I am cycling in a group. Four young boys are ahead. Two are behind. Somewhere, much further back, Grant helps one of the boys with cramp. ‘Go on. You ride with the rest of them. I will follow,’ he says. The boys are eager to ride fast. They are young, they are just finding their strength. Their legs and bodies in the last few months have developed. They are not the unsure group we knew four months ago. They are strong cyclists now, eager to test their speed and endurance. I struggle to stay with them. I do not say this.
I push myself and look up to see where we are on the seaside road to Makhaza. A kilometre in the distance I see a row of flatbed trucks and police bakkies, their blue lights flashing. They are lined up to the side of one of the inclines of the road in front of us. ‘Slow down. Looks like there’s an accident.’ I say.
‘It’s okay,’ Avuyile replies. He is the strongest rider of the group, he wants to go faster.
‘No, let’s slow down.’
The boys listen. Avuyile clicks his tongue in disappointment.
We get to the police. There is no accident. We slow down a little more. A cop moves out in front of us holding a shotgun and an ammunition belt. I look to the left. There, on one of the sand dune ridges, policemen are walking carrying shotguns. With them is a group of men in overalls. They all walk slowly. The sand of the dune is difficult to move along. The earth here in the winter is like a cold damp desert. Nothing grows here. The sand in most places spreads out across the road, covering it, wanting to reclaim it. There are no roots to hold it down. The men continue moving towards some place I cannot see, some place over the dune.
‘What’s going on?’ I ask Avuyile.
‘Land grab,’ he replies.
‘What do you mean?’
‘These people did a land grab. The police are throwing people off the land.’
The boys cycle on but I continue to look at what is happening. Now I can see behind the dune to the place where the police are heading. Men in overalls are there. They are breaking down a group of shacks. Three men are coming towards the road, away from this settlement. They are carrying corrugated iron on their heads. They are heading to the trucks Policemen, to my left, are leading a group of people away from the shacks towards the road. Are they under arrest? It is impossible to say. I sit up and freewheel, watching them. Nobody is looking at me. Grant and the young boy with cramp catch up. ‘What’s going on?’ Grant asks
‘Land grab.’ I say.
Grant shakes his head and we ride on.