The truth about your friends may frighten you

Kunutu* speaks with ease about a matter that sent me scurrying for cover. Kunutu belongs to the working class in a town not many have heard of – Bela-Bela.

It sprawls at the foot of the Waterberg mountains on the southern fringes of the equally not-so-newsworthy Limpopo.

I was recently attending a funeral in the township outside Bela-Bela when I bumped into Kunutu, who had previously whispered that he had a story to tell, but that he was not ready yet.

The journalist in me nudged me to politely ask Kunutu if he was ready to tell his story. The man winked back and said he was.
Kunutu was even prepared to tell it all in full view of a few other mourners who were resting and having drinks after the burial.

Rewind back to the days when Kunutu worked as a gardener for an old age home in Gezina, Pretoria. At the home, Kunutu had a room, adjacent to one occupied by a woman who was the domestic servant at the care centre.

One day the woman – whom I shall call Sister* – introduced Kunutu to her brother, who was visiting from the rural areas. Kindly bear with me if I’m reluctant even to mention which rural area Sister and, er, Brother* came from.

During the introductions, Sister asked if Kunutu could be so kind as to accommodate Brother in his room, because her boyfriend lived with her in the other room. Kunutu welcomed Brother, and the two men became buddies.

Brother, who was driving a car, even took Kunutu along to visit a girlfriend. What unsettled Kunutu was that Brother regularly introduced him to a new girlfriend.

One night, when the two men were about to go to sleep – Kunutu on his single bed and Brother on a mat on the floor – police sirens blurted out from a part of the suburb. Brother’s reaction was that he would rather spend the night in the nearby reeds, because the police could cause trouble as he did not work for the old age home.

A few days later, Kunutu was walking the streets of downtown Pretoria in the company of Brother when they spotted a police van parked ahead of them. Brother suggested that they re-route because he was in possession of dagga, which could cause all sorts of problems with the cops.

Then, one fateful Sunday when Brother was away, a gardener known to Kunutu came to his room with a newspaper carrying the identikit of Brother on the front page – and pictures of several women who had allegedly died at the man’s hands.

A few days later, Brother was arrested. These damn criminals know that you and I tend to look the other way, even when the signs are clear.

That’s how Kunutu’s quarters ended up as the lair of a serial killer.

*not their real names

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