The sun had begun to set over the Tswane Hills outside Pretoria, when the Rainbow Shelter boys wound up their regular soccer match and retreated to the main block. They left behind a ball in the net of the goal posts close to the wire fence that ran between the shelter and the back street. The black and white striped ball was visible from the graffiti-sprayed warehouse across the street, where ‘drop-in’ boys from the CBD usually retreated to shake off the day’s stress with a joint of dagga. Tapeko, who was responsible for the kitchen, the sports room, and sporting equipment, had just walked into the shelter from Sunnyside Police Station where he’d gone to visit Sib, who had been detained. He noticed the soccer ball lying idle inside the net and directed his feet to the posts. He went into the net, retrieved the ball, and began to walk towards the main block. Without notice, his right toe struck something invisible on the earth, and a searing pain forced him to drop the ball and a bunch of keys in his hands. He jerked up his right leg and scrutinized his foot. A dark look came over his face. The skin of his big toe was ripped off, so that the top lay exposed.
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