The Phone is Not of His Age

By Trust Bvengara

A man from the Boet community is serving two sentences in prison for killing an old man (John Sauro) over a cell phone. A goblin appears to him every night with the old man’s image. When the goblin speaks, a conflagration of fire pops out of the mouth. At times, the goblin horrifies and intimidates Oliver with flames and ashes but no one can see it except Oliver.

As a journalist, I requested permission to gain entry into Mandikise Prison to see the living conditions of inmates. I got the motivation to visit the local prison because of a friend who had been imprisoned in South Africa for illegally entering a neighboring country without a passport. My friend told me that I had to see prison to believe it.

Fortunately, the hour I arrived at the prison was also a visiting hour. I eavesdropped on conversations from the reception room when Oliver was revealing his prison circumstances to his mother. He had never shared his encounters with anyone in the prison. For the first time, he narrated his nightmares.

Three weeks earlier, Oliver was going to a nearby village where he was called by his friend to act as an assistant builder. On his way to Mandadzaka Village, he saw a white-headed, rugged, and wrinkled old man with shaggy hair operating his smartphone Samsung Galaxy J4. Oliver felt envious of the old man who was using a phone of the modern age. He thought of robbing the seventy-year-old man but failed because there were some people coming toward them.

The old man was going to his home, and Oliver followed him. Unfortunately, the old man did not notice that he was being hunted. Upon arriving home, the old man left his phone on charge and went behind his house to irrigate his vegetable garden. This gave a leeway to Oliver who entered the house furtively and stealthily. He succeeded in stealing the phone and also attempted to snap a solar panel. Unluckily, he was seen by grandchildren who were playing card games under a Jacaranda tree.

The grandchildren went tip-toeing behind the house and informed their uncle about the thief who had entered the house. The uncle reacted swiftly; as luck would have it, he met the thief at the door. The robber hit the old man on his forehead and bolted away. The old man fell and hit his head on the doorstep. The hooligan ran like a gold medalist into the thick bushes and disappeared from the vicinity completely.

The old man was left bleeding by the doorway. The blood gushed like leaking water under pressure. His clothes were drenched with blood and red as Valentine’s Day dress code. The grandchildren were desperate and crying. There was a rowdy and boisterous noise at the old man’s home. Neighboring family members came to the scene and tried to lift up the old man but he could not stand on his own. They then undertook first aid. In seconds, they lifted the old man and sped with him to Mt Selinda General Hospital with a Honda Fit vehicle. Tragically, the old man died upon arrival due to over-bleeding.

The house of the old man had a CCTV camera which helped the family members and the police capture the thief’s identity. The hooligan was caught soon after the burial of the old man. The robber was brought before the family members of the deceased.

The old man’s mother is also a witch doctor, and she finger-pointed to the grave where the old man was laid and said, “My son, here is the person who killed you, go with him.” That was the beginning of the old man’s avenging spirit. Even the police were frightened by these words spoken to a grave.

The police from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) had brought Oliver to the old man’s house to demonstrate how he had committed his crimes. The hooligan was then submitted to the magistrate court of law and sentenced to forty years in prison.

I was caught with fear when I overheard the conversation between Oliver and his mother. He told his mother that he was not sleeping during the night. The goblin of the old man comes during the night to avenge. If Oliver tries to sleep, the goblin awakens him to demand why he killed him. I overhead other prison bandits talking about Oliver’s challenges in prison. They said killing a person is not easy for dead people to avenge. Oliver is actually in hot soup.

The stories of goblins are always frightening. I felt sorry for Oliver but I said deep inwardly he has to face the war he started. All the zeal for investigating prison conditions fled from my mind as I feared I would meet the goblin. I went home without entering the inner premises. Oliver’s experience in prison was so dreadful I even felt pity for the prisoners who were incarcerated with him. If the goblin misbehaves one day, what will these men do when they are confined? I really love journalism, but when it comes to the issues of goblins, I cannot stand it.

9 June, 2023