The story of a young black man Chapter 11 - Mzansi Stories

Wednesday, January 27


The story of a young black man Chapter 11


Leeto: The story of a young black man

A nail-biting meeting in Mr Nkomo’s office

Chapter 11

“Leeto”, my mother said, “I just got off the phone with Mr Nkomo; what happened at school yesterday? Is it true that you were involved in a fight?” “Eish mama”, I began to speak, “Batista was trying to pick on me and my friends; what else was I supposed to do?” “Who or what is Batista?” my mother asked. “He is…” I tried to answer however I was cut short by my mother. “Save it, I don’t want to hear it; you’ll explain everything at the meeting”, my mother snapped at me. My mother was furious; I had seen her angry before but not like this. My mother took a bath while I wandered around the yard, trying to come up with a good story that might not result in us getting expelled. On the contrary, Mr Nkomo had warned us the day before not get involved in any criminal activities especially now that we were Grade 12 learners. Fighting is a criminal act that is stated in the constitution of the Republic of South Africa that, if tried and found guilty of it in a court of law, is punishable by paying a penalty and/or serving a prison sentence, let alone getting expelled from school. All these thoughts went through my mind as I prepared myself for the meeting.

Instead of walking to school with the boys on this day, I was going to have my mother for company throughout my entire walking trip to school. I suppose Tshepang and Samson also experienced the same problem. On our way to school, mom was just going on and on about how I had disappointed her and how she was going to ask Mr Masango not to work with me on weekends anymore. “Ah mama”, I said, “What does this have to do with me and Mr Masango working together?” “Everything”, she said, “This has everything to do with you working with Mr Masango on weekends. Instead of being at home, learning some manners, you’re out there working. I wouldn’t be surprised if you said you had learned some of that behaviour from other men at the hardware who fight for customers”. “Mom”, I said to her, “I think you’re blowing this whole thing way out of proportion; you’ll hear when we get to school what really happened yesterday”.

 We arrived at school at just before 07h30 where we found Tshepang and his mother already there. “Morning Sylvia”, my mother greeted Mrs Marumo, Tshepang’s mother. “Morning to you too, my friend; how are you this morning?” Mrs Marumo greeted my mother back. “I could’ve better been much better but thanks to these naughty boys, we’re here now. How are you doing yourself?” my mother continued. “I am not doing too bad”, Mrs Marumo answered my mother, “I had a chat with Tshepang and instead of being completely angry and disappointed in him; a part of me is proud of him for standing up against bullying, especially when it was his friend who was being bullied”. “Oh, is that so?” my mother asked. “Yes mom”, I interjected, “That’s what I’ve been trying to explain to you this morning but you kept on not giving me a chance to”.

My mother looked at me and said nothing. As learners began making their way to their classes, we waited next to the staff office until 08h30—the time our meeting was scheduled to start. Whilst waiting for the meeting to start, we were joined by Samson and his mother as well as Batista and his father. The only person who neither brought their parent nor pitched for school was Batista’s friend, Godfrey Sisonke. As a result of this, poor Batista was left all alone as our parents spoke about grown ups’ stuff whilst Samson, Tshepang and I spoke about the things we could have spoken about had we not came to school separately, with our parents. Samson seemed to have forgotten that the whole thing was started by one sick joke that Tshepang and I had devised.

Mr Nkomo invited us all into the office at around 08h27 so that we could start with the meeting. “Good morning, boys, and parents”, he greeted us as we entered his office. We all greeted Mr Nkomo back, who, at this time, was busy going through a file he had on his table. When he had found what he was searching for, Mr Nkomo asked each and every one of us to relay the details of what had led to us fighting. Batista jumped at the opportunity to be the ice-breaker, and said, pointing at Samson, “This jerk called my girlfriend on her cellphone and harassed her. When my girlfriend reported this to me, I wanted to ask him why he had done such a thing. It wasn’t my intention to fight with him, I only wanted to ask him where he had gotten Ntombi’s cellphone numbers from and why he had harassed her however he and his friends ganged up on me”.  Mr Motshweneng slapped Batista at the back of his head and said, out of disapproval, “Is that how your mother and I have taught you to speak especially when there are adults around?” Before Batista could reply, Mr Nkomo politely asked Mr Motshweneng and our parents to refrain from using physical violence when they want to punish us.
After Batista, we were all given an opportunity to tell our side of the story. Mr Nkomo, followed by my mother and lastly, Mrs Lehabe, tongue-lashed me and Tshepang. They all warned us not to do anything like that ever again, emphasising that it could have resulted in our friend, Samson, getting in harm’s way because of our stupid joke.  “You boys are setting a wrong example to your juniors in the lower grades”, Mr Nkomo lashed out at us, “Your actions are inexcusable and had your parents not begged me, over the phone, not to expel you, I could’ve done just that. Mr Nkomo took out four A4 documents, with our names on them and showed them to us; “NOTICE OF EXPULSION” the documents read in big, capped and bolded letters. Mr Nkomo then took the documents and tore them up to pieces except Godfrey Sisonke’s.

“Had I not torn those expulsion letters down, all of you would have already been on your way out”.  “But sir, it wasn’t my fault, they all ganged-up on me…” Batista tried to defend himself however was quietened by his father, “QUIET! Can’t you hear Mr Nkomo is still busy talking?” Despite Mr Nkomo’s earlier plea, Mr Motshweneng had even grabbed his son, Batista, by the collar of his shirt but Mr Nkomo asked him to calm down so that he could finish up the meeting. “I trust this is the last time we have such a meeting, am I understood, boys?” Like disciplined officers in the army, we all answered in one uniformed voice, “Sir, yes, sir”. “Okay then”, Mr Nkomo concluded, “I think we can all file this meeting as being a successful one. I thank you for taking time off from work and your other commitments to attend this meeting. On that note, you are all free to go, except for you boys; your classmates are waiting for you”.

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