Mark is used to being woken up in the middle of the night due to police raids.
His mother wakes him up one night and teases him when he assumes the police are there. She's woken him up so they can go somewhere, but it's a surprise.
They leave without breakfast. Merriam is strapped to Mama's back, and she holds Maria and George's hands. Florah follows behind, and Mark behind Florah. Every so often, they would stop to rub their frozen feet and hands.
They arrive in Granny's yard. Granny runs out to greet them, crying, "Thank God you've come." They've taken one of her sons, Piet, away. Piet is only thirteen, not old enough to carry a pass. But because he was unusually tall, he was arrested for not carrying a pass.
A neighbor had seen the police frisk him and had seen Mark try to explain that he lived there, but the police wouldn't listen and loaded him into their truck. Granny ran outside and saw the police truck. But unfortunately, they were stopping and asking for passes, and Granny's pass was not in order.
Mama is surprised. She thought they had given Granny permission to live in Alexandra.
Granny explains that since her husband died, they told her she would have to get married again in order to stay there.
Mama asks if Granny has money to get Piet out. Unfortunately, Granny used her last money to pay the children's school fees and rent.
But they know they can't leave him in jail, or let the state send him to work on the potato farms, where conditions were inhumane.
Granny and Mama spend the day begging and borrowing money from friends and relatives. They pawn some of Granny's belongings.
Then they go to the jail to get Piet, but there was a law that no black person can be released or tried on weekends, so they come back without him.
The next day, Piet is released with a warning, although he's younger than the age required to get a pass.
Granny takes Piet to school the next day, and the Principal writes a note to be carried at all times. The note stated he was a full-time student and only thirteen years old.
From then on, when the police arrested him despite the note, the Principal personally had to call before they would release him.