Friday, August 17, 2007

Apartheid, Durban Brother's Rehabilitation and Koffiefontein De Beers Roundup, 1988.

< 1988. Esslemonts at a Mackintosh Xmas Do: "Mackintosh" farm, Cato Ridge.

Fraser lodged at a Durban Mental Health halfway-house, Windermere Road. A ruse by Addington to certify Fraser? Daily, he walked or bussed to occupational therapy at Addington. Fraser got drunk at Wagon Wheels Hotel, Florida Road, falling on his face. While Fraser's scabrous face healed at Addington, matron moaned, "Bed space!..."

Social-worker said, "Fraser'll be a hobo." Chief psychiatrist and doctors avoided me. I made an appointment to see Fraser's physiotherapist. She didn't arrive.

The halfway-house social-worker said, "People like Fraser err during rehabilitation..." Durban Mental Health didn't want Fraser anymore, despite a Durban protected environment being ideal placement for Fraser. I made appointments to see the soulless Mental Health director, and waited outside his office for hours. He avoided me, and only replied to my letters, after I appealed to his common humanity.

Addington had fucked up Fraser with neuroleptic brain damage, and had crippled him. When Fraser's curator and I bailed up Addington's accountant in his hospital office, the smarmy Durban North accountant avoided court-action, by waiving Fraser's two year hospital bill. Fraser's curator completed the sale of Fraser's home, and invested Fraser's money.

Without my knowledge and consent, Addington psychiatrist certified Fraser to Town Hill Hospital, Pietermaritzburg. After I complained, he wrote: "My team certified Fraser - a team decision. Fraser's Addington rehabilitation has failed. He's a danger to himself and others. His judgement is poor and he lacks insight into his condition. His rehabilitation would be better effected at Town Hill Hospital." (Paraphrased). That pscho-jargon would prove to be bullshit.

I learnt a magistrate could certify a patient, if one or two doctors provided documentation. There was no legal requirement to consult the patient or family, nor was legal representation required for the patient or family. Psychiatrists could legally do what they liked in apartheid SA, without knowledge or consent by a patient's family. Never mind brain damaged, outraged Fraser being locked away for years at Town Hill, having his human rights violated with incarcerated retards, madmen, drug addicts, criminals and murderers. Certified Fraser became a state-funded President's Patient, and his Town Hill stay wouldn't cost Fraser and me one cent.

The actions / inaction of nurses, doctors, psychiatrists, physiotherapists, hospital accountants, social-workers, magistrates and mental health management showed contempt for Fraser and me. We were enemies to be avoided, patronized, manipulated and abused.

Had Fraser lived with us, he would've caused financial, emotional and social hassles for me and my family. Arse-sniffing guilt spoored me, but I couldn't expect Leah to raise our family and nurse Fraser while I worked.

Unrest: Black youth Stompie Seipei was hit in Winnie Mandela's Soweto home by members of her Mandela United Football Club (Fred Bridgeland, Katiza's Journey, Beneath the Surface of South Africa's Shame, Sidgwick & Jackson, London, 1997.) Some said Winnie had led assaults. (Winnie denied it at later trials). Stompie vanished from Winnie's home: killed in strange circumstances. In 2003, Winnie was found guilty of fraud.

Trust Feeds massacre, New Hanover: 11 Zulus killed by cops. (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa Report, Vol 3, Macmillan, London, 1999.)

The day I left Koffiefontein, I asked Ballon why I hadn't been paid my promised Koffiepit money. Ballon steepled his podgy fingers in his oak furnished office and said, "Off teaching eh? Payrolls will include your Koffiepit pay with your pension contributions and leave pay when you leave. When I job interviewed you, I said you'd do job evaluation, then IR. We planned fast-tracking you to Stellenbosch next year on an IR course."

"I wanted to do training. Personnel is boring, especially IR, not as stimulating as teaching. The articles I wrote and published in Koffiepit, and the job descriptions I wrote would fill a couple of books."

De Beers kept its contributions to Leah's and my pensions for two decades, before considering payment to us. It took a year and several letters from East London to German-GM before my Koffiepit pay arrived. Koffiepit continued as a community newspaper in post -apartheid Koffiefontein. In 2002, Ballon developed colon cancer, and retired early to his million Rand Knysna beach cottage. German-GM started Transvaal's new Venetia Mine, then became Premier / Cullinan Mine's GM.

De Beers strength was that, aged 37, I'd equitably worked with non -whites for four years during apartheid. Had I not left white teaching, I'd never have worked equitably with non-whites in SA. I also played multi-racial hockey and acted in multi-racial shows with coloureds, which I never did in the rest of apartheid SA. I reckoned De Beers management was superior to any teaching management I knew. We'd lived Rhodes's and Oppenheimers' De Beers heritage, and Jake was a De Beers boy, born in Kleinzee, baptized in Koffiefontein beneath the Diamond Cross.

By 2008 Koffiefontein Mine was sold to a company of ex De Beers and Koffiefontein people.

1 comment:

Mark JS Esslemont said...

I received an email from South African Friends of Beth Hatefutsoth, asking for information about Jews who lived in Koffiefontein when I was there: research on Jewish Life in SA Country Communities.