Friday, January 4, 2008

2008. Apartheid Durban & Kleinzee, 1978-86, Black Mark Trekking 1978 - 1986


< 1978. Esslemonts & Mackintoshes, Mark Esslemont's wedding, Saint Martins, Chelsea Drive, Durban North.


01.07.78. Mom and Fraser attended my wedding at St. Martins, Chelsea Drive, Durban North. Leah and I honeymooned in Malawi and bought ebony carvings. Fraser wasn't interested in marriage, while jolling with fishing and booze-buddies, including Jason.

< 1978. Ebony family, Blantyre, Malawi.


From 1978, Leah taught at Tomlinson's Pre-primary, Northdene, for three years. I taught general-science and biology at co-ed Hillcrest High, my happiest teaching years, as I had my own laboratory. I coached rugby and cricket, and produced short plays. I directed Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest. I refused to coach cadets. Black Mark.

<1980. Fraser, Valmai, Mark Esslemont, 294 Freemantle Road, Hillary, Durban. "From his reason fall'n"


1981. While Fraser continued working in Standard Bank, boozing during weekends, and caring for mom in her retirement, Leah and I trekked overseas. We laboured in London, train-trekked Scotland (twice), toured Ireland, and Eurailed Europe.

1982. We worked at Grofit kibbutz, (which started my deafness), trekked Israel, then returned to SA. Despite my British passport, we didn't want to emigrate to Britain.

Durban: Over the next two years, Leah worked in 6 different schools. I taught at Glenwood HS, leading the general-science department and teaching mainly biology up to matric. I coached cricket, began a wildlife society, produced short plays, and inaugurated drama classes to all form three boys in the squash courts. The bullying headmaster and I didn't get on, as I didn't coach cadets nor rugby. Black Marks.

After staying with Leah's folks, we used our reimbursed pensions, which Leah and I'd saved while we were overseas, to buy a Montclair three-bedroom duplex, near Montclair Pick 'n Pay. Natal Education Department subsidized my mortgage payments.

During the early 80s, unrest increased. Durban oil refinery was attacked. Durban Esplanade was car-bombed, near Leah's John Ross House infant school. Townships became ungovernable. Necklacing murders increased. White businesses and transport were boycotted. Many South Africans died.

Mom found out she had cancer. Zulu nurse-aide, Edna Rasmini live in mom's khaya, and nursed mom during the last months of mom's life. Doctors' chemotherapy toxins proved useless. Mom died in Addington Hospital.

Before dying, mom had organized her own memorial service in St. Martins. Mom was cremated, then her ashes were put in a marble covered niche in a wall near Stellawood Cemetery main gate, far from family graves, according to her wishes.

Fraser's and my inheritance: Fraser kept mom's 22 Chelsea Drive home, continuing living there, partying and sporting with booze -buddies. To divide our inheritance equally, Fraser obtained a mini-mortgage from Standard Bank, on mom's house. In hindsight, Barclays Bank executor's mortgage advice was stupid, as it made money for Standard Bank, but eventually hurt Fraser and me.

We disposed of mom's chattels. I inherited mom's money, enabling Leah and me to buy a three-bedroom house at 21 Heron Way, Yellowwood Park, which we rented out. Over the next five years, tenants gave us a nice income.

We never lived in our Durban, 21 Heron Way mortgaged home.

<1983. Mark Esslemont's standard 6 (y8) class, Durban.


Jealous of Fraser's inheritance, raging drunk Jason broomstick- stabbed holes in Fraser's lounge ceiling. Jason supervised Zulu brickworkers at Coronation brickworks: "I keep a loaded, double- barrel, pump-action shotgun in my office," sneered Jason, "in case kaffirs riot." Jason had been a state president's guard during his national service.

Once, Jason chain-locked Fraser's garage gate, making Fraser late for work. Black Mark.

As Leah and I were dissatisfied with our Durban jobs, we obtained primary school teaching jobs about 1400 kays westwards at De Beers Kleinzee diamond mine, on strandveld Diamond Coast, as far from sweltering Durban as possible.

Kleinzee population: 4000. Kleinzee: Built on the south bank of Buffels wadi. Grootmis dorp sprawled on Buffels wadi north bank. Kleinzee Main Street separated white and coloured housing areas. The shopping centre was used by everyone.

We lived in a three-bedroom, concrete-block house at 4 Fifth Street. We had Afrikaner, Namaqualander and resident skunk neighbours. Our Afrikaans improved.

Kleinzee fauna included wild ostriches, jackals, bat-eared foxes, hares, brown hyenas, steenbokke, southern hemisphere's biggest fur seal colony, seagulls, blacksmith plovers, secretary birds, chanting goshawks...

When rains came Namaqualand daisies bloomed...

Black Mark: After a year's teaching, and squabbling with my Afrikaner paedophile boss, who later fled to Ceres, I transferred to Kleinzee personnel department. As personnel officer, I wrote job descriptions. Sometimes I acted in my boss's manpower officer job, administering personnel records for hundreds of black migrant-workers, who bussed in periodically from Transkei Sterkspruit district, 1000 kays away, on regular work contracts. Black migrant-workers lived in Dreyerspan hostel, deep in the mine area, behind barbed wire fences. Black migrant-workers' families stayed in their homelands.

Indian, coloured and white employees' families lived in Kleinzee. Some coloured employees' families lived in Kommagas, Steinkopf and other coloured dorpe. During our Kleinzee stay, unrest increased, States-of-Terror were declared, and many South Africans died.

Using our Durban duplex sale profit, we bought two land plots at Pringle Bay, extremity of False Bay, about 100 kays from Cape Town. Pringle Bay was undeveloped, inhabited by dassies and leopards near looming Hottentots Holland Hangklip, covered in fynbos, proteas and leucadendrons.

Our son Jake was born in Kleinzee Hospital in the white ward. Few white babies were born in Kleinzee. More coloured babies were born in the coloured ward.

< 1986. Mark & Jake Esslemont, Strike & Lucky, 4 Fifth Street, Kleinzee, SA. Sons of darkness and light.


Standard Bank accused Fraser and an Indian of theft. Black Marks.

The Indian was the thief. Fraser was acquitted, but Standard Bank later retrenched Fraser. SA was in recession. Fraser couldn't find another job. Standard Bank closed Fraser's bank accounts, but kept his last will and testament, while threatening to sell his 22 Chelsea Drive home to reclaim his mortgage. Thanks for a decade's loyal service from Fraser.

Financially I couldn't help Fraser, as Leah no longer worked. I was still paying off our Durban, 21 Heron Way mortgage. And the Tax Man harassed me for provisional tax. Black Mark.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Tourist's Impressions of Kleinzee Diamond Mining.

2 comments:

Mark JS Esslemont said...

January 2008 email from Switzerland:

"...It was a special experience indeed to visit Kleinzee - everything looked so well behaved and clean, but it felt also strange. And the barb wired accommodation for migrant workers, in the mine site, was still there."

Mark JS Esslemont said...

Years later, when I asked a Durban Standard Bank manager why Standard Bank had treated Fraser so badly, the manager replied:

"...I have never really had much to do with the Human Resources chaps. I would have assisted, where possible, if approached by you or the lawyer regarding Fraser's affairs at the time. The personnel managers from that time have all retired..."