Thursday, May 9, 2013

SA-NZ Dispatches: Brain Damaged Brother, Exercise & Quakes

On April Fools Day 1987, my younger brother Fraser was brain damaged by a Zulu sugar cane trucker on the Verulam Road, KwaZulu-Natal. It was apartheid dying days, a state of emergency & civil war in KwaZulu-Natal between commie, ex Robben Island inmate, Harry Gwala's ANC & traditionalist, chief Buthelezi's Inkatha impis. Where there were Zulu impis and ANC terrorists or Xhosa APLA terrorists in SA at the time, there was lethal violence. Take your pick.

Way back in the 1960's Mandela was commander of Umkontho we Sizwe, a terrorist army intent on the violent overthrow of SA. After terrorist Mandela's release from prison in 1990 he was quick to blame KZN violence on a Third Force, apartheid security personnel. The Third Force was the ANC itself in the form of Operation Vula wanting to violently overthrow Buthelezi's Inkatha. Neither Mandela nor ANC revisionist historians & sycophant hagiographers ever produced evidence of a whitey Third Force killing Zulus at that time in KZN.

A much quoted death toll for the KZN civil war was 10 000, which put into perspective the random, quake violence, death toll of 185 in Canterbury NZ. The scale of political & criminal violence & death in apartheid SA (& post apartheid SA, like a reported rape every 5 minutes in ANC utopia) was much more than Canterbury's random quake violence & death.

Canterbury's 2011 national state of emergency was shorter too - 2 months. In reality, NZ state of emergency powers & restrictions were continued by CERA for the next few years: CERA's cordons, NZDF checkpoints, CERA / Crown / NZ National govt buy outs / land grabs of red zone residential land & CBD commercial Frame land & EQC's & insurers' dithering over repairs or rebuilds was massive structural violence perpetrated by NZ state on Canterbury citizens.

NZ National govt had decreed an apartheid homeland in Canterbury. Christchurch & QwaQwa, as I knew it 26 years ago, teaching Sotho kids, were roughly the same area & population size. Both SA-NZ apartheid homelands were run by National govts pretending to do wonderful things for citizens, but instead oppressing & discriminating, using kowtowing bureaucracies like education, finance, military, police, state security, grand building & road schemes, weak local govt... So far, NZ National govt's discrimination & structural violence against citizens wasn't as harrowing as apartheid SA's Nationalist govt, but given the ineptitude of state officials interfering in Canterbury, NZ was following SA's path after more than 2 years of NZ National govt control.

Canterbury democracy was a joke. The first time I saw the DEMOCRACY NOPE cartoon face of CERA minister Brownlee was at the 01.12.12 Democracy protest, Latimer Sq.

Fraser was in medical & mental health care ever since 01.04.87: Addington Hospital, Durban, 2 yrs; Town Hill Hospital Pietermaritzburg, a looney bin, 10 yrs; Pmb Mental Health, Sunnyside Farm, Bulwer, KZN, so far 14 yrs...

The Zulu sugar cane trucker, whose truck hit Fraser on the Verulam roadside, reported to Verulam Indian cops that Fraser had run down a road embankment into his truck. The Indian cops lost the report. I didn't believe the Zulu trucker's report, as any whitey in the way of Zulu warring factions in KZN at that time was collateral damage.

Years later, after a couple of Addington Hospital near death accidents perpetrated on Fraser & after Fraser's scrambled brain reorganized, he told me his beach buggy had broken down on the Verulam road & he was walking along the roadside by sugar cane fields to Verulam, to fetch mechanic help, when the sugar cane truck swerved & hit him. Ironic, I was teaching in QwaQwa during a state of emergency & there was no political violence in QwaQwa, although apartheid homelands were massive structural violence.

I hadn't received a letter from Fraser for some years, but Pmb Mental Health staff contacted  me via emails, email newsletters & photos of Fraser.

Fraser's 17.03.13 Bulwer SA letter card: "I hope this finds you well. I remember that you and your family have gone for about 20 years [18 yrs]. I hope to meet you in Australia for the cricket world cup in 2 years. SA will be playing.

You will have some memory of Durban. Perhaps you and your family will consider visiting for the soccer world cup, the last was in 2010.

At the moment I'm sports orientated. I could be entering into second childhood. I'm not seriously brain damaged. I must keep plugging away at the last years before 2018. [Fraser's retirement age 65]. You [are] lucky retiring in 2016.

All the best for the coming year..."

My 07.05.13 Christchurch NZ reply: "What a pleasant surprise getting your card a couple of weeks back. I too have gone on a keep fit campaign this year. I was 65 kgs for donkeys years, my optimum weight, but over the last 10 yrs or so, I put on weight, now hovering around 82-83 kgs.

I've had a couple of niggles, sprained tendons in my left foot & knee... I think the jarring of jogging on hard ground caused the sprains, so I've stopped jogging till legs strengthen. I've taken to walking around parks, like Burnside Park & Hagley Park & doing lots of press ups on park benches. I do about 200 press ups in batches of 30, interspersed with other exercises & walking.

Hopefully after a few months I'll get back to 65 kgs. Last year our GP said I had high blood pressure & high cholesterol, so that got me into my exercise regime, after rejecting his pill regime. I was swallowing more pills per day, for 3 months, than I'd ever had in my life - left me with brain fade & constipation. So I thought bugger that!

Instead I changed my ordinary caffeine tea with milk & sugar to rooibos & honey. Leah sometimes makes oats porridge for me for breakfast, apparently good for cholesterol & BP problems. I now eat more fish & chicken than red meat, which is too fatty. I take a pinch of Epsom salts each morning (bro in law had a heart bypass & swears by Epsom salts as good for the heart). I read that Aussie farmers used to dose Abo farm workers with Epsom salts as a "nigger cure all," so it cant do me any harm, rich in aluminium, good for the heart.

I also drink a glass of Shiraz in the evenings, also good for the heart with antioxidants, following the French way - lots of red wine, few heart attacks. Like mom's nightly sherry dop, "for medicinal purposes."...

Much as I'd like to visit SA or Oz for sports viewing, I have no money for overseas travel, as I haven't worked since mid 1998. Gotta win the Lotto! Leah's salary is low & we survive every month with little savings. Most of her dosh goes on house rent & paying other bills. I help out with housework, gardening & dad's taxi...

Roads are still a mess around Chch after the quakes, with Council & govt workers digging trenches & replacing sewage & water pipes all over, so we do lots of weaving around orange, plastic, road cones & road detours. 1000s of quake trashed houses were abandoned, so many people are looking for rentals or battling insurers for house repairs or rebuilds.

The quake trashed CBD is still a mess with ongoing demolitions, NZDF cordons & checkpoints & the promise of a modern rebuild by NZ National govt. Nix happening yet, just Piet promises. Authorities are still squabbling about whether to demolish & rebuild Christ Church Cathedral, or not, an ongoing court case.

Over the last couple of years we've seen massive numbers of house & business demolitions, but few rebuilds. Most CBD businesses moved to the suburbs. Few will return, as the CBD is like a war zone, with abandoned bldgs, empty, dusty demolition sites & few construction / repair sites.     

Over the last few months a few brave businesses & streets have reopened in the CBD, trying to attract customers back. On Cashel Mall demolition sites there are several shipping container shops, like glorified spaza shops.

After a long dry summer, winter hit us last week with heavy rains, like Cape Town's cold winter rains. This week we've had frosty mornings, so my Chch park walks include gloves, beaney, scarf, longs, 2 jackets & takkies, unlike our Durbs shorts, bare chests & takkies training days for Comrades Marathon, 1972.

Go well..."

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.


  1. Mark that must have been so traumatic for your family to go thru and your brother really had his future robbed from him. :( Still traumatic for you because've lost your brother still.
    Life is so bloody unfair at times.

    Go well. Love your posts.


  2. The trauma never leaves Sandy, one just compromises & lives with it. Example: After convalescence, does my brother live with us or does he live in care for the rest of his life? No win situation whatever the choice. Carers & legal parasites are another long story. Your feedback is always welcome thanks Sandy.