To avoid chores at home, Mathabane starts spending time roaming Alexandra with a “gang” of boys between six and eight years old. They admire the tsotsis in their sharp suits and shiny shoes, and sometimes hunt for empty beer bottles to sell to illicit bars. Whenever the boys have money, they use it to watch violent white films at a local cinema, full of gladiators, mobsters, and soldiers killing each other. With no other knowledge of the white world, Mathabane imagines that it must all be full of gladiators, guns, and rampant violence. He begins to think that segregation is a good thing if it keeps him separate and safe from such a world.
Mathabane’s initial involvement with his gang arises simply from a desire to escape work, demonstrating how innocently gang affiliation can arise. His belief that the violent films are accurate depictions of the white world—which thus increases his fear of white people—suggests that ignorance and fear contribute heavily to one’s personal prejudice, creating such antagonism that an awful practice like segregation can seem reasonable.