Wednesday, January 30, 2008

2008. Post Apartheid: Fraser Esslemont's 2000 Sunnyside Farm Dispatches


2000. Fraser Esslemont, Gardener, Sunnyside Farm, Bulwer, KwaZulu-Natal. "Now see that noble and most sovereign reason, like sweet bells jangled, out of time and harsh."


12.03.2000 Fraser's Sunnyside Farm dispatch: "Mark, I suggest use live bait, like limpets, when Jake and Luke go fishing at Wainui [near Akaroa]. Use metal spinners when fishing in fast flowing rivers, not lakes.

Mark, say well done to Jake for becoming a youth councillor. You are busy watching Luke play rugby at Hagley Park. [Leah and I'd endured cultural and sports boycotts during apartheid, and while travelling overseas we'd endured insinuations from strangers that we were racists. Our sons wouldn't have to endure that in NZ].

Mark, when you and Leah went to Israel to work on Grofit kibbutz (communal farm) did you keep any information on kibbutz life? Let me know please, any scrap of information, or what you remember. Bulwer Farm is battling with peoples motivation, so what you remember of kibbutz life will be helpful.

I'll come to NZ in 2010 0r 2012."

08.05.00 Fraser's Sunnyside Farm dispatch: "Its the first time I received a family photo album. In years to come, ill still be viewing photos of you and your family, with great pleasure. Im very grateful for the thoughtful gift. Please send some more photos next year.

Here in SA, our autumn is very rainy, almost nightly. By 2020 I think we will be used to hothouse effects. Please let me know how you recycle your compost and kitchen rubbish. The Kiwis as Islanders seem to produce a great deal more food per hectare than the spoilt South Africans.

Jakes form 4 can't be equivalent to our (SA) standard 8. [Roughly the same, depending on what's in the curriculum]. The same applies to Luke in standard 2. I've been working out their ages and standards. They will be ready for college and varsity at a younger age. [Not so, as NZ does year 13, equivalent to SA matric. NZ schools stretch curricula over 13 years, whereas SA schools complete schooling over 12 years ].

Ask Leah what SPELD means? [Specific Learning Disabilities]. She must be very good with children. I have respect and admiration for her. It's not easy work.

How often do the boys go fishing? Let me have photos of the boys catches. Im interested in what size and type. [Mainly red cod, spotty, parrot fish, dog fish and elephant fish in the Pacific, and trout in Alpine rivers and lakes].

Is Leah's mom at Pennington on Natal S. Coast? [Yes]. Its a lovely part of the coastline if you want to retire. I'm retiring to Somerset East. On TV news we saw a 120 year old woman at Somerset East close to PE in the E. Cape. We visited Somerset East when mom was alive.

Sunnyside Farm does take it out of me - energy sapping. I'm in bed by 8.00 pm and will retire when I'm 55 years old. Can you believe, ill get a state pension, because I work for Maritzburg Mental Health. [False, unless Fraser is broke].

Im looking forward to yearly photos. Mark, I won't buy a camera just yet. So I can reciprocate with photos of myself in the farming area. What camera should I buy? Instamamtics are not available here in Underberg. They were very good cameras then. Next time in Underberg, ill get a photo taken, so you can see what im like, as a farmer. Im more lined & grey haired. Its not easy - aging.

Remember ill be coming to see you in 2010.

15.05.00 P.S. I think ill first go to Comores Islands. The ship is a pleasure liner of the Indian Ocean. Then change ships at Perth Australia to get to NZ. Perhaps we could get cellular phones before then & ring each other, about a black bull, that eats your last remaining spinach, as one did here this morning."

Sadly Fraser lacked judgement regarding travel costs, especially cruising, which would bankrupt his estate in one cruise. It took me a while to ascertain how Fraser was cared for at Sunnyside Farm, which was run by Pietermaritzburg Mental Health. Fraser's Durban curator paid Sunnyside Farm monthly accommodation fees and pocket money for Fraser, out of Fraser's estate. Town Hill madhouse keepers visited Sunyside Farm monthly, and prescribed Fraser's medication. I'd received no correspondence from Town Hill since superintendent Dr. Ross's letter 5.5. years before. Dr. Ross stayed spitefully silent, despite my letters to him. He was an apartheid throwback, incapable of adapting to fairness and transparency expected by the post apartheid regime.

After my July 2000 enquiries, Sunnyside Farm manager assured me Fraser was OK. She described the attractiveness of Sunnyside Farm, and mentioned carbamazapine prescribed for Fraser, twice daily, preventing seizures. Fraser had had no seizures at Sunnyside Farm for two years.

After my inquiries, a Maritzburg Mental Health social worker sent me Town Hill Dr. Uilspieel's note, more than a year after it was scrawled on scruffy foolscap paper. Dr. Uilspieel misspelt my surname, and told me nothing new. He said Fraser had "organic brain syndrome," a meaningless label for any brain damage. Dr. Uilspieel paragraphed and gapped his note in a slapdash way. As Dr. Uilspieel couldn't spell Fraser's and my surname correctly, how did he care for Fraser? Regarding Fraser's carbamazapine prescription, Sunnyside Farm's reported 400 mg carbamazapine dose and Dr. Uilspieel' s reported 200 mg dose didn't gel. Someone was messing up Fraser's prescription. Or stealing drugs?

The social worker's flash-letterhead covering-letter made a better impression than Dr. Uilspieel's note. She said Fraser was doing well at Sunnyside Farm, enjoying gardening and Berg walks, sometimes getting lost in snowy mountains, with "clients" (patients) and staff having to search for him.

The social worker enclosed two snaps: Backdropped by Berg foothills, native bush, vegetable patch and wooden farm shed with corrugated iron roof, Fraser looked slim, fit and smiling. His right wrist and fingers were still clawed, but straighter. His neatly trimmed hair was still sandy, but grizzled on the sides. His right eyelid and brow drooped. He no longer wore glasses, and looked alert.

A remarkable transformation from when I'd last seen Fraser six years before at Town Hill. Then he was fat, bearded, unwashed, with skin infection. He was cowed by long detentions in the the forensic security block, closed wards and semen-smelly seclusion rooms, with plastic potty for company, left to stare at bare walls.

Fraser's dispatches became less frequent at Sunnyside Farm, and I had to chivvy staff by letter or email to get Fraser to write.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

2008. Post Apartheid: Fraser Esslemont's 1999 Sunnyside Farm Dispatches

08.02.99 Fraser's Sunnyside Farm dispatch: "I hope you got that Hong Kong teaching post [No]. You must be tired of bakery work. [Left one year ago]. Are you still interested in plants? Hong Kong Island would have some interesting flora species. Flora is my interest also. Let me have any pamphlets or magazines on flora types please in the eastern countries. I dont know enough about NZ or Australia plants. Is Canterbury a district of Chch, NZ or town nearby? [District]. They sound close.

Let me have photos of you & your family please. I keep all your photos here on the farm. Over the years, you've sent me quite a few photos of you and your family. Im very sorry for the delay in writing. In summer Ive been immersed in cleaning the vegetable garden and ive been too tired in the evenings for writing. I find I lack concentration and memory.

I'm not sure where the Tasman Sea is. Please draw a map. The doctors have got me down to 4 carbamazapine daily, no clozapine thank goodness.

Have you tried wind surfing in NZ? You wrote Jake tried last year. Maybe you can do it at Hong Kong Island. Jake and Luke will have tried horse riding in the NZ Show week. Jake and Luke must be active for their ages. Luke with his tree climbing exploits. [Up our silk tree at 40 Nottingham Ave, Christchurch]. Don't tell him of us in the avocado tree making tree houses at 22 Chelsea Drive, Durban North. [Fraser's retrograde memory was good].

Jake with his eeling. Do Kiwis fry these eels in butter? I can't grasp how you can eat appetising eels. Boiling eels in a certain NZ way would work. Im very mystified. Ive tried out certain food cooking myself. [Fraser was a SADF trained and experienced troopie cook]. Ask Jake how he cooks eels please. NZ could educate South Africans who are protein starved.

Mark, I can only get to Chch in 2010, after I've paid off my medical expenses to hospitals. I should be in early retirement in 2010. Farming saps your energy. Other farmers have got out of farming, when the goings good. It, retirement must be planned for. Would my jet plane land in N. Island? [Christchurch is slightly closer to Sydney than Auckland, and a lot closer to Sydney than Perth]. The Auckland international airport must be in the N. Island. Then I could ferry across the Cook Strait to S. Island. Im looking forward to seeing you, Leah, Jake & Luke. You seem to have settled into the NZ way of life very well.

Everything of the best in the years ahead."

09.08.99 Fraser's Sunnyside Farm dispatch: "I hope this letter reaches you in time for your 48th birthday on 08.09.99. Congratulations on adapting to life in NZ and everything of the best in future 21st century years to you & your family. You are only two years away from your half century. Thank you for the birthday book on Canterbury province in NZ. [Fraser's birthday is 3 days before mine]. The mailing of the book costs money. This book is informative and highly interesting. Im appreciate [sic] getting the book. Let me know what you would like to receive to remind you of SA. Not just a card on your 50th.

My gardening efforts are very effective now. Mostly I clear the ground of grass and weeds & trees. Then water what vegetables & fruit thats been planted. This planting and picking I leave to a housemother in charge of residential block workers. She decides the right time to plant or pick. The housemother controls the planting of seeds. [Sunnyside Farm gardening seemed more purposeful than feckless fruit picking at Town Hill madhouse].

In this book on Canterbury, herbs & nuts are refered [sic]. What type of herbs and nuts? My mouth waters. Im doing farming myself, but not herbs and nuts & because by looking at photographs, NZ soil looks very good for farming. HANGI must be the same as our braaivleis. Are the plains on NZ South Island producing wheat or corn? Not just sunflower seeds surely? You must eat a carbohydrate or starch or what?

Could you please send photos of you and your family. Recently you sent me photos, but the years have passed & im out of date with the way everyone looks now. Will a passport sized photo of me be allright? [sic] I can go to Underberg & have 2 taken.

Let me know how your writing progresses. In fact let me have your first draft. (The one that wont be published). I think just be patient & dont rush your writing. Non fiction works take time. I remember at school you wanted to write. I wish you every success, it wont be easy.

We will meet again, im sure, after the children are out of school. Im getting out of farming in 2008 when im 55. Then ill travel to NZ in 2010."

The Draft Mental Care Health Bill 1999 was published in February 2000 for comment. The new Mental Health Care Bill 2001 would repeal the notorious Mental Health Act 1973 and other racist homeland Mental Health Acts.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Maori Hangi Cooking.

2008. Post Apartheid: Fraser Esslemont's 1998 Sunnyside Farm Dispatch

Before leaving SA, I'd joked that in NZ we'd go on the dole, and I'd kick Leah out to work. True. We did go on the dole, and in 1998 after twenty years of marriage, with Leah not having worked for ten years bringing up our boys, I stopped work, and Leah became the breadwinner. Our roles reversed, and I became the homemaker, learning to cook.

I kept writing to Fraser at Town Hill madhouse, Pietermaritzburg. I posted this 27.08.98 letter to superintendent Dr. Ross: "I'm Fraser's nearest kin. I've written you several letters since I emigrated to NZ in 1995. Surely you and your staff would have had the professional integrity to reply to my letters during the more than three years I have lived in NZ?

I deduce from my returned letter to Fraser that Town Hill has moved Fraser to Sunnyside Farm, Bulwer. Town Hill did not have the professional courtesy to inform us, Fraser's family.

Please:

1. Justify Fraser's placement at Sunnyside Farm.
2. Forward Fraser's postal address to my address.

Town Hill's 'Sunnyside Farm, Natal' address on my returned letter is obviously useless / vague. The Town Hill forwarding address written by Town Hill on my recent letter to Fraser caused it to be returned to me."

No reply from Dr. Ross, who still played apartheid's "Fuck The Patient's Family" song.

After I contacted Fraser's curator, he apologetically informed me Fraser had been moved to Sunnyside Farm. I wondered how many of my letters and Fraser's letters had been lost, due to Town Hill's indifference? I was cross Town Hill madhouse had informed Fraser's curator, but not me, as Dr. Ross had stated in his letter years before that I'd be informed of Fraser's move. Like Vusi the Zulu sugarcane trucker who'd smashed Fraser, Dr. Ross had lied. And Town Hill's slackness confirmed my belief that madhouse keepers did not care about patients' families. And Fraser's rehabilitation at Town Hill was zilch.

20.09.98 Fraser's Sunnyside Farm dispatch: "I'm very pleased that youve got my latest address. My humblest apologies. Thank you for the bakery newsletter. Have you renewed your contract with them for 1999? [No. I was sacked at the 1997 Xmas party, after signing four temp work contracts. The bakery's excuse: cutting back staff]. Try not to join the unemployment que [sic] before the end of the millennium.

I do gardening on the farm, a lot of weeding and watering. Please send me information on mushroom planting in NZ. [I worked briefly at a Christchurch mushroom farm]. How it works in the foothills of the berg, I don't know. Its not easy Sunnyside farming, its harsh here. Id like to compare NZ notes to SA notes on mushrooms.

Im pleased to hear the Macs [Leah's parents] visited you. The trout fishing in Mnt. Cook area must be good. Im sure the Macs will visit NZ again. [They did].

The EL-NINO effects [sic] SA farmers too. Remember there was snow in the berg, all year round [false] - no more. Your dry period in NZ must take getting used to. You are doing better than myself in the vegetable patch. Your 2 boys sound very sporty and athletic. Shows your teacher training holds them in good stead. Well done! You are good at typing a lot of info. I need it for stimulation.

I realize you want to get NZ citizenship after living in NZ for 3 years. This would be difficult and costly. [Yes]. Being dual national for work & study purposes seems ideal. [We'd lose our SA citizenship, if we didn't first get written permission from SA for dual nationality].

Explain phonic approach to reading? There is no dictionary on this farm. Ive been out of circulation too long. SPELD seems quite a course for Leah to complete. Explain to her. Very well done.

Explain to Jake and Luke im delighted at their progress in sports & gymnastics. Mark, I think stay with bakery. People also need ditto. At Town Hill I learnt to knead doughnut dough. Patients also needed it for parties.

You will remember our snow skiing training from Westerndorf, Austria? I'd only try water skiing after my tendons were cut & shortened in 1988. Good luck in your NZ sign language. [I didn't learn much: boring and embarrassing]. Are there a lot of N. Zealanders who are deaf or mute?

Does it mean Jake & Luke finish school at 16? [No, 18]. They seem far ahead of SA students. Early in 1996, you thought N. Zealander's teaching system better than SA. Life memoirs sounds interesting. You went overseas a lot, including a working holiday around Europe, with Leah. [Worked in England, and toured Britain, and Eurailed Europe]. Also in Israel you worked on kibbutz Grofit.

Mark, It was the best possible move for me to leave hospital & go farming. After 13.01.95, the vacuum in my head was no more. Because scar tissue had formed. Now I work on my physical self on the farm. Building strength in my contracted right wrist. I do a lot of running to get tendon strength in both ankles. You won't be able to recognize me when we meet again. [Sadly, the iatrogenic wrist and ankle crippling was caused by Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome at Durban's Addington Hospital, eleven years before].

Before 2010 Ill be able to get to New Zealand. I hope life goes well for you and your family."

Over eleven years, Fraser had moved from Durban's exclusive geriatrics' ward, to walled seclusion / exclusion / detention at Maritzburg's closed O ward and Impala forensic security block, to open-air exclusion at Sunnyside Farm. Wherever brain damaged Fraser went in KwaZulu-Natal, his carers isolated him from "normal" people.

Despite doing minimal rehabilitation, Fraser's carers were careful over the years to label Fraser in politically correct ways. Carers avoided labels like "mad, insane, retarded, brain damaged, crippled." At Sunnyside Farm, Fraser was no longer a patient, but an "intellectually disabled adult customer," or an "intellectually disabled adult client." Those pseudo psycho-business labels were dishonest and insulting to patients and their families, and masked vagueness and stonewalling I'd encountered over the years.

In 2008, my family and I considered applying for NZ citizenship, as we couldn't afford to during our first twelve years' NZ residence.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

2008. Post Apartheid: Fraser Esslemont's 1997 SA Town Hill Dispatches

Fraser's undated Town Hill dispatch, received February 1997: "My apologies for not writing sooner, but ive been getting up to date with industrial therapy. This involves a backlog of undone rejected roof washers. Used under corrugated roofing. [Unpaid slave labour]. Ill be thinking of you and your family in 1997. Hope you all have a pleasant year and everything of the best in 1997.

Thank you for the pamphlets about NZ South Isle. They let me know what to expect when I visit you early next century. What's 'Ess's Tour' stand for? The botanical gardens in NZ must be impressive. You must have taught botany in schools in SA. What kind of meat part makes good biltong? [Lean topside]. I'm pleased your boys are doing well at school.

Are the new hearing aids making you hear spoken conversation clearly and distinctly? [My new digital hearing aid was OK. But I use one digital and one analogue hearing aid for best hearing, for my nerve deafness, although digital and analogue hearing aids have deficiencies, due to mostly background noise].

You must have got strong physically after all your packing of apples and cherries, and furniture moving, and warehouse work. I hope you get the computer job. [No luck, the Christchurch computer school went bankrupt, after I was on a waiting list for months]. Stay away from being an electrician. [I was interviewed for some electronics jobs and training]. You being interested in botany, why not be a gardener in botanical gardens?

Im sure you and Leah will be happy with Jake and Lukes education. Keep me informed. Im sure I can be of assistance concerning their future."

13.04.97 Fraser's Town Hill dispatch: "Howzit hows the year been treating you and your family? Very soon, I should have news of whether I go to Sunnyside Farm or Mulberry Farm in Tongaat, Natal. Recently I told Dr. Uilspieel that the vacuum had gone out of my brain for good, and I have an option of two places to go to. [Town Hill madhouse seemed to be working on placing Fraser in Natal establishments, instead of their deranged idea of exiling him to the Cape near where I'd lived]. This vacuum occurs to other head damaged people. Mine lasted 7.5 years, because I was comatose for 3 months. [Sic, 10 days]. Im defineitely [sic] on the mend after 10 years of being in 3 hospitals.

This Tegratol tablet (tranquillizer) worked well for me. But I receive 5 tablets and this is too much, now that I'm recovering. Please write to Dr. Ross at Town Hill about reducing my medication from 4 to 3 tablets. [Dr. Ross still wasn't replying to my letters]. On a farm my brain cells don't have to be tranquillized. So I think, get my pills reduced before I go to any farm at Bulwer or Tongaat.

If I go to Tongaat, Ill go skiing at Wewe Dam near Tongaat sugar mill. [Fraser's retrograde memory was good]. Trying to fish shad at Tongaat wont do me any harm. So I think being on the coast will be better for me therapeutically. Ill buy a second hand mountain bicycle to explore Tongaat sugarcane area. You'll remember, Im a little bit flatfooted, but im sure Ill handle a bike with no problem at all. I tried playing football and found Im very unsteady in the calf muscles. Due to my tendons being cut. [After iatrogenic crippling by Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome, then Achilles tendon surgery in Durban]. You and Leah were at Addington Hospital the night 2 doctors gave me a local anaesthetic and cut and re-stitched both my tendons very painfully.

[Leah and I weren't at the Achilles tendon notching. I trust major surgery wasn't done under local anaesthetic! At the time I was working at De Beers Koffiefontein hundreds of kays away, but visited Fraser once a month].

If you have any unused books on horticulture, please post them to me. Even varsity note paper that you don't use. We are both in the southern hemisphere. Im sure planting methods are similar. Any clues on farming methods, ill very much appreciate. Ill have to get study notes from somewhere. At Town Hill Im starved of information. [So much for Fraser's 'rehabilitation' and 'management' after over eight years at Town Hill]. A correspondence course won't help. What about NZ farming brochures?

Excuse the shocking writing. I think I should write in a daily diary to practice. [Sic]. Have you any photos of your house and surrounding area? Ive tried to imagine, but photos will help. Thinking of you and the family."

Fraser's handwriting was neat, much neater than mine, more legible.

After raspberry, strawberry, bean, apple picking for several months, I got a job at a Christchurch cookie bakery. Over ten months, I signed four (yes 4) temp work contracts, under the aegis of the Employment Contracts Act, which benefitted employers more than employees. The Act ensured Kiwi unions stayed weak.

31.05.97 Fraser's Town Hill dispatch: "Congratulations. You and your family have settled into being Kiwis in 2 years. I can tell by your letters that you are more relaxed & confident. [I didn't burden Fraser with the fact we were almost bankrupt, and our SA funds were almost gone.] Thank you for the vegetable growing book. I appreciate it very much. Please send me pamphlets and magazines when you find something suitable.

The manner you talk of trees, shows you love nature. Winter for us in SA started 4 days ago, not 1 June. Do you plant bean and strawberry in your garden? [Yes]. Good luck seeking new work. Working in a bakery will be sure employment for you, for a season.

I think ice skating and swimming excellent exercises for both the children and you. [My sons learnt to swim in our East London pool, and I taught them to skate at Christchurch ice rink]. Is your ears good enough to be a part time tutor? [No]. Not that I'm an expert on the subject. You have had enough over the years. You would have to go to the childs academic level to get through to them. It is up to you to try it out again. [I did and failed].

Tell me more of Leah's teacher-aiding? Is she pre-primary or primary school? You and your family are constantly in my thoughts, and I wish you 'veel sterkte vorentoe' in the coming times of change."

Fraser had suffered much over the last decade and his empathy was touching.

After being in denial about my deafness for many years, hoping for a miraculous cure, or decent hearing aids (analogues were OK, digitals were prohibitively expensive, but slightly more OK), I realized I could no longer teach.

Fraser's dispatches evaporated for more than a year.

Town Hill's superintendent Dr. Ross stayed spitefully silent.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Friday, January 25, 2008

2008. Post Apartheid: More Fraser Esslemont 1996 SA Town Hill Dispatches

While Jake and Luke settled into Oaklands School, Christchurch, I trekked to Lincoln University each day in my second-hand 850cc Subaru van, one of the worst motor vehicles I owned, after my crappy Austen Apache in SA, when I first met Leah. After working for over twenty years in SA, UK and Israel, and with over seven years' tertiary education, I found Lincoln lectures boring, with pseudo -intellectual lecturers riding around on bicycles and students doing juvenile things. I couldn't get excited about insect life-cycles; weeds; leaves; native plants; toxic herbicides and pesticides; grape vines and how to trellis and nurture them.

The eureka for me was that thousands of students scurried around studying nature in lecture rooms and libraries, yet outside nature was all around for anyone with powers of observation to see and read about in public libraries or visit on the internet. I was uninspired by Lincoln, and paid much money to realize I knew more about life and teaching than some of my lecturers. I withdrew after one semester, going back to apple-picking and other horticultural labouring. At least I was earning money, rather than wasting money on book -learning.

Fraser's Durban curator continued searching for alternative placement for Fraser, and kept me informed of developments.

28.07.96 Fraser's Town Hill dispatch: "Im thinking of you and your family often. How come you get a late flower flush in autumn? ['...season of mists and mellow fruitfulness']. The seasons marked with plants must be very nice. Tobogganing in the Alps must thrill the 2 boys. How about some photos of you and your family in Kiwiland?

Thanks for the leaves of the NZ trees. I kept them for a long time. Nursery work must have been interesting. Dont they sell in spring, when seedling trees are ready? [Yes]. Try and send the 'Meadow Fresh' milk container label, so I can see what the ingredients are. Im interesting in farming myself. Ill be training at Senior Training Centre in Maritzburg soon. Im waiting for the doctors go ahead letter of approval. [It seemed my nagging superintendent Dr. Ross about 'rehabilitation' was having some positive results, after Fraser had languished 7.5 years at Town Hill madhouse].

Im surprised they pollute Chch with oil and wood fumes. In Maritzburg, they got rid of oil-fired Corobrick factory. Your sealed oil fin-heater sounds a good idea. Please send me a photo of Lincoln University indoor cricket pitch. Im starved of any photographic material or magazines at O ward. [Closed ward again! I bet Fraser's madhouse keepers were unaware Fraser was an omnivorous reader before his Verulam accident].

What are deciduous trees? Send me a booklet on NZ trees. Id be interested. How old is your oak? Do they export apples to Asian countries. I think apple exporting would be a good career. People need fruit. [Aussies blocked NZ apple export to Oz, scared of Kiwi bugs]. I make compost myself out of dropped twigs & bark. Over 100 trees at Town Hill.

Forget the job search trail. Stay in one job for a year. A variety of vacancies seems a crappy idea. Competition for jobs must be stiff."

Yes.

15.09.96 Fraser's Town Hill dispatch: "Tell me how you do apple tree pruning? In fact I dont know how to do the planting of apples. Let me know please. [I was pruning apple trees at Apple Fields Wigram Orchard]. I hope you have got permanent employment. [Impossible as a NZ labourer, due to the employer-favouring Employment Contracts Act].

It must be nice Jake and Luke being in the same primary school, Oaklands School. Do oaks surround the school? [No, but an oak avenue in the past had led to the original Oaklands farmhouse, opposite our Nottingham Avenue home]. When they stop wearing winter track-suit tops what do the boys wear? Jake must be playing rugby already for his school.

Qualified gardener is what im trying too. Planted carrots, tomatoes and radishes just the other day for spring vegetables. Watering them takes time each day. Im going to write to my lawyer as soon as Im sent to the Sunnyside Farm, Natal. There is a holdup because a Town Hill patient lost his ID document and we farm workers will have to wait 3 months for him to get his new ID.

All the best for the future."

26.10.96 Fraser's Town Hill dispatch: "Thanks for remembering my birthday. I was thinking of you and your family on 08.09.96. [My birthday]. Everything of the best for the coming year. Tell me more of Kleinzee. Is it an inland lake close to the coast? What is the name of the De Beers town in the Free State where you worked? [Koffiefontein]. Did you get the native-plant nursery work [No]. The Department of Conservation is a steady source of income. Try not to do temp work for them. [The Dept. wanted lots of NZ conservation work experience from me before seriously considering my job applications, never mind my SA conservation experience].

[A query about my Durban friend who was carjack murdered]: Was ... a tall teacher who came to visit us at Chelsea Drive, looking for a Comrades Marathon second in 1973. [Yes, I seconded him. And psychiatrists said Fraser's memory was bad]. My memory is not too good since 1973. [And psychiatrists said Fraser's insight was bad].

A group of 5 friends sounds ideal in Christchurch. Do you go to hotels and restaurants? Budding plants must be quite something to see in a new land. I think you get blaze [sic] in SA, expecting plants to bud every year. We have had good rains in Natal. The way you describe the Hagley Park area reminds me you were keen on poetry in SA. Try thinking poetry of your own in NZ. Your boys must have settled down nicely in Christchurch and enjoying themselves.

I hope Leah got that junior school teaching job. [Yes, teacher aide]. Is the NZ teaching methods much different than South Africans? [Yes partly, like composite primary classes, and bad reading teaching methods, like suppression of phonics for years, which later regained favour].

Im still waiting patiently for the Sunnyside farming job. [As Town Hill superintendent hadn't answered my letters for years, I didn't inquire about Sunnyside, as it sounded just another bullshit story by madhouse keepers]. I heard we receive a disability grant from the state. So the Town Hill staff is procrastinating in their decision. I will just have to be patient. I hope you have a pleasant and prosperous 1997. All the best."

Fraser's madhouse dispatches showed a curiosity about NZ. He was obviously not getting enough stimulation and inspiration at Town Hill.

After Fraser had existed at Town Hill for eight years, Fraser's Durban curator advised me that the Sunnyside Farm placement seemed remote.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

2008. Post Apartheid: Fraser Esslemont's 1996 SA Town Hill Dispatches

15.01.96 Fraser's Town Hill dispatch: "Im very pleased to hear of your acceptance to Lincoln Univ. It must mean a lot to you after 7 mnths. of [labouring] work. Try and do forestry and wine making as well. Very soon ill be doing farm work at Pevensey. NB c/o Mrs. ... Underberg. At this private farm for disabled people sponsored by Round Table, SA. They farm 4 livestock cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry. Also vegetables, fruit and potatoes. Ill be getting strong farming, like you have done, after years of teaching.

The weather changes in NZ must affect your horticulture quite a bit. I dont envy you. How many greenhouses does your farm have? Your weather diagram over NZ was good and very interesting. Do the forestry course at Chch [Technical College] another year. [Town Hill doctors a year before said Fraser lacked a 'learning curve'].

Your ears are bad, but my eyesights getting bad, so weve both decided on farming as a career. [Working in mud and cold, rainy weather didn't appeal]. My forebrain damage does not affect my coordination, only [anterograde] memory. [Town Hill doctors said Fraser lacked insight into his condition].

My friends say the sheep farming in NZ is good. So learn that too. The botanical gardens seem to be in a few countries of the world. I guess the botanists show off their flora of their respective countries.

Thanks for the brochures of Chch and Canterbury environs. I think so too, your decision was the right one [to emigrate to NZ]. Meeting another SA teacher Mike ... would make the country less lonely. Is the cat the only pet you have? Sundown 9.30 pm. is late. Will you have to pay for accommodation at Lincoln Varsity? Or move into a student's res? Welfare state seems a good idea in NZ, but not in SA. [Town Hill doctors said Fraser lacked judgement].

I think keep a regular visit to the audiologist. Before going back to teaching."

10.03.96 Fraser's Town Hill dispatch: "Im sure you and your family will enjoy living in Halswell. You must have rented a 3 b. room house to spread out the content of your boxes. You will have collected a lot in SA. [True, but we disposed of a lot before leaving SA, and still found NZ houses too small for our needs]. Surely renting a big house is expensive. A duplex or simplex does not seem to have caught on in NZ. Please send me a house photo.

I guess you and your family have got your bearings of the town and surrounding area, after 8 months. You dont seem to have a space problem (big yard). SA has people living on top of each other in the towns, cities and metropoles. Lyttelton and the Port Hills seem close. How many kms. from your house? Christchurch seems community minded and public spirited. Its just as well you did holidayed [sic] in NZ before you emigrated. Is the Avon river big and wide, from the high mnths? [sic] Good luck in your Lincoln course of wine making & horticulture. What local work will you get? [Insightful question. Nothing].

Try writing to Dr. Ross at Town Hill and let him know I will be visiting you sometime this century, or early next. Im still waiting for a brain scan. But im sure I can take a jet flight to NZ. Let Dr. Ross know. My lawyer won't let me have money until Dr. Ross makes me a voluntary boarder. Ask Dr. Ross if I can be a consent patient while I make travel plans. Do you and my lawyer consent to me being at Town Hill, and will you consent for me to have a holiday, if you and my lawyer are accountable for my travel movements? My lawyer would have to buy the air tickets.

[Fraser showed levels of insight while pushing for decertification, but lacked insight into hazardous international travel for a brain damaged person. Town Hill indemnified itself by punishing Fraser in closed wards and the forensic security block. If Town Hill wouldn't take responsibility for Fraser when he was out of hospital, what was the point of certifying Fraser in the first place? Fraser was duped by psychiatric / legal jargon. Fraser wanted me and his curator to consent to his Town Hill imposed lack of independence and incarceration abuses. No way would I consent to continued abuses. Town Hill needed to rethink and improve its rehabilitation and management of patients and communications with patients' families].

I realize you will be 45 after you pass your 1st year exams. Is the course 3 years? Potchefstroom is comparable to Lincoln. [True, in small varsity size.] Good luck in your results."

01.06.96 Fraser's Town Hill dispatch: "Transfer to farm in Midlands, Natal. Very soon I'll be pulling out cabbages, cauliflower, carrots & beetroot, quite close to Maritzburg (2 hours drive away). For the next 6 months. Sunnyside Farm is quite close to Underberg. This farming is on a trial basis, after 7 & two thirds years at Town Hill. I'll be getting a mountain bicycle to get around on the Sunnyside Farm. Saving wisely, I'll be able to fly to NZ to see you and your family at the end of year 2000.

You'd better do vini-culture [sic] to be ahead of me in experience. I suppose SA and NZ horticulture expertise is very much different though.

Send me your phone number after your 131... in Christchurch NZ. Also some photos of your house and surrounding area. Id very much like to get an idea of the area. Id do the same of Sunnyside Farm, Ntl. Im not getting a car, ill hire when I need. My hand was not badly damaged. Im keen on seeing NZ."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

2008. Post Apartheid, 1995, More Fraser Esslemont SA Town Hill Dispatches

21.10.95. Fraser's Town Hill dispatch: "You seem more happy and settled, now that you are working. Thanks for the brochures. I spent a long time puzzling out the Maori experience. The brochure should be summarized and not so long winded. Unity seems important in NZ. The other brochures are informative and I have a good idea of the positioning of your surrounding countryside. Christchurch Arts Centre must take a full day to get through. I envy you - better than Town Hill Hospital.

Gardening is therapeutic for Kiwis and so I think for me. *NB* Working maybe [sic] in Dbn's Madeline Manor, address ... Moving to this address may take time and ill try and phone you when I move. [Over the years, one of Fraser's theme songs was to escape from Town Hill madhouse. Town Hill called it 'absconding,' and often punished Fraser by gaoling him in closed wards and a forensic security block for months.]

Like you ill work 25 to 30 hours a week. But not with heavy equipment like tractor, fork lift and loader. [I was labouring in the tree section of a Port Hills nursery].

Anymore [sic] earthquakes and tremors? I think move to North Island. Being on a fault on the continental plates is not good. You are not paid to take risks. Ozone layer as well makes S. Island a beautiful but dangerous place.

You must be pleased about your long awaited furniture. [Our SA containerized belongings had recently arrived on the Osaka Maru at Lyttelton]. Do some skying [sic] in the S. Alps. Working all the time is not funny. Does it really get minus 6 degrees at the coast? [No.] Its lucky English is an international language with only accent problems in NZ. It must have taken time to figure out A's and i's mixed up. Give yourself a break from teaching till early 1996. Study the curriculum.

I think Kiwis have been made a fool of by other South Africans. The Kiwis are cautious with immigrants. [Referring to Auckland's costly housing market, stimulated by immigrants]. Private schools won't be suitable for your education and training. Apply to get a teaching post in N. or S. Island. It's worth a try. [I made hundreds of unsuccessful NZ primary school teacher applications].

Does Jake do Arithmetic and maths in standard 3? Luke must enjoy the afternoon session in kindergarten. The Alpine parrots (only in the world) are unique birds. Post a brochure on them please.

SA democracy has become a success. Television programmes make it clear that the situation is hopeful and lucrative. The 1999 election will be able to tell the SA public that democracy wins all the time."

Fraser's undated Town Hill, O ward, Christmas 1995 dispatch: "You seem to have fitted into being a horticulturalist [sic?] superbly. Its another credit to you. Being deaf does not effect [sic] your nursery irrigation. You being a tractor driver, as well, makes it easy. Having nice co-workers helps you work better. Forget the teacher training lectures. Its a waste of money & time. [True]. Stick to gardening and wine making. Send me a bottle and do the 1 year course (post grad). [I planned to do a viticulture course at Lincoln University in 1996]. I think you and your family are settled in your home. Do a correspondence course with Lincoln University and dont move out yet.

Kiwis have a lot of trees brought in from other countries. Are they pleased? Or have they got used to it. [I planned to invest in a NZ Pinus radiata block]. I think, forget the job interviews and do gardening. Flying is costly. [I'd recently flown to Auckland to a Jewish school job interview]. How did the English queen and the Maori get on? [The queen had recently visited NZ]. Sorry to hear that you are 3/4% deaf. [sic.] I think do your forestry horticulture and study for 3 years part time by correspondence. Physical fitness would lead to mental alertness and awareness. Do some wine making & horticulture. Study for two years. Contacts, opportunities and job ideas will come in time. Don't rush it. Your correspondence application will be accepted. I studied with UNISA with a std. 9 pass. All the best for the new year to you and your family."

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

2008. Post Apartheid, 1995, Fraser's Town Hill Dispatch and Natal Mercury Article


< 1995. Esslemonts' Korean Masks from Seoul, in Christchurch NZ.


Undated Fraser's Town Hill dispatch, circa July-September 1995:

"I think you will have your money taken off you in NZ. The reason why there are so many South Africans in Christchurch shows that N. Zealanders want migrant professionals in one central South Island location. There was a newspaper report recently that SA immigrants had to be careful. Artisan work sounds suitable for NZ and people aged 20-30 age group, not married families. I think have 6-12 months stay there, then move to another part of the world. Labourer with your money taken away, is what you will become. [True.] Discuss it with other South Africans in Christchurch. A political plan has been made, started years ago. [Fraser referred to the NZ points system residence visa]. Try and get that Natal Mercury news clip. Im worried that you will all lose."

Doctors claimed Fraser had no insight nor judgement. Fraser was prophetic: Thirteen years onwards I'm broke, having lost every cent I made in over twenty years' professional work in SA.

I lost it during our first three years' NZ residence, mainly because I couldn't find professional work, nor any work with wages sufficient to sustain my family in Christchurch. Working for less than NZ$9/hour, it was impossible to support my family. Christchurch xenophobia and my deafness didn't help as well.

Leah became the breadwinner, tutoring students with Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD). She ran a self-employed tutor business, allied to Seabrook McKenzie Centre, London Street, Christchurch, then years later became an almost full-time teacher at the new Jean Seabrook Memorial School, London Street, Christchurch. No way did her low pay financially sustain our family. For years her weekly pay was topped-up by state dole, state accommodation supplement and state Family Assistance. For years, Leah taught ESOL to Korean kids on Christmas holidays from South Korea.

The Natal Mercury article Fraser referred to was correct. I wasn't the only unemployed professional immigrant on the dole. There were many immigrant nationalities on the dole in Christchurch. Unemployed foreign doctors worked in supermarkets, garages, and drove taxis. At a mushroom farm, I worked with an Egyptian engineer retraining as a laboratory technician. His medical doctor wife retrained as a teacher. They couldn't get Christchurch work using their Egyptian qualifications. There were many foreigners who'd gained NZ residence visas, but couldn't get NZ professional work with their overseas qualifications, and had to retrain in NZ, which made a mockery of NZ residence visa points gained for overseas qualifications.

Winston Peters, NZ politician, periodically spouted anti-Asianism, improving his popularity amongst NZ geriatrics. He blamed Asian migrants for Auckland's costly housing, congested roads and crowded schools, although NZ schools made mega-bucks from foreign students, and Kiwis benefitted from migrants' money.

Fraser's madhouse letter continued: "Otherwise Im impressed with Sumner. Is the fishing any good? Try wind-surfing in Pacific Ocean, not bungy jumping off cliffs. I was seriously considering getting a passport, saving money and having a 3 week holiday with you, this century, but it looks only in 2005. [This would become Fraser's theme song for many years]. Dont let the children get bitten by the travel bug. Our mom Valmai made sure we got the bug, for educating ourselves.

Is there farms or built up area in the swamplands of Canterbury plain? Is the code no. ... then ... for your phone no.? It seems NZ is mostly farmland. Ask the tourist bureau for pamphlets, brochures and any other information suplied [sic] to the tourist. There must be photographs of NZ. Please send them to me. [Over the years I sent Fraser many snaps of our NZ lives]. For a picturesque area, it (Sumner) must be difficult to beat. Is there skying [sic] in S. Alps?

The composite-class co-ed system sounds better for Jake and Luke. It would get them ready for the next year. Private schools spoil children. Tell me when you get a firm job offer and what kind of work it is. My phone no. is ... It maybe [sic] that lovely quiet Sumner suburb is meant to trap you, after you have run out of money. [The Pacific did beguile us: the 'alles is mooi en pragtig' phase of immigration]. Then the town council has you as an artisan for a long period. The Natal Mercury newspaper article did exist and warned S. African settlers not to go to NZ. The first S. Africans who settled in NZ took the farmers for a ride.

What race groups are in NZ? It must be a relief for the children not to cope with racial tension every day of their young lives. Well done. I think in the long run it will be OK.

Thinking of you and your family often."

It was a relief for Leah and me not to put up with SA racial tension, which we'd endured all our lives. For years I paranoidly locked our house, cars and garage in Christchurch, and walked our sons to / from school. For years Leah and I were paranoidly suspicious of people following us in Christchurch streets, expecting muggings, which didn't happen. For years I marvelled at young girls safely jogging Christchurch streets and Hagley Park. I thought in SA they'd be attacked and raped.

It was touching that Fraser was concerned about our migration and its potential for disaster. He showed more insight into our possible failures than I did. And his Town Hill madhouse keepers said he lacked insight and judgement.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Monday, January 21, 2008

2008. Post Apartheid - NZ, 1995, Winner Fraser, Town Hill

Leah, sons and I bade tearful farewell to Leah's family at Durban's Louis Botha Airport. We boarded a Singapore Airlines Jumbo jet, flew to Singapore, then onwards to Auckland. I bought a 1600cc, red Toyota Corolla, then drove us south to Christchurch, which became our adopted home.

After seven months living in Sumner seaside suburb, we moved inland to Oaklands suburb, where our boys grew up in peace and safety, far from murderous, thieving Azanians.

Fraser's and my donkey wagon rides together were far longer than any passengers' - medical, madhouse, mental health, legal - who rode with us on various treks. After his brain damage, Fraser had been certified, existing eight years in KwaZulu-Natal hospitals, surviving several medical crises. He'd given work to hordes of medical staff and madhouse keepers, and survived their caring, mistakes, manipulations, deceits and evasions.

Triumphantly, Fraser hadn't been cowed by many Town Hill forensic ward incarcerations. He'd strengthened his iatrogenic, Neuroleptic Malignant Syndome right clawed hand and fingers. He'd strengthened his iatrogenic crippled legs by shambling and "jogging," achieving Maritzburg's Capital Climb, despite Town Hill madhouse negativism. He'd gone walkabout in Maritzburg and Durban during States-of -Terror in KwaZulu-Natal's civil war. Maybe madhouse keepers imprisoned Fraser in closed wards for many months, like O ward and Impala forensic ward, as they were too lazy to rehabilitate and protect Fraser from himself and murderous Zulus.

While we grew up, Fraser and I'd lived 24 years together at 22 Chelsea Drive, Durban North, before I'd moved out, marrying Leah. Fraser never married. Fraser and I'd been to the same Durban North schools together, been boy scouts together, sang in Durban North Methodist and Saint Martins choirs together, trekked on SA holidays and overseas together, and run Comrades Marathon together.

As adults our lives diverged. I was a conscripted Commando troopie. Fraser was a conscripted Citizen Force troopie. We both achieved NCO rank, reluctantly, and saw through SADF for what it was - a kaffir, kommunis, terroris suppressor / oppressor - take your pick - and a waste of conscripts' lives.

Fraser worked for Standard Bank in Durban for over a decade. For eighteen years I taught in Durban, Kleinzee, QwaQwa and East London, dabbled in De Beers personnel work at Kleinzee and Koffiefontein mines for three years, and lived and laboured overseas with Leah for fifteen months, mainly in UK and Israel. Fraser stayed in Natal. I trekked further on my donkey wagon, and the donkeys always led.

I went deaf. Fraser went schizophrenic, then brain damaged.

After our physical crises, our work lives converged when we were both horticultural labourers, Fraser in KwaZulu-Natal, me in Canterbury NZ.

From Christchurch NZ, I wrote letters to Town Hill's superintendent Dr. Ross: NZ contact addresses; queries about human rights for brain damaged citizen Fraser.

No reply from Dr. Ross. A patient's family was nothing to him, especially an expat family like us, as migrants were too far away to bother his conscience.

Fraser replied to my letters thus:

26.06.95. Town Hill dispatch: "I'm very pleased to notice you have found a suitable place in NZ... When you travelled holiday-making earlier, you would have noticed places where to settle. I thought it would take you longer to find a place.

A lot of New Zealanders would wonder about South Africa, beating the All Blacks in rugby on 24.06.95 [World Cup]. I'm sure a lot want to emigrate to SA. I still feel there is no place like home. (Natal - garden province). However I get a mental picture of your Sumner Edwardian cottage. It would be very nice. I think just rent, don't buy the property. Please send me a photograph of the cottage.

To ship your goods in a container would be very expensive. Save your money before buying property. What is this Lyttelton place? Rather get work before committing yourself financially. You may want to move before or when youre 60.

I think you and Leah are bitten by the travel bug, because you both toured Europe and worked in a Israel kibbutz. You both thought travelling was what you needed to stimulate your minds, bodies and souls.

Dont you think the educational change would be too much for the 2 boys? But then again its worth the chance at their respective ages and smaller classes. Give me your phone number at Christchurch, NZ. Mine is... in SA. Thinking of you and your family often...

Are you or Leah good at typing or shorthand taking? Conferences or business conventioents [sic] are always on the lookout for part time workers. At the moment you are living off your savings, that dont last long when you are renting.

Keep in touch by phone or letter, because it will be difficult starting in a new country. Make as many helping friends as you can in NZ. Remember saving money makes money.

Sincerely,

Fraser Esslemont."

Winner Fraser was brain damaged over eight years before, then certified mad. Despite Fraser's brain damage, his semantics, spelling, syntax and paragraphs were reasonable. (I edited worse English grammar and expression from Afrikaner and Af adults at De Beers mines, when they wrote English as a second language. I marked worse English from SA pupils writing first language English, in schools where I taught). There was nothing wrong with Fraser's logic, nor his long-term-memory. Fraser's "learning curve" which Town Hill madhouse Dr. Kaf said was missing, was certainly there.

Sometimes Fraser's letters appeared disjointed, because he was referring to my letters. I edited his letters lightly, keeping his style and errors, like missing apostrophes and capitals. Ask anyone to spell Lyttelton correctly?

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

2008. Post Apartheid, 1995, Fraser's Freedom, Town Hill

At the end of 1994 we heard we had NZ residence visas. We sold our house, and while I finished my last term at Selborne College, we wrapped up our affairs, packed up, camped a week at Gonubie, left East London with few regrets, trekked across dusty, littered, shantied Transkei to Durban, where we holidayed with Leah's folks.

May 1995. I trekked to Town Hill madhouse for my last holiday with Fraser. Indian Dr. Nar ambushed me in Impala forensic ward office, obviously ordered by Dr. Ross. Dr. Nar's face showed no compassion, just anger and hate. It was the first time in six years any doctor had deigned to speak to me at Town Hill: rather late, as I was emigrating.

Dr. Nar sat uncomfortably behind a metal desk, muscley, white male-uniforms hovering, while I signed Fraser's indemnity form. Playing Pig Dog I laughed in Dr. Nar's face when he unctuously tried to chat about Fraser in Fraser's presence, like 42 year old Fraser was inhuman, without feelings. I declined to discuss Fraser with him and his obvious witnesses. Dr. Nar had had weeks to make an appointment with me. The fact that after six years at Town Hill Fraser was still being locked up in Impala forensic ward, and the fact that I still had to sign indemnity for Fraser while he was away from Town Hill was an indictment of Town Hill's "rehabilitation."

Fraser and I walked past the seclusion room through a corridor, while a white uniform unlocked the steel door, then the foyer wooden door, then the glass door. Freedom...

Fraser and I trekked to Lake Saint Lucia, where we camped. We walked game paths on the shore and evaded hippos grunting in pools. A barking bush-buck startled us. One night an nyala ram snuffled around my Golf GTS, trying to hustle food. Thieving vervet monkeys looted our food bag, while we fished from the lake shore.

I drove to Elandspruit farm near New Hanover, where we spoke to farmer Peter. Uncle Chum and aunty Esme, moms friends had died, and left Elandspruit to their son Peter. His sons helped him farm. Peter's farmhouse was surrounded by a high-powered electric fence, as Natal farmers were being murdered in the new SA. I drove down to Elandspruit below Sugar Loaf hill. Fraser watched Natal Kingfishers diving for frogs from the same sweet-thorn branch we'd fished under forty years before. Fraser's kingfisher-blue eyes shone.

I drove Fraser back to Town Hill, wondering whether I'd ever see him again.

08.05.95. My letter to Town Hill superintendent Dr. Ross. "Fraser's not a criminal! Despite your stating Town Hill was not a prison, Fraser was recently incarcerated in Impala forensic ward, with its locked doors, narrow vertical windows and seclusion rooms for eight months. He's still there. His 'crimes:'

1. Your contention he was found with Town Hill laundry, which he was trying to sell in Maritzburg. I understand theft's prevalent amongst patients, given their deprived conditions.

2. Climbing trees and picking fruit - part of OT.

3. Absconding without informing staff. (Fraser informed me he reported his absence to you by phone, and you told him to phone O ward.) [Either Fraser or Dr. Ross lied].

4. 'Holidaying' in Durban, without permission for a week, then reporting to his curator.

5. Looking at kids in a Town Hill creche. [Only morons ran a creche in a madhouse].

6. Getting fit by jogging.

I understand that in Impala forensic ward Fraser mixes with murderers, child molesters, sex perverts, rapists, psychotics, addicts, kleptomaniacs and others. At times, he's been put into a seclusion room with plastic potty and bare walls to control his absconding.

I note his clothes and shoes are still disreputable, despite my 1994 complaints and suggestions.

Fraser has had no OT during his time in Impala forensic ward.

I'm not averse to Fraser's medical care. I object to Fraser's extreme physical, intellectual, emotional, social and religious deprivation.

Your previous correspondence made it clear you didn't want your medical officers to answer my reasonable questions. Therefore please answer the following:

1. Is the above the best you can do for Fraser?

2. How do you justify Fraser's deprivation?

3. What is your management plan for Fraser?

4. Do you intend incarcerating Fraser in Impala forensic ward for the rest of his life?

I'm emigrating to NZ on 13.05.95."

No reply. Fraser's six year "rehabilitation" at Town Hill was a farce played by clowns.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

2008. Post Apartheid, 1994, Spiteful Madhouse Superintendent, Town Hill

29.09.94. My reply to Town Hill madhouse's social worker (who also couldn't spell my surname correctly) who'd posted me a list of alternative placement establishments for Fraser:

"The contents of your 19.09.94 letter are noted. You stated that I requested alternative placements for Fraser. That is incorrect.

For the record: AT NO STAGE DURING THE YEARS THAT FRASER HAS RESIDED AT TOWN HILL HOSPITAL, NOR DURING MY RECENT CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE HOSPITAL, HAVE I REQUESTED THAT TOWN HILL FIND ALTERNATIVE PLACEMENT FOR FRASER. TOWN HILL HOSPITAL AND FRASER'S CURATOR HAD SUGGESTED THAT FRASER LEAVE TOWN HILL TO RESIDE TEMPORARILY AT DURBAN MENTAL HEALTH.

I'd appreciate it if Town Hill would make the professional effort to answer my letter questions timeously."

I wondered what poppycock superintendent Dr. Ross was feeding his social worker. I wondered whether Fraser's curator had actually suggested placement change, or whether the idea was Town Hill's fantasy to use Fraser's curator as a ploy to dismiss Fraser, and to blind-side me.

At the end of September 1994, Dr Ross stated he wasn't allowing his medical doctors to waste their time replying to my questions. What a prick! Although I lived nearly 700 kays away in East London, he suggested I phone Town Hill, or make an appointment to see Fraser's Dr. Nar. He advised that Fraser could be transferred to another institution without my consent, but I would be informed.

Saying Town Hill would inform me would prove to be a lie.

Joker Dr. Ross's judgement was poor, as he refused to allow his doctors to give straightforward answers to my straightforward questions. What were they hiding? Dr. Ross's silence and stonewalling just angered me. I'm still angry years later. The apartheid state paid Dr. Ross and his state madhouse keepers to care for patients, and madhouse keepers were protected by the 1973 Mental Health Act. Dr. Ross's actions and omissions showed contempt for me and Fraser. Madhouse keepers could legally do what they liked with brain damaged citizen Fraser.

06.10.94. My reply: "Dr. Nar's report answered my question 19. Will someone in the 'team' please answer the rest of my questions, enabling me to understand Fraser's behaviour and Town Hill's management of Fraser? I don't expect long answers.

I'm 70% deaf, so your suggestion I discuss Fraser over the phone or by appointment wouldn't work for me. Hence my requests that my questions be answered in writing.

Your letter implies that Fraser's family isn't important, and that answering questions is too much effort to expect from people caring for Fraser.

I trust I'm wrong in these assumptions.

Your decisions about Fraser's future affect Fraser and his family forever, long after you and the 'team' forget about Fraser."

09.11.94. I continued: "As Dr. Nar only supervised Fraser briefly before his letter to me, and as things went wrong at Uiytkyk ward, I'd appreciate it if Uitkyk ward doctors, responsible for the years Fraser spent at Uitkyk, would answer my questions.

There'll no doubt be times in Fraser's life when the question of moving Fraser elsewhere will again arise. The decisions made by Town Hill staff affect Fraser and his family, and will continue to affect us long after Town Hill staff move on and forget about Fraser.

Trusting those responsible for Fraser when things went wrong, will specifically answer all my questions in writing."

No reply. Superintendent Dr. Ross's mind was like his punishment wards: closed.

A Town Hill social worker, after a plethora of placement suggestions and viewings said, "I don't know of any other suitable resources in Durban and surrounding areas, and therefore I'm at my wits end. Should you have any other suggestions please don't hesitate to contact me." That was the only time a Town Hill madhouse keeper ever asked me to help or collaborate with them.

A "place" manager seeing through Town Hill's manipulations said, "I'd recommend that Fraser is left at Town Hill, as they have all the qualified specialists necessary to attend to his needs and problems. We are far from Maritzburg, and we don't have qualified staff in the field needed for Fraser's problems here." That contradicted pressures Town Hill put on us to transfer Fraser to other state or NGO institutions. Fraser was damned if he stayed at Town Hill and damned if he left.

21.11.94. My letter to Fraser's curator bonis: "The Town Hill saga regarding sending Fraser elsewhere seems to have fizzled out for the time being, with Town Hill being on the defensive, offering tired platitudes about Fraser's condition and prognosis, without answering my specific questions. I'll let you know if anything crops up."

Eight years later, a Natal expat, psychiatric nurse told me in NZ: "In the new SA, Town Hill did everything it could to get rid of patients like Fraser." That partly explained Dr. Ross's Baaskap and Town Hill's manipulations, but it didn't explain Dr. Ross's silent spitefulness. It didn't delete the hurt and humiliation willfully caused to Fraser, nor delete the hurt, humiliation and wasted resources willfully caused to my family and Fraser's curator. For years afterwards, whenever I posted letters from NZ, Dr. Ross stayed silent. He spitefully decided I should lose contact with my brother Fraser's "rehabilitation," because he and his madhouse keepers disliked my questions and refused to answer them.

My one consolation was that my persistent queries had stopped Town Hill exiling Fraser away from KwaZulu-Natal to another province.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Friday, January 18, 2008

2008. Post Apartheid Town Hill, 1994, Eh! Kwa! Dammit!

Town Hill madhouse superintendent Dr. Ross replied to my drumming in September 1994, acknowledging that efforts to place Fraser in Durban institutions were unsuccessful. He then stated Town Hill madhouse keepers would try to place Fraser in an Eastern Cape psychiatric institution closer to us in East London. He suggested I also try to place Fraser in an institution near us.

I thought social workers were thick! This numskull ignored the facts that I was emigrating to NZ, and that Fraser had lived his whole life in Natal. Town Hill wanted to get rid of Fraser whatever the costs to Fraser or his kin. Over nearly six years, Town Hill hadn't encouraged me to be involved in Fraser's "rehabilitation." Instead, Town Hill had several times sneakily tried to use Fraser's curator to find a placement for Fraser, like Fraser's family didn't matter. The curator's legal job was to manage Fraser's finances. Legally, the curator had nothing to do with placement. He did it out of loyalty to Fraser, as our families went back to mom's varsity and teaching days, and Fraser, the curator and I were schooled at Durban North Primary and Northlands BH together.

Dr. Ross attached a patronising, heavily underlined, hotchpotch report concocted by Indian Dr. Nar, reporting on Fraser's old 1989 mental status nearly five years before, which told me nothing new about Fraser. Dr. Nar referred to Fraser like Fraser was a Skinner's rat learning to press buttons for food rewards in a maze.

Dr. Nar avoided answering why Fraser was battling during 1994. Dr. Nar stated old labels irrelevant to Fraser's 1994 condition. He failed to say how Town Hill was rehabilitating Fraser emotionally, socially and for daily living conditions away from Town Hill. Dr. Nar who'd known Fraser only two months, stated that Town Hill couldn't offer anything more than what Fraser was currently receiving. Dr Nar then recommended I explore other treatments and placement institutions for Fraser.

Fraser's "rehabilitation" had been neglected by Town Hill for nearly six years. Clearly madhouse keepers' "rehabilitation" of Fraser had failed. Fraser was obviously demented due to brain damage. He was disabled as he couldn't think straight. Drug therapy sedated Fraser, stopping aggression and seizures.

Fraser had tried "rehabilitating" himself by doing the most natural thing in the world, trying to integrate himself in Maritzburg's "normal" community, by shambling or "jogging" out of Town Hill gates. (Despite thousands of people being slaughtered in KwaZulu -Natal's civil war).

Town Hill madhouse keepers, deeming Fraser unnatural and abnormal, detained him in closed wards for months. Other "rehabilitation" was slave labour at OT, and unsupervised shambling around Town Hill grounds picking fruit.

Despite being brain damaged, Fraser was still literate and numerate, better than millions of black SA citizens, victims of Verwoerd's useless Bantu Education. Fraser had worked for a decade as a Standard Bank clerk, yet Town Hill didn't use his clerical skills. Fraser was disabled, not by his actions, but by negative attitudes and low expectations of his madhouse keepers.

A 01.06.94 Daily Dispatch article reported that a Grahamstown Rhodes University professor, also clinical head of Fort England Hospital, had said the following in his inaugural lecture: "South African psychiatry has been tolerating 'a system of infringement of fundamental human rights'... referring to detention of thousands of patients each year, 'many of whom have been treated without voluntary committal' [Like Fraser.]

Prof... advocated a move from the present system of involuntary admission and detention under a legal reception order to 'a more transparent, appropriate, less legalistic system.'

At present, South Africa had only 300 practising psychiatrists, while more than that had emigrated.

The situation was more than critical in the Eastern Cape, where there was only one registered psychiatrist for more than half a million people."

And Dr. Ross wanted to exile Fraser to Eastern Cape's Komani or Fort England madhouses. "...Eh! Kwa! Dammit!"

I wondered how many involuntary patients had been certified during recent States-of-Terror? While the enlightened professor criticized fellow psychiatrists willy-nilly certifying citizens, Town Hill madhouse keepers were trying to expel Fraser to Fort England - from mad to worse, about 800 kays away to a hostile border region of devious English, Xhosa, Afrikaner, Coloured inhabitants who'd been killing each other ever since Bushmen were exterminated; then Boers Great Trekked from cattle-rustling Xhosa and slavery-abolishing English; then eight Kaffir Wars slaughtered multitudes during the nineteenth century.

My 19.09.94 drumming to Dr. Ross: "Dr. Nar's report confirms what I've previously been informed about Fraser's neuropsychological status and prognosis. Fraser has been off clozapine since 1993. He was on clozapine and carbamazapine since his arrival at Town Hill in 1989. He remains on carbamazapine only. I suggest that an updated neuropsychological assessment be done to assess the 1994 period, which has irked Town Hill and Fraser so much, while Fraser was off clozapine.

I still need answers to my letter questions, which will enable my family to decide upon the suggestion that Fraser temporarily leaves Town Hill for a Durban Mental Health place.

Your 21.07.94 letter informed me that you and Town Hill staff suggested to Fraser that he could be going to live in Durban for a while at Durban Mental Health. The social worker informed my wife telephonically that she and Fraser had visited Durban Mental Health places. Fraser's hopes were built up. Your last letter said that plan had fallen through and you suggested he should go to the Eastern Cape. I trust that Fraser has not been told of this conclusion as it will crush him.

Your last letter says it appears that I'm dissatisfied with the management of Fraser at Town Hill. You then provide your opinion as justification for Town Hill's latest proposal that Fraser should be sent to the Eastern Cape. My asking reasonable questions about Fraser's management at Town Hill and expecting professional answers, should not be used as leverage to dismiss Fraser to the Eastern Cape. I'm disturbed by your response.

I informed you of my intention to emigrate to NZ, in the copy of my letter to Dr. Kaf. Referring to my last letter, I reiterate that we will be emigrating to NZ, in the near future, once our residence visas have been confirmed.

Fraser has lived all his life in Natal. It would be senseless and destructive to Fraser if he was dismissed from Town Hill to the Eastern Cape. You're assuming our family intends spending the rest of our lives in the Eastern Cape. This assumption is paternalistic and false.

We informed you months ago of our intention to emigrate.

Therefore, I have no intention of organising nor agreeing to Fraser's departure from Town Hill to the Eastern Cape.

Fraser must stay in Natal! Fraser must not be sent from Natal!

My family wants the best for Fraser. We want him to be happy and fulfilled.

Natal is Fraser's life!

My reasonable questions concern Fraser's 'quality of life.' Please give me frank answers to all my questions asked in previous letters."

Trying for transparency from Dr. Ross and his madhouse keepers was like slogging across Maritzburg's Umsinduzi River mud at night.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Town Hill Hospital, Pietermaritzburg.

2008. Post Apartheid Town Hill, 1994, Oooompa! Oooompa! Oooompapa!

While Fraser languished at Town Hill madhouse, I continued deafly teaching biology, history and English at Selborne College, East London, as well as coaching cricket and third and fourth hockey teams. My young sons were at local schools and my wife looked after us all.

We waited for news about our NZ residence application.

I got no response from Town Hill superintendent Dr. Ross, so I 14.08.94 drummed:

"I visited Fraser at Town Hill yesterday (13.08.94) observing that Fraser had been moved to O Ward, which is surrounded by an approximately 3 metre high wire fence, access-controlled by staff by means of locked gates. Fraser was better groomed, and his attire was a lot more respectable than had been in the past (except for shoes). Thanks.

Fraser's restless and slurring his words. His tongue appears to be too relaxed when he speaks. He also sucks his lower lip into his mouth a lot. Neither of these behaviours have been evident to me on my previous visits to Fraser [I feared tardive dyskinesia, a neuroleptic side-effect].

My visit raised further questions, and I would appreciate if if you would answer them in addition to questions I raised in my 27.07.94 letter. Additional questions are:

1. How long has Fraser been in O Ward?

2. When will he be allowed to leave O Ward, to return to a less restricted ward?

3. How does keeping Fraser in O Ward, with its obvious restrictions, prepare Fraser for acceptance by a halfway house controlled by Durban Mental Health Society?

4. What's causing Fraser to slur his words?

5. Why's Fraser sucking his lower lip into his mouth?

6. If his speech is deteriorating, does Town Hill have a speech therapist to rectify matters?

Trusting that the above questions and my 27.07.94 letter questions will be swiftly answered."

07.09.94. Another drumming to Dr. Ross: "Town Hill is forcing its decisions about Fraser's future upon our family, without providing us with the information we need to make informed decisions. We would have to live with your decisions, long after Fraser leaves Town Hill.

On 05.09.94 my wife received a phone call from a Town Hill social worker, telling us that she and Fraser had visited Durban Mental Health places - one of which Fraser had liked. She said Fraser would be unable to go to some of those Mental Health places, as his finances were too much. He'd be accepted if he was poor. [Social workers sniffing out Fraser's finances stank!]

Fraser's finances are limited, carefully invested by his curator. Should Fraser be expected to support himself, his finances wouldn't last long.

My concern is Fraser's long-term future, not a short-sighted bundling him off to Durban Mental Health, during which time his finances become depleted. He runs the risk of failure in Durban Mental Health. Then what? You have already said that Durban Mental Health may not want him.

I feel Town Hill may do the same thing to Fraser. Once he has left, Town Hill will be unable to accommodate him, should he fail at Durban Mental Health.

Town Hill is paternalistically forcing its decision about Fraser's accommodation upon our family, without providing us with the information we need.

I don't want Fraser sent away without your answering, in writing, all questions which I asked in my previous letters (see copies)."

16.09.94. Another drumming to Dr. Ross: "Today the social worker telephonically discussed Fraser with my wife.

I've already informed Town Hill that my family and I plan to emigrate to NZ. Our residence visa is being processed and we expect a response in a few weeks.

In early 1989, Durban Addington Hospital suggested sending Fraser to Kimberley, near to Koffiefontein where we lived. Addington suggested sending him to a no longer existing Kimberley mental home near Danie Theron Combat School.

Addington certified Fraser to Town Hill.

Shortly after Fraser's arrival at Town Hill, Dr. Kaf suggested sending Fraser to Komani Queenstown. I demurred.

Fraser's curator recently suggested that Fraser go to a Durban Mental Health place, concurred by Town Hill. I've sent copies of our recent correspondence to the curator, so he knows our feelings. [Town Hill was contemptuously trying to blind-side me, by manipulating the curator bonis I'd chosen for Fraser. There was no legal reason why Fraser's curator bonis should be compelled by madhouse keepers to seek placement for Fraser. The curator's legal responsibility was to manage Fraser's finances].

Today, the social worker said Town Hill had recently planned to send Fraser to Fort England, Grahamstown. Before that, Town Hill suggested sending Fraser to Komani, Queenstown. Grahamstown and Queenstown are bleak, freezing and miserable places in winter.

Fraser lived all his life in Durban, prior to certification to Town Hill, Pietermaritzburg. Fraser's life revolves around Durban, Pietermaritzburg and Natal.

It would be a mistake sending Fraser out of Natal.

My family has moved around a lot over the last decade. Sending Fraser to a centre near us would destroy Fraser, especially as we are emigrating.

Fraser must stay in Natal! Fraser must not be sent out of Natal!

My family wants the best for Fraser. We want him to be happy and fulfilled.

I STILL NEED MY RECENT QUESTIONS ANSWERED. I register-posted them to you. We would then be able to make a decision about Fraser."

So far, Town Hill's placement suggestions for Fraser were crazy. Town Hill madhouse keepers seemed hell-bent on expelling Fraser anywhere a.s.a.p. My family suggestions and questions were ignored.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

2008. Post Apartheid Town Hill, 1994, Boomalakka! Boomalakka! Boomalakkawa!

I banged my 27.07.94 drum to Town Hill madhouse superintendent Dr. Ross:

"Please note the correct spelling of my surname. I agree Fraser should be encouraged to cope with life away from Town Hill. I have reservations about his ability to do so. I doubt whether he has been taught the skills, and developed the skills at Town Hill, to enable him to survive away from Town Hill.

I've heard only negative reports about Fraser this year. Town Hill is generating a crisis to facilitate his rapid transfer from Town Hill. This is unfair and not good for Fraser's self esteem.

My impression is that Town Hill no longer wants the responsibility of professionally dealing with Fraser's problematic behaviour. Town Hill wants to foist him onto Durban Mental Health Society, without adequately preparing Fraser for such a proposed move.

After Fraser was certified by Durban Addington Hospital, Dr Luiz informed me that, 'further management is best carried out at Town Hill Hospital.' (See letter copy).

Fraser has lived at Town Hill as a certified patient for more than 5 years. You're now telling me that:

- Fraser's a thief. He sold hospital appropriated goods in Maritzburg. (You omit to say who 'found' Fraser and what the goods were.)

- Fraser continues to attempt absconding, and periodically absconds. (Town Hill didn't keep me regularly updated on the matter).

- Fraser's running is not a good idea, due to the failure of Town Hill to provide facilities for such a healthy past-time. [I feared akathisia or restless leg syndrome].

- Fraser hangs about a children's creche - with the insinuation that the children could be at risk. (You omit to name the creche, nor its child control procedures). Fraser has often said he wants to get married and have children.

- Fraser absconded from Durban Mental Health Society before. Your's is the first notification I have had of such an occurrence. I assume you refer to Fraser's drinking beers at a Florida Road hotel, prior to his certification to Town Hill. The social workers I spoke to at the halfway house and Addington, did not mention he had absconded.

You conclude, despite the above, that it would be advisable to send Fraser to be controlled again by Durban Mental Health Society.

Addington's Dr. Luiz and his team used the same blaming Fraser tactics to certify Fraser, sending him to Town Hill in the first place. He was certified so he could be 'managed' by Town Hill. Your letter implies failure in the management of Fraser. It resorts to blaming Fraser for Town Hill's inadequate management.

I'm devastated that the combined expertise and facilities at Town Hill, after Fraser has been there for over 5 years, should result in such a response from you.

Fraser is caught in a hospital - patient vicious circle. Fraser breaks Town Hill rules. He's locked up in a closed ward. He periodically absconds, interspersed with time in open wards for good behaviour. He repeats his erring, and the vicious circle continues.

A proposal, similar to yours, was raised by a Town Hill social worker a while ago. The outcome of my queries was Dr. Kaf's opinion:

'* In our opinion Fraser's condition is not such that he would be able to maintain himself in society without appropriate support.

* Our object is always to rehabilitate patients, if this is at all practical. As stated above, there is no urgency in Fraser's case to do this.'

THESE QUOTED WORDS AND YOUR LETTER DON'T ENCOURAGE ME TO BELIEVE FRASER HAS BEEN ADEQUATELY PREPARED BY TOWN HILL FOR YOUR PROPOSED SENDING FRASER TO DURBAN.

[Those clowns considered it not OK to rehabilitate brother Fraser, but considered it OK to gaol him for months in closed wards and Impala forensic block, after he was brain damaged and after he was certified for management at Town Hill].

Before I seriously consider your proposal of sending Fraser to Durban, please answer the following questions by return of post:

1. What can be done to improve Fraser's behavior at Town Hill?

2. What other methods of behaviour modification does Town Hill have besides closed wards, seclusion rooms and forensic security block? (The options sound heavy-handed and unimaginative, considering the professional expertise available.)

3. What has Town Hill done to adequately prepare Fraser for survival under control of Durban Mental Health Society, especially in view of your complaints about him and points in your Dr. Kaf's letter, above?

4. What life coping skills has Fraser been taught by Town Hill, during his tenure, to enable him to survive outside Town Hill? viz:

- Survival?
- Sense of purpose?
- Sense of community?
- Internal locus of control?
- Sound body, sound mind?
- Problem solving, strategic thinking, and self evaluation?
- Positive relationships?
- Positive attitudes?
- Team values?
- Work ethic?

5. In what way is Durban Mental Health Society better able to resolve Fraser's behaviour problems than Town Hill?

6. Who decides that Fraser should go to Durban?

7. Would Fraser go to Durban as a certified patient or a decertified patient?

8. How long will Fraser reside in Durban with the Mental Health Society?

9. If Fraser fails at Durban Mental Health Society, where would he go from there?

10. Who would pay for Fraser's stay in Durban in the Mental Health facility?

11. Who would pay for Fraser's medication?

12. Should Fraser acquire a disability pension, would the pension cover his living expenses and medical costs?

13. Who would be legally liable should Fraser continue stealing and selling stolen goods; hanging about children's creches; and other perhaps criminal activities in Durban while living at the Mental Health Facility?

14. Who is responsible for managing Fraser's physical health, mental health, and medication at Town Hill?

15. Who would be responsible for managing Fraser's physical health, mental health, and medication at Durban Mental Health?

16. What medication is presently being given to Fraser at Town Hill?

17. Has Fraser fully recovered from the low white-blood-cell count, resulting from years of clozapine medication at Town Hill?

18. What is Fraser's present physical condition?

19. What is Fraser's present mental condition?

20. What was the occupational therapist's programme which was worked out for Fraser?

I asked you this question in my 27.06.94 letter.

21. What efforts have been made by Town Hill to improve Fraser's appearance (clothes and shoes) since my 25.03.94 query?

22. What meaningful work has been provided for Fraser, besides tree climbing and fruit-picking (which Town Hill initiated then complained about), since my 25.03.94 letter query?

I wouldn't like Fraser's life to be wrecked more than it is at the moment. I need to be convinced that sending Fraser to Durban is in Fraser's best interests, and not Town Hill's best interests.

Please immediately reply, in writing."

No immediate reply from Dr. Ross.

Madhouse keepers had legally belittled Fraser to infant status, denying Fraser adult pleasures of looking at infants. Madhouse keepers objected to Fraser making adult decisions.

Superintendent Dr. Ross gave new meaning to fantasies and delusions. Fantasy: Dr. Ross wanted to send Fraser to Durban to fend for himself, without adequately preparing Fraser for such a fantasy. Delusion: Why did Dr. Ross mention the criminal forensic block, except to try to impress or intimidate? Forcing Fraser into brutally isolating seclusion rooms and the forensic security block were based on the perceived "IF" of Fraser's madhouse keepers: "IF" Fraser was a danger to himself and others, madhouse keepers would make Fraser safe, by locking him away from normal people. "IF" Fraser was perceived to be "violent" by his madhouse keepers, they locked him away from normal people. Considering the criminal and political violence in SA, that delusion was ridiculous.

To me, Fraser wasn't a violent man. "IF" Fraser was locked away for his own safety, then madhouse keepers were lazy and structurally violent, and weren't doing their caregiver jobs properly.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

2008. Post Apartheid Town Hill, 1994, Daar's Plek Op Die Donkie Wa

21.07.94. Town Hill madhouse superintendent Dr. Ross belatedly replied, concerned about Fraser's absconding from open and closed wards. He suggested Fraser try living at a Durban Mental Health halfway house again, despite the fact that Fraser had absconded from a Durban Mental Health halfway house and had drunkenly concussed himself over five years before.

Dr. Ross reminded me that Town Hill was not a prison (despite Zulu gate-guards, concrete palisade fence, closed fenced wards and Impala forensic ward, with locked prison-windows, and locked metal doors, trapping Fraser in the custody of madhouse keepers), and that their seclusion room was a limited option, and the forensic security block was not an option for Fraser, despite Fraser having been gaoled in both many times.

Dr. Ross wanted to send Fraser back to a Durban Mental Health halfway house, which had failed Fraser over five years before. (Durban Mental Health's chief didn't have the courtesy to speak to me, despite my two appointments with him). Dr. Ross offered no rehabilitation for preparing Fraser to live in a violent society again, despite Durban Addington Hospital having certified Fraser to Town Hill for "rehabilitation." Dr. Ross's opinions on how Town Hill detained citizens, and prison environments were contradictory.

To me, if a citizen was certified, locked away against his will, separated from society, for months, with beefy Zulu gate guards, and musclely white uniforms guarding Fraser, he was in prison, even if it was called a psychiatric hospital, or a forensic security block, or whatever. Snag: the certified patient / prisoner didn't have the courtesy of a legal trial, neither was the patient's family involved in the certification. According to the SA Mental Health Act 1973, a couple of doctors and a magistrate just certified the citizen, without consulting the citizen, nor consulting the family. The excuse was that if the family was involved, they might be trying to rip off the patient's assets, never mind that the patient's life was stolen by medical professionals, nor that the family grieved for decades for their missing relative. (In some black madhouses, patients disappeared for ever.)

Fraser avoided Town Hill's tyranny simply by walking or jogging away - normal happy activities, but deemed abnormal by Town Hill. If Fraser really was running away, he was resisting routine detentions in closed wards and the forensic security block. Dr. Ross didn't state why Fraser felt the need to run away, after existing at Town Hill for 5.5 years. He didn't acknowledge that Fraser had successfully completed the Comrades Marathon in 1972, nor recently completed Maritzburg's Capital Climb, despite Town Hill's restrictions.

If I was Fraser, I too would've run away from routine cutting off of my freedom.

If doctors and Dr. Ross were routinely locked up for months in closed wards and the forensic security block, would they too not run away? I'd noticed that Town Hill madhouse keepers didn't last long in their jobs.

Town Hill objected to Fraser walking and running. Was Town Hill's idea of "rehabilitation" immobility and paralysis?

Mom's old Maritzburg varsity song rang in my deaf ears:

"...Daar's plek, daar's plek, daar's plek, daar's plek,
Daar's plek op die donkie wa." (There's space on the donkey wagon).

While the new SA struggled to contain violence, especially in KwaZulu-Natal's civil war, and adapt to a democratic SA, Fraser ran rings around Town Hill madhouse.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See The Use Of Donkeys for Transport in SA: Dirk Hanekom.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

2008. Apartheid End, 1994, There's Space on the Donkey Wagon

Early in 1994 I took leave from East London teaching, flew to NZ and drove around on my look, see, decide trip. Christchurch looked a spacious city to settle in, as it didn't have the freeways and traffic jams Auckland had.

In SA, Bophuthatswana puppet homeland imploded in a mad frenzy of looting and killing, including 3 AWB manne shot by a cop. Three Iranian men including two doctors were shot at Mdantsane Bahai Church, near East London. In KwaZulu-Natal Buthelezi played hard -to-get with CODESA, but the elections would proceed with or without Buthelezi and Inkatha. They later joined the joll. Gnarly communists like Harry Gwala and his comrades, masquerading as democratic ANC, continued Zulu civil war, during a KZN State-of-Terror, affecting tens of thousands of lives.

ANC's Mkontho we Sizwe soldiers returned to SA, and were incorporated into the new SANDF and SANP. Jo' burg: 58 people died in a mad frenzy of shootings during the Shell House Massacre day, instigated by the ANC, pooping itself that Zulus on a "traditional weapons" peace march would attack Shell House.

Retired SADF generaal Viljoen brought conservative whiteys into the election, but bitter einde Afrikaner Resistance manne bombed Jo'burg, Germiston and Pretoria, killing 21 people.

Before SADF conscription had ended in August 1993, I noticed Selborne College boys I'd taught either did lengthy tertiary studies, or went on extensive overseas trips to avoid conscription, until conscription stopped. Call-ups for already trained SADF conscripts continued until the election.

27-29.04.94. South Africa's first democratic election: ANC won. Mandela became president. SA stayed violent for years, and black and white racists would trek for decades on the new donkey wagon.

13.06.94. My letter to Fraser's Durban curator: "Staff come and go at Town Hill. Controls seem to be slack. Fraser seems to be running rings around them...

Our experience: there's a Town Hill generated 'crisis' at least once a year..."

27.06.94. My letter to Town Hill superintendent Dr. Ross: "Today Fraser's curator phoned us, informing us that Fraser absconded from Town Hill. Fraser had spent some days on his own, in and around Durban. Fraser contacted his curator who discussed matters with him, transported him back to Town Hill, and had further discussions with Town Hill staff.

Town Hill has been remiss! This year, Town Hill has not contacted me about Fraser's absconding.

Another incident: Weeks ago, a SAP cop from Camperdown phoned us. He'd picked up Fraser while Fraser was on a Comrades training run. I asked SAP to return Fraser to Town Hill. [Fraser was running wild in KwaZulu-Natal while Zulu impis were murdering blacks in KwaZulu-Natal civil war].

Before this, a letter from Dr. Kaf asked me whether I'd second Fraser on training runs. I posted my reply to Dr. Kaf and you almost three months ago. I requested that I be kept posted on Fraser's progress. To date, I've received no reply. News I've received about Fraser this year is all negative. I trust Town Hill's making progress with Fraser and that he's not being allowed to 'do his own thing.'

Please reply, in writing, on Fraser's progress, or lack of it. With reference to Dr. Kaf's letter, please inform me of the precise programme which has been worked out for Fraser. Quote: 'Our Occupational Therapist has been asked to work out an individual programme for him [Fraser] and we will monitor his progress.'

The impression I gain is that things are not going well."

28.06.94. Another letter to Fraser's curator: "Your reaction to Town Hill was similar to mine. I don't like seeing Fraser hobnobbing it with sex deviants, drug addicts and their ilk. I'm happy you've taken the initiative to try to get Fraser into a Mental Health establishment, if possible.

After Fraser arrived at Town Hill, I explored every avenue I could find, attempting to get Fraser out of Town Hill, into an environment in which he would be happier. I drew blanks all round and came to the conclusion that, despite limitations, Town Hill was the best possible place for Fraser, all factors considered.

I've not recently followed up on my reams of placement correspondence.

My thoughts on alternative placement were that there would be great financial costs for Fraser, including medication, accommodation, hospitalization, transport, clothing, etc.

Maybe your initiative and influence will throw new light on the proposal that Fraser leaves Town Hill for a while.

During his time at Town Hill, Fraser's theme song has been ways and means of leaving Town Hill. On one of our holidays, he was keen to rejoin the army to use his SADF cook training. I drove him to Natal Command to make enquiries. Fraser ascertained that SADF contracted-in cooking services and no longer trained and employed SADF cooks.

Maybe Fraser could go to a halfway house, to let Fraser realize maybe Town Hill's not such a bad idea after all. There are obvious risks. We may also find a better place for Fraser in the process.

Concerning Leah's and my feelings regarding your intervention:

1. Our concern is that Fraser will not cope in the long term, outside a protected environment.

2. Fraser's obviously unhappy, but lacks insight about the care he receives at Town Hill and from you, and that he may be unable to survive in 'normal' society.

3. Fraser was unemployed for about two years before the '87 Verulam accident, and has since spent seven years in hospitals, which doesn't equip him for survival in society.

4. I'm afraid 'risks' which Town Hill warns about, will be a self-fulfilling prophesy, with possible injuries to Fraser, similar to his halfway house experience at the end of his Durban Addington Hospital stay. Therefore, as Town Hill has done little to equip Fraser for society, I feel Town Hill should spend some months preparing him to become independent - maybe next year. I'm against him immediately leaving Town Hill, as he must be taught coping skills.

5. Was Fraser on medication when he absconded for a week recently? If not, then I question the necessity for so much medication. On our annual holidays, he gulps down loads of pills three to five times daily - all neatly prescribed in little plastic packets.

6. If Fraser goes to another protected environment, will his curatorship account funds enable him to do so for the rest of his life?

7. If leave of absence from Town Hill is given, I feel:

- Fraser must be thoroughly prepared by Town Hill, because at the moment he's ill prepared by Town Hill.

- Absence must be for a limited period.

- Fraser must understand he will go back to Town Hill.

- If he succeeds, he'll be given more leave of absence.

- Fraser wants to get out of Town Hill, and has harped on it ever since he was certified. He should be given the chance to see for himself."

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See The Great Bophuthatswana Donkey Massacre