It was already 6 pm, we were late. We were racing down the sandy track and were anxious to set up camp as quickly as possible. Kids were yelling for dinner and an ominous grey cloud had consumed the starry night. The mist enveloped us and spat droplets of water at our window screen. Mangrove trees appeared and disappeared like ghostly beings playing tricks on our eyes. After an 8 hour drive, we reached the camp site and swung open the car doors, eager to erect our tent and settle the children in as quickly as possible. We’d finally arrived at our favourite beach destination in Mozambique and despite the cold and dark atmosphere, we were looking forward to cracking open that first cold 2M beer and to start the holiday we were so looking forward to! But we could never have anticipated what would happen next…
Our friend, who had arrived a few days earlier, came bolting through the thick mist on our arrival, eyes frantic and sweat dripping down his face. He’d just been attacked; narrowly missed being stabbed with a knife and for a few long seconds, fought for his life.
Earlier that day, word got out that a thief had escaped the local prison yet again. Previously, he’d stolen chickens and clothes from neighbouring communities and they had caught him taking their meager belongings not once, but twice. And today, he had escaped from his prison cell once again. But this time he had been warned. If he escaped again and was caught, he would be dealt with.
That morning our friend intercepted the thief attempting to steal his running shoes from the camp. The authorities were alerted and the local village took charge; heading a manhunt that would go on all day – that scoured the thick mangrove swamps, the dunes and the bush. Unbelievably, that early evening, the thief returned to the camp site and attempted to steal the same shoes yet again. A struggle took place and this time they caught him.
As we climbed out of our stuffy car, a wave of coldness slapped our faces and the angry sound of shouting, anguished howling and the repeated blows of a blunt weapon, then silence.
Minutes later, a group of men came thundering through the mist. They pulled a rope. My eyes followed the rope for a few metres until I saw him. It was a body of a bloodied man. A dead man being dragged by the neck through the sand, noosed and beaten, past my children and into the darkness.
The leader of the group, consumed with rage and adrenalin, turned to us and shouted, “Now you can have a happy holiday.”
“Vengeance, retaliation, retribution, revenge are deceitful brothers; vile, beguiling demons promising justifiable compensation to a pained soul for his losses. Yet in truth they craftily fester away all else of worth remaining.”
– Richelle E. Goodrich