…Idewu waited nervously near the old European cemetery. The lateness of the hour and the darkness played tricks on his mind and he began to imagine all those dead Europeans rising from their graves and chasing him. He nearly had heart failure when the unsavoury character from the marketplace grabbed his shoulder from behind.
The two men had walked but a short distance along the Enube Bridge Road when an old Datsun taxi stopped and picked them up. In addition to the driver one other man sat in the vehicle, but Idewu wasn’t introduced to either one and so the journey continued in silence.
They hadn’t travelled more than a mile when the driver pulled on to the forecourt of a large, out-of-town hardware store. The store’s night watch approached, exchanged some words with the driver of the taxi and then disappeared into the darkness.
“OK, this is it, everyone out,” said the unsavoury character.
“A hardware store? What is there of value here?” said Idewu.
“There is a safe inside with the day’s takings. It could amount to over two hundred pounds,” said the driver. “So shut up and do as you are told!”
Idewu’s part in the burglary required him to keep watch at the front of the building and warn the others if any traffic or pedestrians came along the road. The other three men disappeared around the back to where they intended get into the offices by means of a rear door that the night watch had arranged with one of the staff to be left unbolted.
All commercial premises and most private houses in Nibana had anti-theft bars fitted to window openings. Very often wooden doors would be reinforced with steel plates to prevent them from being smashed open. Therefore, to successfully carry out a burglary, it required an insider who would ‘inadvertently’ leave a door unlocked or some other means of entry for the thieves.
No one came along the road to disturb the thieves and within forty-five minutes they had finished. The night watch returned to collect his cut and that of the staff member who’d left the door unlocked. Moments later, Idewu and the thieves departed in the taxi.
“What about the night watch? He will be sacked the moment they realise the place has been robbed,” said Idewu from the back seat of the taxi.
“He will say he was praying,” retorted the driver. “The white manager will know the night watch could not have left the door unlocked because he has no access to the building. The manager will soon work out it must have been an inside job. It will take weeks to sort it out. You know how well we Nibanans can string white men along. In the end the manager will get fed up and employ additional night watches. Anyway, the old boy we saw tonight is due for retirement soon, so he will not be worried.”
“Oh, I see,” said Idewu, rather feebly.
They dropped Idewu and the unsavoury character off at the cemetery and the Datsun headed into town.
Idewu’s companion gave him twenty pounds and said if he wished, Idewu could accompany them on more robberies. Idewu said he would think about it and meet his companion in the market at the usual place the following afternoon to discuss his further involvement…