The next morning Portia went to work before Luthando woke up. She returned later that day to find that Luthando was still asleep and she became worried. When Portia and Sibusiso tried waking her she wouldn’t wake up, yet she was breathing. Portia and Sibusiso called in their family doctor and his diagnosis was that Luthando was in a coma.
Portia and Sibusiso decided not to have her admitted because the doctor believed it was a temporary situation and being in familiar surroundings might be reverse therapy for whatever had triggered the coma. Portia called in Ma Gesi who prayed, burnt incense and sprinkled holy water all over the house. The doctor advised Portia to wipe Luthando daily since she couldn’t take a bath and he inserted a drip and a urinary catheter. Portia bought adult diapers for Luthando to wear. When Portia was giving Luthando a bath she noticed surgical scars on her body and a chill went down her spine. She stayed until late at night watching over Luthando.
Later Portia got up to go get a glass of water in the kitchen. As she was going up the stairs from the kitchen she bumped into an angry looking Luthando standing at the top of the landing. Before she could do or say anything she felt a strong push and fell. She tumbled to the bottom of the stairs and blacked out. When she woke up she was in bed with Sibusiso and Mangaliso looking over her.
“Where is Luthando?” she asked when she got her bearings and gained control of her voice.
“She’s in her room, you do remember that she’s in a coma?” replied Mangaliso.
“But she got up last night… she’s the one who pushed me down the stairs” said Portia.
“Baby, you must have hit your head harder than we thought when you fell. Why would Luthando push you down the stairs?” asked Sibusiso.
“I don’t know, but Luthando hasn’t been herself lately. Maybe she is possessed by the spirit in this house, but she pushed me down the stairs”, Portia contested as she attempted to get up.
“Whoa! Where are you going?”, asked Sibusiso pushing her back down.
“I’m going to work, I have an important case today”, she said.
“Nosi called; the firm has given the case to Johnson and given you sick leave”, replied Sibusiso.
“But I am okay, I just need to get up and close this case”, she insisted.
“It’s too late. The case has already been legally handed over to someone else. I called Nosipho last night and she called back this morning”, he said.
“But I had a way to win the case”, she cried in defeat.
“Just focus on getting better”, Sibusiso consoled her.
While Portia was on sick leave the Ngwenya family had time to bond as a family. Luthando seemed to be back to her old self and didn’t remember pushing Portia down the stairs. Portia kept sprinkling the holy water around the house and praying. Sibusiso had more time to network for his business since Portia was home. As his own boss he enjoyed working flexible hours and from time to time he had to try and get new clients and catch up on business developments.
Portia was home cooking and waiting for Sibusiso to come back while Luthando and Mangaliso were upstairs. They had become very close after the coma scare. After cooking she went to the garden and worked on it. She found welted white roses and weeds. Sibusiso had been trying to revive the garden since they moved there but he said nothing grew there. The whole yard had a chilly and misty feel to it. She dug the weeds and welted roses out, clearing out the soil so she could begin planting anew.
Later that evening the family had dinner and Portia cleaned the kitchen afterwards, and then they got ready for bed. Portia woke up in the middle of the night; she still was not used to being a temporary housewife and having all that time on her hands. She took out her laptop and read up on legal cases online. The case she had lost out on was going south for her client and that stressed her out because it meant an innocent man would end up in jail. She couldn’t get the scars she’d seen on Luthando’s body out of her mind. She knew she had seen them somewhere but couldn’t remember where. She got up and went to the kitchen to get some water. On her way she saw the light on in Mangaliso’s room and went in to check on him. Upon entering she was confronted by the sight of him and Luthando kissing passionately and making out. She screamed, and the two kissing birds jumped off the bed and stood up adjusting their clothes. Sibusiso rushed in as Portia fainted. When Portia came to her sense she was lying in a hospital room with a doctor checking her.
“Mrs Ngwenya, I am Doctor Erasmus. You are in the hospital; your family brought you in for check-ups. I’ll ask you some questions to determine if you are aware of what’s happening”, said the doctor.
“You mean to see if I’m not crazy? I’m not crazy Doctor. I’m not”, cried Portia.
“But your family members say you might be fatigued or stressed. Have you been seeing unexplainable things and acting out of character that you even took time off work?” asked the doctor.
“It’s that house; there are bad spirits in it and I think one has possessed my daughter that she’s even seducing her brother. She does things then she doesn’t remember. You have to believe me doctor”, said Portia.
“A haunted house”, said the doctor writing something down then he paged through her patient file and read through it.
“I’m not crazy”, said Portia.
“It says here that you are from 16 Glove Drive”, he mused.
“Does that mean something?”, she asked.
“It just means you might not be crazy, but I can’t discharge you without definite results to prove my theory”, he said pulling out a chair and sitting down next to her. He untied her hands from the harness tied onto the bed to restrain her.
“I just remembered that I once saw you on TV; you were Lloyd Moodley’s lawyer”, he said.
“Yes, I was. What does that have to do with anything?” asked Portia.
“Maybe you are here because you are living in what used to be his family home. His wife died in this hospital. He cashed in on her policies and got left behind with their daughter who also died tragically in that house. Their other daughter disowned him because she believed he murdered her mom and sister”, the doctor said.
“So maybe she’s the unsettled spirit that is in the house and she wanted me off the case?” mused Portia.
“I think you are onto something big and might solve a lot of cold cases in one go. Chanel, the daughter didn’t die at the house, but her patient file says she did. She was brought in and I was the doctor on duty. When I got in the following day another doctor had taken over and I was told it was orders from the top. I saw it in the court proceedings on TV that her father was being accused of murder and that evidence proved she was proclaimed dead at the house rather than here”, said Dr Erasmus.
“There were a lot of gaps in the evidence if I remember correctly, which is why I believed Lloyd was innocent. The body of the victim had unexplainable surgical marks for someone who was shot once and fell down the stairs. The same surgical marks that I saw on Luthando’s body”, she said.
“I operated on her to take out the bullet lodged in her ribcage and she was recuperating. I never understood why she died but I couldn’t go to the police because my family was threatened, and I knew I would lose my job if I didn’t become a suspect in the whole case”, said Dr Erasmus.
“Doctor, you need to get me out of here. It is clear we have discovered some type of criminal syndicate that this hospital is covering up”, she pleaded.
“I’ll clear you to be discharged tomorrow”, said Dr Erasmus.
“No, I need to be discharged now. I wasn’t supposed to be here to begin with. I need to make a phone call”, she begged.
Dr Erasmus gave her his phone and left to get discharge forms. She called Nosi and asked her to come to the hospital to get her. Dr Erasmus came back with the signed forms and left to attend to other patients. A nurse entered to check on her and she got a shock when she went through her patient file.
“Why does it say you were discharged?” asked the nurse.
“Dr Erasmus did tests and saw that there is nothing wrong with me so he discharged me”, Portia answered.
“Ma’am, Dr Erasmus couldn’t have discharged you. If you think he did then you definitely need to join an extensive programme because you are not depressed, stressed or fatigued but crazy”, the nurse pointed out.
“Dr Erasmus was just here, I spoke with him and he told me about the connection between…” cried Portia.
“Dr Erasmus died a year ago so I don’t know what you mean”, interrupted the nurse.
“What? Who signed the discharge forms then?” asked Portia as she hid the phone and her untied hands.
“This is his signature but I don’t know how you got it. Wait here, I’ll be right back”, said the nurse as she rushed out.
Portia waited for her to rush down the corridor then she rushed out, looking for a way out of the hospital. She made her way to reception area and sat at the waiting area, waiting anxiously for Nosi to call her back. A mad woman sat next to her and mumbled repeatedly about the dead not being dead and how the alive are blind to it. Just then Nosi called and Portia ran out the hospital in the see-through hospital gown while talking to Nosi on the phone. She found Nosi parked outside and dropped the call, urging her to drive off the minute she got in the car. As they drove off she saw the nurse, a doctor and security guards rushing out of the hospital searching frantically for something. She would bet it was for a ‘lost and crazy’ patient.
“What’s going on?” asked Nosi.
“I need you to call Ma Gesi this phone just went dead on me. Oh, when my husband calls tell him you don’t know where I am”, she said.
“What’s going on, Portia. You are scaring me”, cried Nosi.
“Look, it’s hard to explain without sounding crazy but I think I just uncovered an organ trading syndicate”, said Portia.
“What do you mean?” asked Nosi shocked.
“I’m not sure but somehow doctors manipulate patient files and pass them off as dead when they aren’t. Like the Moodley case. Lloyd is innocent because his daughter wasn’t dead. He shot her by mistake and she fell down the stairs but she didn’t die or suffer any fatal injuries. Dr Erasmus, the doctor who treated her says so except he also died but his ghost discharged me from hospital”, Portia looked at Nosi as she shared her farfetched story.
Nosi looked at her in disbelief then she looked at the road and said nothing.
“You probably think I’m crazy too but I don’t blame you”, said Portia.
“What happened to the boyfriend that Mr Moodley was trying to shoot? Did he also die?” asked Nosi.
“No, he is alive. He would’ve been a witness for Mr Moodley. I could try and find him if you can get me access to the case files”, she replied.
“I think it’s best we drive to Ma Gesi’s, I don’t want Lonwabo to see you”, Nose suggested to Portia.
“You believe me?” she asked perplexed.
“Portia, Ma Gesi was right. My husband is on leave from his job; it started right before the Moodley case went to court. He was on duty that night. I didn’t make the connection before but when you mentioned doctors and false evidence it registered in my head. He is sitting at home getting paid not to work. It’s been over a year and when I ask he says as long as they pay him he won’t complain”, Nosi divulged her family situation with so much shame on her face.
When they got to Ma Gesi’s house, she parked the car and they sat in silence for a while.
“A ghost brought all this to your attention”, Nosi laughed in disbelief.
Portia sighed as she thought of the events of the last couple of months.
“Why call me and not your family?” asked Nosi.
“They had me admitted; now that I think of it Sibusiso is the one who demanded we buy that house. I found it weird considering the neighbourhood and at the price we got it. It was ridiculously below market value; then he didn’t see or hear spirits but he’s the one who is there the most with the kids”, said Portia.
“You think he is part of this?” asked Nosi in disbelieve.
“Maybe it is a coincidence but I don’t want to protect him because he is my husband. He showed too much interest in the Moodley case and insisted Lloyd was guilty when I believed he wasn’t”, she noted.
“Let’s hope he isn’t part of it because it would kill the kids”, said Nosi.
“I don’t know if the kids will be the same after this. Mangaliso is ‘dating’ Chanel who is a ghost living in Luthando’s body”, said Portia.
“What?” asked Nosi mortified.
“Our home is still her home. I think she isn’t aware she is dead and we invaded her space. Yet in all that she was purposely trying to lead us to the truth”, Portia mused.
Nosi’s phone rang and the caller ID showed it was Lonwabo calling.
“Let’s go and see Ma Gesi so I can go home to my criminal of a husband”, muttered Nosi.
They got out of the car and walked into Ma Gesi’s yard. They knocked on her door and she opened within a minute.
“Ma, I need your help”, said Portia.
“You are welcome my dear, I was going to come to you at the hospital tomorrow. I have put two and two together. Come in please”, said Ma Gesi ushering them in.
Inside Ma Gesi’s house at the sitting area were two women sitting on the couch. Ma Gesi introduced them to Portia and Nosi. One was Abigail Thompson and the other was Joanne Naidoo, Chanel’s aunt. Joanne believed there was a ceremony her family could perform at the house to bring peace to Chanel’s soul.
Ma Gesi had searched for Joanne and she insisted that the ceremony be done once the case was solved which is where Abigail came in. She had been referred to Ma Gesi by a friend of hers because she believed her father was killed. Her father, Bradley, had been ill and she had sent him to a doctor for treatment and he seemed to be getting better. He was diabetic and the family doctor relocated while he was still treating her father. The family doctor had been his doctor all his life and knew his health record like the back of his own hand. The hospital reassigned him to another doctor who gave him a lot of pills which he changed from time to time saying he was checking different treatment options. Bradley’s condition got worse within months of him changing doctors and he was proclaimed dead three months later.
A nurse gave her the wrong papers when she was meant to give her mortuary release papers and a paper to take to home affairs for a death certificate. Instead she gave Abigail papers that showed her father was proclaimed dead later that day and the pictures showed he was surgical cut yet he hadn’t undergone an operation. His file showed they had changed his medication and added propofol, a coma inducing drug but in light traces and throughout him being hospitalised they injected him with a heavier drug. His autopsy report showed traces of pentobarbital and thiopental which are drugs used to induce a coma in patients that have suffered brain injury or were in accidents. His autopsy also showed that he died at a much later stage than the times mentioned on the hospital report.
There were also traces of carbon monoxide in the autopsy report. When Abigail took the matter further the hospital seemed willing to admit their mistakes and they wanted to settle out of court. They claimed the drugs were not issued on behalf of the hospital but Dr Roberts might have funded them and administered them from his own pocket. She met with them but when she and her lawyer got there she was accused of being crazy. She felt dizzy minutes into the meeting and would later discover she had been admitted into a clinic for depression for months by her own mother on advice from a Doctor Roberts.
When she got out she found her place ransacked. They had destroyed all the evidence she had taken to them. Her lawyer advised her to let the whole thing go. She had been wise enough to email copies of the files to herself and her lawyer but she couldn’t use them after she was released. She suspected she might end up right back at the clinic. The hospital paid out a large sum to her mom for causing the family trauma and they claimed they replaced all the staff that were on duty that night. Abigail’s mom said there was no use fighting because her dad was dead but Abigail knew that the whole thing was a black market organ trading operation and it ran deeper than her father’s case. Her suspicions were later confirmed when the Moodley case was shown on television.
Nosi refused to go home after she heard Abigail’s story but Lonwabo kept calling. Sibusiso called too to tell Nosi that he was going to file a missing person’s report the following day if Portia didn’t show up.
Nosi woke up and went to work so she could try and collect information on the Moodley case. Over the next couple of days, she and Portia worked tirelessly collecting information to present it to the firm, so they could put Portia back in charge of the case. Once Portia was back in charge of the case and the judge agreed to see the new developments it was easier to prove Lloyd Moodley’s innocence in his daughter’s death.
The police reopened more than twenty cold cases linked to the Roberts organ trading operation spanning over the whole continent and the hospitals were investigated. Dr Roberts moved from one hospital to the next when he saw that he was at risk of being caught. Lonwabo confessed that he was a corrupt paramedic because it was a way to make extra money on the side. He broke down the operation into divisions of paramedics, nurses, doctors, psychologists and the traders giving names of the few he knew.
He had days when he would go in for a normal shift and he didn’t have to do anything illegal. On the days he was to do his illegal duties, he’d get an SMS with an address hours before his shift. He’d go in with another paramedic when the call came in. Alternatively, a call would come in for help and then he’d get a message for a particular organ that was required.
He had to drug the patient and decide when to declare them dead. The other paramedic would sometimes be in the know and other times they’d be none the wiser. Lonwabo then had to report to listed doctors or alert a certain doctor to take over a certain patient. If a doctor wasn’t in place they had to put a nurse on guard and in charge of medicating the patient. Some doctors lost patients and were unaware that they killed off living patient. They would sometimes see signs or symptoms that suggest that the patient had a chance but then the hospital would suggest the machine be switched off and patients be moved to the morgue at once in a lot of cases because a family member had signed off on it. Other staff members carried on the operation and performed surgeries at the morgue or a site outside the hospital to remove organs and send them to their buyers.
Lonwabo divorced Nosi when he saw that he was going to jail for a long time. Doctor Roberts skipped the country but he was posted on border controls as a person of interest so he couldn’t go far. He was found in Kenya and taken into custody and transferred back home. He died in jail from what is believed to be a suicide. The whole operation showed its face in paper trails at the hospital but then lost traces in most places. One could see there were places where mistakes were made and then covered up but the evidence was there and many hospitals staff were arrested. People who bought the organs testified when they were granted immunity and they named leaders and sellers of the trade.
That is how Chanel Naidoo’s murder was solved and her family went to the house to perform the ceremony. Swami Ramlutchman was the purohit/pandit that Joanne brought with her to perform the ceremony. He lit a lamp and an incense stick while chanting a series of devotional prayers known as pooja and singing hymns. An altar like shrine was created in Luthando’s where sacrificial food, fruits and sweets were included as offerings to the ceremony. After the food was shared by the Moodleys and Naidoos as Chanel was their child.
At that time Luthando and Mangaliso were talking of getting married and Sibusiso could now see that Portia wasn’t crazy. Mangaliso and Luthando had an emotional farewell when the pandit started chanting the prayer asking Chanel’s spirit to go home and rest. They were crying and clinging to each other. Joanne had to speak to Chanel about how she died and that her murder was solved. She shared memories of their times at the house and asked Chanel to leave the house and open it up to its new owners.
Right after Joanne’s speech Luthando fainted and Portia took her to Ma Gesi’s house while Sibusiso and Mangaliso found a flat to rent. The Ngwenya family had to wait for approval from the pastor on when they could move back to their house. When Luthando woke up the next day she had no memory of the events since they moved in the house. All she remembered was her life before they moved into the new house.
After two weeks the pastor said they could move back into the house so Mangaliso and Sibusiso moved back. Portia was back at work and Luthando was staying with her at Ma Gesi’s. They moved back home when Portia had proof that Sibusiso was referred to the estate agent by a business associate and that he was in no way involved in the organ trade. Portia asked Mangaliso about Chanel because she had fears of Luthando being pregnant if they had had sex but Mangaliso assured her it hadn’t gone that far. Their love was a meeting of souls across two different lifetimes.
Back at the house when Portia took a walk into the garden she discovered a blooming white rose. She couldn’t say Chanel had left them completely untouched because Mangaliso had dreams about her. It seemed it would take time for him to move on but luckily his relationship with his sister remained untainted. Portia now had dreams about clues in cases she worked on or she dreamt about things and they happened exactly like in her dreams while Luthando never regained any memory of life during the Chanel phase.
The Ngwenya family made new memories in their home and made family a priority. Glove Drive became less lonely as the neighbours opened up to them and Nosi, Abigail, Ma Gesi, the Naidoos and Moodleys came around for a gathering every now and then. The Moodleys and Naidoos were forever grateful to the Ngwenyas for bringing peace to their home and that led to a bond between the three families. Chanel’s sister even made contact with her dad again because she could now see that he didn’t kill their mom or Chanel. News spread far and wide about how the Chanel Naidoo case was solved. It sparked a debate whether spirits live amongst people and if the different traditional methods used do bring peace to the souls that haven’t crossed over. Portia kept white roses all around the house since the garden was blooming with them. Portia and Ma Gesi were invited to universities and other events to give talks on the power of dreams and spirituality. Portia now always echoed Mangaliso’s words that the soul sees beyond what the eyes can comprehend.