she had not bothered thinking about the future. The idea of what it was she wanted to become in life had never crossed her mind. But the two years she spent raising her young baby gave her a lot of time to think and assess her life. She had resolved to work hard to complete her schooling with the hope that she could secure a scholarship as no one in her family was willing to send her to university. Her resolve to study had nothing to do with wanting a future. It had everything to do with Thabo Radieta. She took a vow, swearing by her late grandmother, that one day she would make Thabo pay for what he did to her.

Ethel worked as a social worker for the Department of Social Development in Bloemfontein. She had graduated four years ago from the Free State University with a BA Hons in Social Work. Throughout her life, she had closely monitored Thabo and his progress in life. Though she had completed matric first and started work before him, she had never forgotten to keep a close eye on him. Ethel was the happiest person when Thabo had finally gotten the job, even more so when he bought a car. She had quickly moved to put her long resting plan into action.

Ethel had gone all out to locate all the women she could find in Bloemfontein who had fallen victim to Thabo. These women were divided into two groups, those with children and those without. She busy preparing a class-like case against Thabo. Firstly she would help those with children sue for maintenance. Then she would file a suit for emotional abuse for those who had been Thabo's girlfriends. Like many young women in Bloemfontein, she had been one of Thabo's toys. She intended to prove a case that Thabo was a serial heart breaker.

Gugu came from a very conservative family. Her father was the archbishop of the Pentacostal church in Maokeng Kroonstad. His was a well respected member of the community who was strict with his children. Gugu met Thabo at a church wedding in Virginia and they instantly took liking to each other. So much that Thabo was able to bed her that same evening in a cheap hotel, and later in the back of his citi golf. Up to this point, Gugu had been a virgin and she had been proud of that fact. Following the wedding, they had discretely kept in touch and Thabo would often drive to Kroonstad to see her. A few months later she was heavily pregnant. As usual, Thabo disowned her and disappeared when he learned about the pregnancy. Her strict archbishop father could not live with the disgrace and he ended up divorcing Gugu's mother. Her family was forever broken as a result. She grew up to be an active member of the movement, a fact that saw her progress to the provincial executive committee of the movement.

Modiehi had worked hard to qualify for a scholarship to the University of the Free State to study for her BJuris degree, followed by an LLB specialising in criminal law. She was an admitted attorney in the Free State Bar Council. Up to this point of her life, she had been a successful attorney. In time, she filed a suit against Thabo for child maintenance. Her second suit was for damages for the hurt and hardships Thabo had caused her. It was the child maintenance suit that had caught Ethel's attention. She had filed a suit for child maintenance on behalf of seven women, including herself. At this point, Ethel had been struggling to secure a legal firm to represent them on the serial heart breaker case, and Modiehi's profile had impressed her a lot.

With three very influential women now finding themselves in the same city of Bloemfontein, discussions had begun to strategise on the plan to bring Thabo down and humiliate him. Ethel had successfully lobbied Gugu, who was by now part of the provincial government, to join her class suit. Gugu, on her part, would work on lobbying all organs of state to be sympathetic to Ethel's case. While Modiehi would continue with her suits independent of the rest of the women in Ethel's fold, she had agreed nonetheless to represent the group as their attorney.

Thabo was now restless, with eight women suing him for child support in Bloemfontein alone. He wondered what would happen should all the women with whom he had children decided to follow suit. He estimated that he had impregnated no less than twenty two women, or that was what he could remember. So he potentially was a father to twenty two children at the age of only twenty five. With what he was earning, there was absolutely no way in which he could afford maintaining all these children. His only hope of being transferred to another province had recently hit a wall when things didn't go as planned. Unknown to him, his transfer was expertly blocked by non other than Gugu herself.

Modiehi's child support case was the first nightmare for Thabo. As soon the trial began, it was clear that she would win the case. Three months later, the court ordered him to pay R1200 a month child support to Modiehi. Next case facing him was a civil suit by Modiehi for damages and suffering he had caused her. While this was highly uncommon in South Africa, everyone close to the case agreed Modiehi had put together a winnable case. Thabo's legal counsel had acceded to this and had advised him to settle out of court, but Modiehi would hear none of it.

The class suit led by Ethel began while Thabo was facing a civil suit from Modiehi. This particular case brought by Ethel attracted a lot of attention, mainly because comrade Gugu had worked her magic with the politicians for them to take a stand behind Ethel. Out of the blue Thabo found himself faced with a suit whose main purpose was to teach men like him a lesson. The politicians were in full support of the case. The media were fed full details of the case by unknown sources. Before long, Thabo was in all the major newspapers across the Free State province. Several radio stations held interviews with Ethel to explain to the public what the case was about and why it was important. As a result, more women were coming up to join the class suit against him. So a case that had started with only eight women was now sitting with twenty nine complainants.

Modiehi won her civil suit against him, but judgement was still pending. The class suit with twenty nine women suing him for child support was fast nearing completion, with a lot of media coverage. Indications were that Thabo would lose the case. The second phase of the class suit, suing for mental and physical suffering of the women, got started. Thabo's legal council recused themselves from the case citing other commitments. In truth, the firm knew they were fast loosing the case and this had potential negative implications on their reputation and business.

The day Thabo learnt that he no longer had legal representation, he was shocked beyond belief. This had cemented the prevailing view that he had lost the case. That evening he sat in his flat alone reflecting on his life. He had recounted every encounter he could remember with women. How he had approached them, charmed their skirts off their bodies, then dumped them like dirt. For a brief moment, he felt sorry for his actions. He wondered what had prompted him to act the way he did. Of course that question he could not answer. With a heavy heart he lifted his pistol to his head and ended his life.