In 1945 at 12-years-old I realize how the impact of apartheid was affecting South Africa. Family, friends and neighbours conversations had become heated in their condemnation of racial laws passed. The National Party that was an exclusive Afrikaner political party led by Daniel Malan won the general election of whites only with a mandate to introduce apartheid. Their reasons for apartheid were that whites were superior to Africans, Coloureds and Indians. Their slogan of ‘Our own people, our own language, and our own land’ spelt it out, and their election twin slogans of ‘the nigger in his place’ and ‘the coolies out of the country’ spelt the beginning of the end for all nonwhites. With Malan who initiated the policy of apartheid as Prime Minister, the first thing they did was the pardoning of Robey Leibrandt the wartime traitor who had organized the Afrikaner uprisings in support of Nazi Germany in World War 2. They then announced their intention to curb trade union movement and do away with the limited franchise of the Indian, Coloured and African people. Ex-Prime Minister Smuts whose government had started the apartheid black and white ball rolling by passing the Asiatic Land Tenure Act in 1946 known as the Ghetto Act that curtailed the free movement of Indians and limited the areas where they could reside and trade, had in his softly, softly back-stabbing approach done what Hitler’s Nazis had done to confine Jews to ghettos in 1940.
The Afrikaner National Party then went into damage control. Not the type of safe guards that is put into place to counteract turmoil, rather quite the opposite. What they did was to reduce the value and usefulness of nonwhites. The suffering inflicted was through a well-organized militant Afrikaner group called the Ox-wagon Sentinel. B. J. Vorster who Smuts had interned during World War 2 for opposing South Africa’s participation in the war against Germany was a general in that organization; yet when Prime Minister Verwoerd was assassinated he became Prime Minister. They were part of Afrikaner groups that exploited the opportunities created by German victories and they resorted to sabotage. German radio broadcast in Afrikaans was also beamed to South Africa, and articles, pamphlets and books using ideas from German National Socialism was published by others of that group, and they also spoke to enthusiastic Afrikaner crowds. Then further down the track was the Afrikaner Resistance Movement, and like the German Nazi their emblem was the swastika with a slight difference. The flashes on their uniforms, flags and banners all bore the emblem, but so as to not make it to obvious or so they thought, it only had three arms of the neo-Nazi swastika. They were on par with the Nazi Sturm Abteilung (German = Storm troopers) as political militia. There was also the Afrikaner Brotherhood, a secret organization of elite Afrikaners whose aim was to solidify Afrikaner power. Where Germany had the Nazi Geheime Staatspolizei (German = Gestapo; Nazi Germany’s secret police), the National Party had a Security Branch that was identical in their intent to cause grief and torture and death.
I too had been wearing a uniform, but that of a Boy Scout and had done the thing of tying knots, signs and signals, tracking, camping, cooking, hiking, fishing, boating and hunting. We were the Jackal Troop and had a stuffed jackal’s head as our totem with its bushy tail attached to the end of our scout’s staff. Our outdoor activities took us over the waters of Black River in self, hand-made canoes, wandered through the bush of Rondebosch Common; wound our way up the mountain base to Cecil John Rhode’s Memorial, detoured to Cape Town’s Zoo and explored the mountainous area of Table Mountain. I had also joined Jim Battle’s Fitness Club where my training involved weight lifting, wrestling and boxing, and the skills learned did me in good stead over the years although never winning many trophies. My father had my interest at heart when he involved me in the manly art of self-defense as he called it. The only problem at that stage in my life was that I had a low threshold of pain, and a ‘thou shalt not’ hurt anybody and anything from my Christian, passive and kind mother. It took me some time to learn not to back pedal continuously around the boxing ring when doing an imitation of a shunting steam engine while blows were rained on me. But because of learning the hard way of blocking and parrying most of those punches, when I did reverse the action of throwing a few telling punches of my own that drew blood, I began to enjoy it. I also learned not to shut my eyes when seeing a boxing glove that got through my guard and head for my face, and when soon learning that reflexes and timing was also a factor, I developed footwork that overcame that.
At first I was thrown around like a twig and was bent in all positions like one too when wrestling. It wasn’t that my opponents were bigger or stronger than me, it was just that they had more experience, and they also happened to be the ones I beat in boxing and who saw a way of paying me back. Their headlocks, half nelsons and full nelsons at times wanted me to call for my mum, and when been continually body slammed against the mat I knew before shitting myself something had to be done to stop from becoming the fall guy. It wasn’t easy; however, determination to strength my arms and legs through barbells, weight lifting, bench-pressing and the medicine ball and skipping, I began to withstand what they were dishing out. It had not only strengthened my arms, which when having them in those grips they would shout uncle, it had also made my legs like a vice when having them in a scissor grip around the body or neck. Bridging of the neck when just about to be pinned to the mat got me out of those situations also, and it was all due to the training that had also strengthened my neck. Whenever hearing weights clanking, the thumps of leather or wrestlers grunt, it recalls the training and fighting episodes in my life and I usually dream about it. Our training took place at Saint Raphael’s School where one section had five classrooms divided by accordion type partitions. During the day it was a strict disciplined educational institution and at night it was bustling activity centre. Meetings held consisted of church, school, mothers, fathers, and sports of soccer, cricket, table tennis and lawn tennis. The partition dividers were opened up for functions such as social dancing, church bazaars, school concerts, weddings, boxing and wrestling, table tennis competitions and movies that saw removable black clothed wooden frames used to blacken out the windows for the cinema shows. The movies were definitely general viewing because the projectionist was a priest; nevertheless, for our three pence (three cents) though we received good value in been shown a double feature and cartoons, and for a good laugh a silent Charlie Chaplin or Our Gang movie.
The Afrikaner Resistance Movement Emblem.