Only empty beer bottles and a spattered blood stain the size of a soccer ball remain on the street from the previous night. No cars are around, no people. The night was undoubtedly epic. I could hear it from behind the thick walls of my room, and the bass made my windows rattle. For many, I imagine, the night is now but a vague, lingering memory, but it’s all disturbingly fresh in my head.
My street, Canterbury Grove, in Durban, is no regular neighbourhood. There’s not a tree in sight; no gardens or wooden fences. The only life that exists is hidden behind razor-wired steel gates and brick walls higher than the houses. For some reason I still can’t fathom, last night my street came alive with alcohol in excess, women and men hugging every corner of space, and body-shaking music pumping from cars full volume.
I had intended to spend the evening reading and sleeping – a lazy Saturday night. It was impossible. Watching from my window, I became intrigued and soon became a spectator. What fascinated me most was the dedication to effortless fun. I sat and watched gyrating couples oblivious to any other guy or girl standing around them. The atmosphere seemed surprisingly contagious. Then suddenly my neighbour – an elderly, frail and agitated man – started shouting and swearing. I thought mkhulu Shezi’s patience had reached its limit as he began cursing at all the noise, but I was wrong. With the while street’s attention focused on the party, a thief had climbed over the wall into old man Shezi’s place.
“Bamba! (catch him)! Bamba!” screamed Shezi. I saw the shadow of a man climbing back over the fence and, unfortunately for him, straight into the street party. It was the last I saw of him. Almost everyone wanted a piece of the action. Once he was pinned against a wall, I lost count of the number of kicks and punches he took. One of the guys dancing the street, a big, even from afar, bald man grabbed a wheel spanner from the boot of his car. The party became a crime scene. Soon afterwards, the police arrived. But Canterbury Grove settled down again once they’d left.
This story forms part of a Roving Reporters series, Slices of Life. The series arises from Roving Reporters’ participation in the UCT GetSmarter Feature Writing course convened by André Wiesner.
Nomfundo Xolo, 21, is one of the most enterprising and dynamic students to have graduated from the Durban University Technology this year. She is currently furthering her training with Roving Reporters, also working on a documentary Confessions of a Turtle Butcher. She describes herself as a journalist out to explore, inspire, break new ground and have fun.