Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Apartheid Kleinzee, Son's Birth and Some 1986 Unrest

1985. Leah Esslemont, Augrabies Gorge, Bushmanland

25/04/1986. Son Jake, desert hard, daisy soft, was born in the white section of Kleinzee Hospital. It rained after midnight when Jake was born, and the doctor wore jeans without the usual doctor garb. Jake was born bald with a strawberry birthmark (which grew then receded over the years). After the doctor stitched Leah, I stood by Jake's incubator, holding his little pink hand singing, "Go to sleep my little piccaninny..." Leah and Jake had a maternity ward to themselves, as few white babies were born in Kleinzee. The coloured maternity ward was full.

26/04/1986. Ukraine's Chernobyl nuclear reactor exploded, and the Soviet Union and "Total Onslaught" would soon collapse.

Duiwelsteen gave us a drop-side bed for Jake, which we used for years. When Duiwelsteen visited he scolded Leah, "You mustn't wash your hair until three weeks after Jake's born, as you'll get sick man." Three days after Leah's return to our Fifth Street home with Jake, Leah returned to hospital with anaemia and high blood pressure. When Duiwelsteen visited again he said, "Haai! Ek het vir jou gese!"

Unrest, May Day COSATU strike: 1500 000 people stayed away from work. (Alan Cowell, Killing The Wizards, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1992).

Lusaka, Harare, Gaberone: SADF raided ANC buildings in Front Line States. Like Nazi Goebbel's "Total War," defence minister Malan still jabbered about conscripts' "Total Strategy" fighting commies' "Total Onslaught." The snag with Botha's / Malan's white conscription was that there would never be enough white conscripts to defend apartheid against Soviet and Cuban commies in Angola, and SWAPO in SWA, and Marxists in Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and local kaffirs, communists and terrorists, so SA blacks, Indians, coloureds and white female volunteers were dragooned into SADF and SAP to protect whiteys from "Total Onslaught."

Kiwi Cavaliers, NZ mercenary rugby players toured SA, playing against Springboks, hard up for international matches. Anti-apartheid Kiwis righteously protested.

May Day and June 1986 national strikes commemorated 1976 Soweto riots.

After a NUM national strike, Sarel sent me to Dreyerspan to tell Boyce and blacks they weren't being paid for strike time. As SA was continually having bloody, murderous strikes, Sarel and Gallstone were scared of giving bad news themselves. Fezile, Hlemele, shop -stewards and mine management had flown to Jo'burg for a collective -bargaining meeting with NUM's Ramaphosa and De Beers' managers. Collective wage bargaining wasted company time and money, as NUM negotiators jolled in expensive hotels, deadlocked negotiations, then flew back to Kleinzee, repeatedly, until wage agreement was reached. Wage negotiations were company paid junkets for management and well-paid union-members, while outcast blacks struggled.

I drove across Buffels wadi to security access-control. When I walked through the security- building, I never knew if security-staff (ex cops) would stop me, as they skulked behind one-way mirror glass. I walked to a garage near a mine dump, where a coloured man controlled pool vehicles, like buses, bakkies and minibuses.

In SA, overloaded taxis parked illegally, blocking traffic. Many taxis were unlicensed and unroadworthy, some were stolen. Black taxi-drivers used illegal drivers' licences and carried firearms. Disaffected taxi-drivers caused taxi-wars and freeway blockades by taxis.

If black mineworkers stood at the security-building bus-stop, I drove them to Dreyerspan. I waited for swart gevaar shop stewards, while they tumbled into my minibus - pissed. They'd returned from a Joeys junket and chanted, "Viva Mandela, viva Tambo, viva die ANC..." while I drove them to Dreyerspan. It was four years before De Klerk unbanned ANC, SACP, PAC. I wasn't paid "danger-money," like SAP cops who'd fought in Rhodesia's Bush War. Enduring pissed, hostile shop-stewards was just part of my job.

At Dreyerspan, black shop-stewards staggered off to their barrack rooms. "No work, no pay," I said.

"For shore Mak," said Boyce. "That's OKee. No pee. For shore."

The June 1986 State-of-Terror would continue till 1990. (Alan Cowell, Why Are They Weeping? South Africans Under Apartheid, Stewart, Taboriand, Chang, New York, 1988).

July: Pass Laws were abolished for blacks. My "pass" was my ID "Book of Life." (Ibid Cowell, 1992).

ANC's coloured McBride car-bombed Durban Magoos Bar: Whites were killed. (Kader Asmal, et al, Reconciliation Through Truth, David Philip, Cape Town, 1997). ANC wanted to kill security-personnel from nearby Natal Command in Magoos Bar. Never mind civilians. McBride and Zondo, Amanzimtoti bomber, were arrested, both becoming remorseful about civilian deaths after capture. Were they remorseful when placing bombs? Couldn't they imagine the carnage? McBride was gaoled. Zondo was hung.

If ANC terrorists wanted to kill-security personnel, Natal Command was walking distance from Magoos Bar, and Durban Law Courts and cop flats were spitting distance from Natal Command. But terrorists avoided soldiers and cops ne? McBride and ANC terrorists chose to kill civilians, making SA ungovernable.

Post-apartheid, McBride became chief of East Rand Metropolitan Police.

Puppet KwaNdebele: 9 Ndebele were killed by cops (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa Report, Vol 2, Macmillan, London, 1999).

At a Kleinzee coloured church service, Leah, Jake and I were the only whites congregants, listening to Rev. Hendrickse preaching about crabs. He acted the way crabs walked sideways, mocking Nat. politicians, while coloured kids laughed. Hendrickse, MP in the Tricameral Parliament revved up Nazi sympathizer president Botha, by illegally swimming at a whites-only beach, before media photographers. In 1987 Hendrickse would resign from Botha's cabinet over persistent Group Areas. (Sean Moroney, Editor, Africa Volumes 1, 2, Facts on File, New York, 1989).

1986. Mark Esslemont as Dumb Troopie in 'Razzle Dazzle', Kleinzee Rec Club. Others l to r: Liz Hofmeyer teacher, Brian Benetto rec club manager, Pete Cohoe De Beers pilot


Bismarck in Tainan said...

I was in primary school, Port Shepstone Senior Primary (Std 4), at the time of the Magoo's Bar bombing. I went to school with a guy called Dax Lamb, whose father was apparently the owner at the time of the bombing.

Mark JS Esslemont said...

Thanks Bismarck. I travelled through Port Shepstone many times. Holidayed nearby at Southport as a kid. Early 1970s, I knew two teacher friends at Port Shepstone High School. One was later carjack-murdered in Durban. Last time I visited Durban beachfront, early 1995, it was a rubbish-polluted mess. Reported to be worse now.