Thursday, August 30, 2007

Apartheid, More 1993 Unrest and Namaqualand Trek


1993. Esslemonts on a Kleinzee holiday.


On 01/07/1993, our fifteenth wedding anniversary, the top of the municipal building at the bottom of Oxford Street blasted off while I bought champagne. I was too deaf to hear the explosion. When I saw Xhosa toyi-toying by, I asked a shopkeeper. "Was that a bomb?" He nodded.

I wandered amongst rejoicing Xhosa, while stunned white workers gathered in a carpark for a headcount. No one was killed. The roof was gone, windows were shattered, and computer paper hung from a high window. The bombing wasn't mentioned in the media: just another bomb. We became used to bombs.

Another time, while Jake and I walked down Oxford Street a bomb-squad cop moved us on while hanging green security-tape across the road. Blacks rejoiced in the streets again, as APLA was busy, sneaking in from Transkei. Jake got used to bomb-drills, called fire-drills at Selborne Primary. We also did fire-drills at Selborne College.

On holiday, we camped at Augrabies Falls, the great, granite, grumbling cataract on the Orange River. Near an RC mission, while passing a bakkie, I rolled my Golf into sand on the roadside. Jake and I hung upside-down, suspended by our seatbelts. Leah and Luke sprawled on the roof behind. ''Get out!" I yelled, thinking of fire.

Klindts of Karamaam desert ranch stopped their bakkie, and helped us load our belongings into their bakkie. Leah and boys went to Karamaam while I waited for a tow-truck for my bashed skorrokorro. Kakamus Afrikaner mechanics fixed my skorrokorro.

Driving along a sandy road to Karamaam, I admired a bloody sunset. A social weaver birds' nest hung in a kameeldoringboom near Klindt's ranch-gate. Jake had seen an ox brained with Klindt's .22 pistol. Klindt braaied ox meat and said, "Dis so stil hier, jy kan jouself hoor dink."

After Springbok, we glided down Spektakelberg Pass and ghosted through sandveld. Jake sang. "We three kings of..."

"Want wee! Want wee!.." chanted Luke to sandveld.

At Kleinzee, we showed Jake the hospital where he was born. A new final-recovery plant had been built in the mine area. A new access -road from Port Nolloth road had been made to Dreyerspan, so migrant-workers were no longer hostelled behind security-fences. Xhosa wives were still forbidden at Kleinzee.

Seven years after we'd left, Kleinzee was full of strangers, as most whiteys we'd known had left. We looked at Kleinzee museum, and showed Jake xerophytes on Buffels banks. I showed Jake my Bushmen koppie, where we collected Bushmen artifacts. Imoya whispered over dunes, and I heard Strike barking.

We told Jake about strandveld steenbokke, jackals, meerkatte and the mine seal-colony. We told Jake about skunks, chanting-goshawks, secretary-birds and ostriches keeping their trotting distances when I'd jogged around Kleinzee golf course. I told Jake about the brown hyena, which I'd jogged into one foggy night on Buffels bank.

On the beach, our boys chased gulls, plovers, sandpipers, and we heard blacksmith plovers sing, "Ting-ting-ting-ting..." Near kelp heaps we searched for shells. Fishing and yachting clubhouses hadn't changed. Poseidon Cape wreck was seven years rustier.

Back at Worm City, our white Panelbeater sacked a Xhosa worker who'd thieved from clients' cars. The sacked Xhosa took Panelbeater to court, claiming unfair dismissal. Panelbeater won the case, then received threatening phone-calls. His employer environment wasn't unusual.

More 1993 Unrest: East Rand Massacres: According to Daniel Reed, Beloved Country, South Africa's Silent Wars, BBC Books, London, 1994: "More than 500 black South Africans had died there in the first few weeks of July alone:" in Katlehong and Tokoza townships, in fighting between ANC and Inkatha hostel dwellers.

According to John Allen (Editor) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, The Rainbow People of God, Bantam, London, 1995: "Between 2 and 13 July, more than 220 people died in violence on the East Rand, east of Johannesburg, and at least fifty in Natal."

July, Cape Town, Saint James Church: 11 whites killed by APLA. (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of SA Report, Vol 3, Macmillan, London, 1999).

August, American lass Biehl, stoned and stabbed dead by Pan African Organization tsotsis in Guguletu. (Ibid TRC, Vol 3).

Drive-by attack on Highgate Hotel near home. Again! Security-men escaped injury when a dud RPG bounced off the pub wall.

We avoided trekking through puppet Transkei roadblocks, as puppet Holomisa hosted APLA terrorists in Transkei who chanted, "One settler one bullet... Kill the farmer kill the Boer..." while conscript soldiers and cops continued township patrols throughout SA.

October, Umtata: Authorized by De Klerk, 5 APLA Xhosa youths killed by SADF. (Ibid TRC, Vol 2). I was standing by BC's photocopy machine when I heard of that horror. Constantly reported massacres numbed us. I worked and tried to ignore the terror, as if annihilation wasn't an everyday occurrence. Although I was deaf, imoya howled in my head. Death winds blew and Leah and I felt them. Lucky and Koffie carried on barking.

Mandela and De Klerk were joint-awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. (Martin Meredith, Nelson Mandela, A Biography, Hamish Hamilton, London, 1997). Mandela imprisoned for 27 years, a lawyer and trained MK terrorist, had stimulated De Klerk, a lawyer, to start a new constitution and abolish apartheid laws. Meanwhile thousands of Azanians died. Norwegians had strange peace ideas.

As communist regimes like Mozambique and Tanzania had failed in Africa, and as kommuniste had been demonized for decades by SA media, Afrikaner Nat politicians and securocrats, why did Afrikaner Nat politicians like De Klerk sell SA so cheaply to communist trained terrorists in the SACP / ANC?

December, Cape Town, Heidelberg Tavern: 4 whites killed. (Ibid TRC, Vol 3).

According to Brian Frost, Struggling to Forgive, HarperCollins, London, 1998, referring to the 1984 mutiny in ANC's Bango camp in Angola, the Motsoanyane Commission reported 70 mutineers were "executed, beaten to death, committed suicide, or died of natural causes in ANC camps. Also 200 ANC camp members were reported missing." Mutineers were tired of fighting Savimbi's UNITA blacks, instead of killing whites in SA.

1993. Esslemonts at 294 Freemantle Road, Durban.


After braving trekking through Transkei, on N2 freeway we avoided being stoned from overhead -bridges near Umgababa, Natal South Coast, on our way to Durbs.

There were black boycotts of white businesses, and taxi wars between rival taxi owners.

Selborne teachers often drove sports teams through King Williams Town. Sometimes East London ~ King Williams Town / Bisho highway was blockaded by taxis. On such days we avoided King Williams Town.

My matric results compared well with other teachers', who had their own labs in which to teach. I didn't wear my behind-the-ear hearing -aid while teaching, as I felt the less insolent boys knew of my deafness the better. My analogue hearing-aid was expensive and useless. It stayed in my pocket at school. When boys asked what the lump in my pocket was I replied, "My skorrokorro." My hearing-aid amplified background noise, which stopped effective hearing. I learnt lip-reading, body language and intuition.

In December 1993, we applied for NZ residence. As NZ had no embassy in SA, we posted our application to London NZ embassy.

PAC / APLA's "Year of the Great Storm" was over.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

1 comment:

Mark JS Esslemont said...

Expat email about the terror of driving from King Williams Town to East London at night:

"In the Eastern Cape (the road from King to EL) and in the Western Cape (the section from S/West to Cape Town) they used to dangle a brick at the end of a rope off the overbridges (at windscreen height) ...possibly worse than the klipgooi versions! We never encountered one, but travelling from KWT at night was always a tense trip and we would take extra pillows in the car to shield the girls from breaking glass, etc. Probably wouldn't have stood a chance, but it made the journey manageable."