Thursday, September 20, 2007
2007. Post Apartheid SA - NZ, 1999, SA Dispatch and Family, NZ Pig Dog
< 1999. Esslemonts, Rose Garden, Christchurch Botanic Gardens.
Alleman's February 1999 dispatch: "Elderly (especially on farms) assaulted and maimed daily. Headline: 'Lightning kills Transkei child.' His family butchered another family of 5, including women and children, as they believed his family bewitched the lightning. In Richmond, the army tries to stop the politico-butchering of blacks - 11 shot dead in one house, babies as well. Killing is out of control. If you open your front door, you're shot, and your home gets stripped.
Some hospitals closed in the Free State, as provincial government was financially overdrawn, and collapsed. Local matric results were massively raised to hide that education hadn't collapsed. Our local black school's matric pass is officially 42%, but it's really under 20%. Many subjects were condoned. Black pupils got 'free' percentage points, because it's 'unfair' to study and write in a non home language. Although I'm an Afrikaner, I wrote all my school exams in English. Average percentages for matric '98 for all schools (most 'white' schools still attain 100% pass): English second language HG-40%; Maths HG-34%; Maths SG-21%; Science HG-36%; Science SG-32%; Biology HG-28%; Biology SG-26%; Geography HG-27%; Accounting HG-35%; Typing SG-37%.
Big skills shortage, and emigrants still leave in droves. 'Immigrants' from Nigeria (many drug dealers), Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Congo arriving. Some suburbs overrun by Nigerians. Remember Muizenberg? If you want to sell, you won't be able to give your property away. Muizenberg hotels are all closed. Most tourist shops closed. One chemist shop open. In Cape Town, there's urban war between police and radical Muslim groups - army called in.
I'm on the Koffiefontein council, and we're trying to get people to register to vote in the upcoming election. Only 1 million of the 24 million eligible voters in SA are registered. Our council cut off electricity and water to government buildings including schools, police, agriculture, welfare. Since agriculture was behind in rent we locked them out. Chaos!
Many roads are not being maintained. Some Eastern Cape farm roads are only usable by 4x4s. Government vets are unable to test cattle for contagious diseases in the Free State, as they're trying to teach blacks to farm. Result may be that Free State farmers won't export cattle. A Scottish learner-mining-engineer was caught drug-pushing in Kimberley. Old Mutual is demutualizing (Sanlam did months ago). I got a letter saying I'm entitled to R20 000 free Old Mutual shares by years' end."
Leah's mom lived alone in her 294 Freemantle Road, Mount Vernon home, where she'd lived for 36 apartheid years. Chatsworth Indians bought houses around her. Tenants in her home weren't an option, as the law had changed, favouring tenants. Her post box was rifled by tsotsis. She feared door-knockers, as elderly people were attacked in their homes. She burglar-guarded windows. She had security-gates installed inside and outside her house. She feared gardening, which she'd enjoyed for years. She sold her home to Indians, who replaced her picket fence with a concrete wall and razor-wire. It was the land Leah's granddad had bought, and Leah's dad was born there, and he'd lived his entire life there.
Leah's mom moved to a Pennington motel, where she lived with her sister and brother-in-law, who'd fortified the motel he'd bought. Leah's sister Jay was mugged in 'Maritzburg. She also escaped carjacking by accelerating along a car verge, and cell-phoning for help. Her health deteriorated. Her son's company car was wrecked, when a car escaping carjackers crashed into it. Tired of Zulus shitting in his Umbilo garden, Leah's uncle Rob sold his home and also moved to Pennington. Rob got liver cancer and died in Jo'burg.
Leah's brother Gee's home was burgled. He trekked between Jo'burg and Congo as a rough diamond dealer. Leah's sister Beb's unemployed husband considered working in PE and flying home to Durban every three weeks. He got a job in 'Maritzburg, driving daily from Durban. Leah's cousin survived rape by a Zulu robber, who tried gnawing her finger off to steal her ring. The Zulu's coloured mate stopped the rape, and locked her in a cupboard. Another cousin's car was stolen in Durban. AK-47s rattled in townships at night.
Despite misgivings, we'd made a safe immigration decision, as Christchurch was peaceful. Shops near our Oaklands home had no burglar-guards and burglar-guards in Oaklands homes were unheard of. We needed permission from Pretoria before we applied for NZ citizenship, otherwise we'd lose our SA citizenship. We'd lost our birthright to postal-vote in SA elections, as SA didn't allow postal -voting for expats. I complained to our honorary-consul who said, "Monetary constraints. Hopefully 2004 will be different."
A year after our arrival, we'd swotted NZ road rules, including peculiar turning rules, and got our NZ drivers' licences. Three years later, we had to get our green-card photo-drivers'-licences, again doing written and oral tests. Two years later, Leah had to get another photo-licence. Ditto me, five years later - all costly. Who had access to the Land Transport NZ, national data-base storing our digital -photos and medical and personal details?
Road-kill possums polluted NZ roads. Garden hedgehogs were the most dangerous beasts we met. Dole-bludging gangsters were sometimes mentioned in the media, but the most dangerous NZ adult we met was our neighbour, a bowl-playing pansy-man. Another neighbour, Vietnam veteran, mowed my berm, as his dog shat on our grass. Another teacher neighbour was a croquet champion.
Kiwis complained a lot. Some were proud of being 1981 Springbok tour protestors. Maori sometimes invaded council parks, or protest -marched on parliament. Women customers bollocked teenagers trying to learn their fast-food jobs. Kiwis complained if they couldn't buy gardening products during public holidays. They wandered about spraying poisons: polluting berms and swales. Jasmine, Japanese honeysuckle, kaffir lilies were Mainland noxious weeds. Sprayed areas in our local park resembled sandveld, as council herbicides stained the soil pink. Berms, ditches, park fences were swathed with dead grass, poisoned orange. Kiwis massacred wild pigs, deer, exotic weeds, insects and fungi. 1080 poison killed rabbits, cyanide killed possums. Farmers illegally introduced a virus, killing more rabbits - effective briefly. Akaroa shell-fishing was sometimes stopped due to biotoxin water pollution.
While Leah taught SLD students, I played many parts: definite Deaf Man; Deaf Husband; Deaf Dad; Dad's Taxi; Mechanic; Odd Jobber; Bookkeeper; Housekeeper; Launderer; Cook; Cleaner; Gardener; Compost Boss; Fisherman; Writer; Wraith. And Pig Dog.
< 1999. Esslemont Brothers, Oaklands, Christchurch.
When friends invited us to their Little River bog-farm, I offered to bring wine, but the farmer's wife who'd lived all her life on the farm said, "Bring yourwa gumboots?"
When I drove past a Little River paddock Luke said, "I've seen an elephant." There stood a circus white elephant, browsing far from home.
Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.