The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart.
~ Helen Keller ~
Erin du Toit's 9-year old daughter has been kidnapped by Johannesburg's most powerful witchdoctor. Can Erin save her child before she's chopped up for muthi? Erin’s first instinct is to go to the police, but the South African Police Force is paralyzed by corruption and overwhelmed by hundreds of open cases. Cases just like Erin’s. Erin delves into the dark underbelly of Johannesburg to find the man who took her daughter. When she realizes that the police are protecting him, she must decide between disobeying a violent police force and giving up on her daughter.
Body parts from corpses serve a valuable purpose, but the best ingredients come from body parts that are harvested while the victim is still alive.
Prof. Jeremy Sharp, Murder for Medicine, 2018
Lindsey had painted dead rabbits on her fingernails.
Tiny black and white rabbit heads with crosses for eyes and their tongues sticking out. She sat cross-legged on our bed while the soapies bubbled their way across the TV on the dresser. It had taken her three hours, and seven different nail polish bottles, before she was happy with her handy work.
The grey pre-dawn light and blurry edges of sleep
softened the edges of the bunnies. They drifted in and out of focus as sleep relinquished its hold on me.
The bunnies on Lindsey’s nails had started out as
regular bunnies with smiley faces, but she was worried her friends would call them lame and tease her. She’d picked up a paintbrush with only a few hairs and, with her tongue sticking from the corner of her mouth, she’d turned the happy bunnies into dead ones.
A pang of regret gripped my heart. My little girl was
growing up too fast. She’d be ten years old in a month. She still had a child’s body, long skinny legs, an impish little smile, and the white-blond hair that matched my own. I missed the sweet innocent baby, the sassy toddler. But I loved the cheeky little girl she was growing into.
Lindsey lay on her side facing me with her fingers in
front of her mouth. Exactly the way she’d slept as a baby. The blankets rose and fell as she breathed the slow breaths of deep sleep. There was just enough light for me to see the dead rabbits. They were hectic. We’d have to talk about them later. They weren’t suitable for school. She’d spent so long painting them that it would break her heart if I made her clean them off before she got to show her friends.
The first birdsong cut through the cold, silent
morning. Only the mossies were too stupid, or too stubborn to stay in their beds until it warmed up a little.
Cocooned in warmth and quiet, it was easy to imagine
that it was just Lindsey and me, in our own house. We’d live in a neat three-bedroom cottage on the south coast, with big open windows and waves crashing on the beach outside. Seagulls would wake us, not little brown jobbies. The dream of our own house faded, leaving hot frustration in my chest. There were five other people in this tiny house. It had been perfect when my father had died. Just big enough for my mom and her two kids. But twenty years had added children and partners, and we were all still stuck in the same house.
I’d moved out when I discovered I was pregnant with
Lindsey fresh out of high school. I moved in with her
father and everything was lekker until it wasn’t. He was ‘too young to be tied down,’ and I wound up back on my mother’s doorstep with an infant and a suitcase full of bad memories.
Soon I’d have enough money to put down a three month deposit and we could get a place of our own. I just needed to save for a little longer. I’d have to get used to living alone again. It wasn’t easy sharing a home with so many people, but we were a close family and supported each other through toxic relationships, bad jobs, and no jobs.