Beyond the line of Apartheid.
November 19, 2012 in Uncategorized
Beyond the Line
For many years I have had this story in my files, and have wanted to write it up, and print it, but at times I was too afraid to do it, It is a true story, and only the names have been changed to avoid embarrassment to the parties in the story. It happened during the years 1976-1978 While the National Government was in Charge of South Africa. The so called Apartheid Government.
This is a story about a young woman that got inadvertently involved in this law.
This Story is for Gina with fond memories and love. Where ever she maybe now 37years later.
It was midnight when the telephone rang, we were always prepared for emergencies, and when we were told that there had been an accident, at Spieonkop Dam, we knew that it was serious. We waited, for our patients to arrive, but the ambulance never came, and we then presumed that the phone call had been a false call made by some, morbid prankster.
I knew though, in my mind that something terrible had happened, four friends of mine, had that evening decided to spend the weekend at the dam camping and fishing, One of them had a large motor boat, and they were to fish out in the middle of the dam.
It was a cloudy night, with no moon, anything could have happened out there, but I tried not to worry and carried on with my work in the wards as usual.
The following day, in the early afternoon the Daily News Paper, had these headlines. “Four Fishermen Killed, as boat plunges over Dam Wall in heavy mist”. The call we had received had not been a hoax, the patients we were expecting, had been taken to the Government mortuary instead. They had all been killed instantly.
Peter, one of the men in the boat, had been a good friend of mine, as we had at one time worked together in a small book shop in the centre of the town. Gina his wife was living out of town and I was unable to phone her. I went to see an Indian friend whom knew both of us fairly well. He had also read of the accident, and had been out to the farm to see Gina, and to convey his condolences, He told me that the funeral would be held on the following Tuesday.
Apparently the men had been fishing, and a heavy mist had started to fall, so they decided to make for the shore, but instead of going towards the land, they were going at full speed, towards the Dam wall. There were no warning lights at the wall and no safety chain, they had shot right over the wall onto the rocks below, the men had been thrown in all directions, and all had been killed instantly. They never stood a chance of survival; the dam wall was over 300meters high.
The funeral was dreadful, and the families of the dead men were shattered, that a thing like this could have happened.
I went to Gina, as she stood alone on the pavement outside the church, Peter was to be cremated in Pietermaritzburg. I wrote my phone number on a slip of paper and asked her to give me a call, if she ever needed to talk to me.
We had never been very close friends and I had only met her through her husband, during the time we had worked together.
A month later I received a phone call from her, asking me to come and visit her at her new home. She had bought a lovely home high on the hill of a new suburb of Ladysmith.
She had decided that to keep on mourning, over the loss of her husband, would never bring him back, and that she needed to live. She had invited a few friends over for supper and a party. I arrived at her home in the late afternoon, and together we prepared the salads and the meat, that were for her guests, and as the the afternoon slowly moved on, we decided to have a few drinks, and a swim in her pool. Before they arrived, after about six beers each, we then smoked a hand rolled dagga cigarette hoping that it would see us through the night.
We put on some music and were just going to get dressed, when the first guests arrived, we were only wearing our bathing suits, and as more guests arrived, we decided not to change and stayed as we were. After all it was an outdoor party, and the evening was warm. We prepared the fire for the braai, on which we were to cook the meat, Some of guests had arrived in formal suits, and the women in long evening dresses, this we thought was hilarious, nobody goes to a braai in and even dress, or even to a house party for that, we had expected them to come in casual clothing.
As the evening drew on, one of the male guests suggested a strip show, and Gina now full of alcohol and drugs, stripped naked, I did the same and soon we were dancing with our naked partners, much to the surprise of our few prudish guests. We started passing the dagga around, to try and get them into our party mood, but most of them declined and left in rather a hurry. In the now happy mood, we were in it did not worry us who remained and who left. We also did not give a thought to the fact that maybe one of them would report us for having and smoking, drug on the premises. At midnight we then decided to have another swim in the pool and the few of us left plunged naked into the cold water. It was after two in the morning when the final guests left. We were by then exhausted and with our chosen partners, fell into bed in a heavily drugged sleep, not worrying what the following day might bring.
After a few weeks of not seeing each other I was beginning to wonder what had happened to my friend. When one night she burst into my flat with a strange tall very dark and very handsome man,
I immediately thought to myself that this man was not white, but to avoid embarrassment, I said nothing and remarked that any friend of Gina was a friend of mine. I was introduced to him and told his name was Steve. To me he looked and spoke like an Indian, but it was difficult to tell in the dull light of the night. They stayed for a short while and then left.
The following day Gina came to visit me alone, and told me the story of how she had met Steve.
She worked in a small shop in town, and Steve came in everyday to place orders for his father’s tearoom. He had on many occasions asked her for a date, and she had refused, realizing that it might cause trouble, as he was an Indian of mixed parentage, and that he was also a married man with a child to support.
But eventually he had got his way and she had arranged to meet him at a local multiracial restaurant, where they could talk in privacy, without the eyes of the town on them. There he had told her that he had fallen in love with her and wanted to see her again. She then asked me if it would be O.K. if they could meet at my home to avoid running into his family. I asked her if she was serious about him and if so then she could meet him once a week in my home.
They came to visit me every Friday, dressed in tennis outfits, with their tennis racquets tucked under their arms, Steve had told his family that he was playing indoor tennis at the local club and then Gina would join him there, She had now dyed her lovely long blonde hair black.
At times they would meet just out of town, where he would park his car off the road and then in her car they would come to my home, while I went out to visit my Mother.
I knew I was harboring a pair of illegal lovers and that if we were caught, it might very well mean a prison sentence under the Immorality Act. But this we were not afraid of. Gina and Steve fell deeply in love and soon were meeting in her own home, late at night, to avoid being seen by her nosy neighbors, he would park his car in the garage and lock the door, While in her bedroom her small daughter Kathy, would keep guard, in the sitting room, watching T.V. ready to give a warning if anyone should come up the drive, so as to give the lovers time, to make an appearance, fully dressed and hopefully looking respectable.
For a time things went well for them and Gina and her daughter soon converted to Islam, this was to enable her to marry Steve under the Islamic law. Under this law a Moslem male was allowed 4 wives, if he could support them. Gina became Steve second wife. This law is not recognized by the Government of South Africa.
The wedding was a quiet and beautiful affair, with only two witnesses I and Kathy, We celebrated with a small party afterwards. The couple then drove off into the dark, for a weekend in Swaziland where there was no law against mixed marriages.
I took care of Kathy, and she and my son were of the same age and in school together, they were so alike that they looked like twins.
On here return from her honeymoon Gina looked radiant, as if not a care in the world.
It was not long after this that the police were tipped off by some unknown person and whey were now keeping a close watch on all our movement. Whenever they were seen together, either in his car or hers they were followed, either by plain clothes police or a police ban, there were instances when they had to play hide and seek with the police, Driving into strange yards and going to the owners of the house to ask if some factious person resided there, waiting for the police to drive off, then jumping into the car and driving off without lights until they were out of sight. Then driving like hell to either her home or mine for shelter.
Many a time, late at night the police would arrive at my home and sit outside my gate, for a while hoping to be able to catch the lovers together.
One night Gina arrived at my home Laughing, and on questioning her, as to what was so funny she said “Carey come and have a look at my car, I have found the ideal disguise” Outside I found she had stuck ten inch wide black tape all over her car and had a false number plate fitted over her own. The car looked quite a sight, but it did the job of waylaying the police for a few nights. During the day the car was back to normal and as evening fell it was put into its disguise, which cost her a small fortune in buying tape. For love across the Color line anything done to prevent detection was worth the money spent.
One night she and I were returning from a late night café, when we noticed we were being followed by a police van, “let’s outsmart them” she said smiling, we were now beginning to enjoy being followed by the police, as if they had nothing better to do. And we were getting quite expert at putting them off the trail, or so we thought. We drove into a small alley way and in and out between shops until we were again in sight of the main road, we stopped about ten yards short of the main road, just wide enough to take one car, switching off the car lights we sat for half and hour in the dark, watching for the police van to drive past us, eventually one went flying past up the main road, and we thought it safe to get out and light up a cigarette, and relax for a few minutes, before driving home.
To our surprise as we opened the car door, two bright spot lights were shone onto us. The police had parked their van a little way away and had crept up on us, We dived into the car and the chase was on again, but this time we had a head start on them as they had to run back to their van before they could follow us. Gina dropped me at the drive way to my home and shot off like a bullet, making her way to her’s. Within a few minutes the police were at my gate, I went outside and asked them what the hell did they think they were playing at, One of them replied “ Cat and Mouse” I laughed and said the Mouse had won this round and that by now it was tucked up in her tiny little hole.
They were mad and swore that they would get us in the end, when I asked what they meant; they answered “you should know” before driving away.
It was during this period that Steve’s Mother found out about the affair, and came to try and bribe me into telling her the whole story, I denied knowing anything about it, and she went away , threatening that she would get here revenge. She was a big fat white woman, who had married her Indian husband before the Apartheid Law had been enforced. She dressed and smelt like and Indian of lower class, her children were all white looking and handsome boys. As she stood there threatening me she shook her fat body in anger, yes she was quite a picture to see.
I was to go through a lot more interrogation by her as well as her daughter-in-law, Steve’s first wife, but I always somehow managed to put them off the scent.
It was during this time that Gina had introduced me to another Indian man and we had become very good friends. (This will be explained in my story further on).
One day late in October of 1975, a police officer came to my home to ask if Gina’s daughter Kathy was with me, as she had gone missing after school, I thought this strange, and if the child was missing Fina would have been the first to ask me if she were not with my son. I phoned my Indian woman friend and asked her if Kathy was with her, she said not, that she had picked her up after school and had take her straight home. She was most likely in her mother’s sitting room right now playing with her dolls. I told her what the police officer had told me and asked her to get over to my place, as I thought this was a trap, I then tried to phone Gina, but the phone appeared to be out of order. As soon as Mary arrived at my front gate I climbed into the car and we drove like the devil was after us, to Gina’s home, When we arrived there we were too late to give them any warning, in the front yard stood a police and next to it stood the police sergeants little green Volkswagen, we walked around to the back of the house to find Kathy crying into her Africa Nanny shoulder, When I asked her what had happened she said “ Aunty Carey the police pushed the door open, and when Tina and me said they could not come in, they pulled out their guns and said if we made any noise they would shoot us, then they walked down the passage looking in all the rooms “ Where are you Mummy and Uncle Steve” I asked her. “ They are asleep in the bedroom” she cried.
We made our way to the bedroom window, and crouched underneath trying to hear what was going on, so that if needed we would be able to be witnesses against the Police and their cruel ways.
We could hear very little as the window was tightly closed, but we heard the police sergeant ordering Gina to hand over her gun, and if she did not he would be forced to take it from her. We stood on tip toe and just managed to see into the room, we stood on tip toe and just managed to see into the bedroom, the sight we saw, made our stomach’s turn, The one police officer was holding Gina at gun point, and the other was feeling the sheets on the bed. Gina was standing dressed only in panties and Steve was standing fully dressed next to her. There was a police woman standing in the doorway, preventing any one from entering or exiting the room. Gina was ordered to dress and to hand her panties to the police woman. She refused to dress in front of the police officers and screamed at them to get out of her bedroom, waving her gun in the air. The police officer hit her and told her that he had seen many naked women before; as he hit her, she let go of her gun dropping it onto the floor. With that the police officer grabbed it, and now he had 2 guns trained on her. We saw her turn her back to the police officer and saw that she was shaking with fright and anger, and she was now crying. She pulled on a caftan styled dress and then slipped off her panties and turning she threw them at the police woman.”Catch you bloody bitch” she screamed, and then walked to her wardrobe to get another pair to put on. As she took them out of her wardrobe and envelope fell to the ground spilling it’s content’s at the feet of the police officer, It contained photographs of herself in the nude and a copy of Playgirl magazine, and a pack of playing cards, with men and women in different sexual positions on them. The policeman made a grab for them before she could retrieve them and snarled “Now we have got even more to charge you with”.
He grabbed her by the shoulders and pushed Steve towards the door. “Where are you taking us” he demanded to know “To the police station, and her to the district surgeon, to be examined”, the police man replied.
We made our way around to the front door, in time to meet them coming out, and I said to Gina, we saw it all and that we would be her witnesses in court if she needed us, she just shook her head in a state of shock and asked me to look after her daughter until she got home.
They were forced like criminals into the back of the police van and were driven away.”What will happen to my Mommy” cried her daughter, “They will charge them darling, but you won’t understand” I replied, with that we locked the house and told the Maid to wait until Gina came home, and that I was taking her daughter home with me, to give her supper and to let her play with my son.
Hours later Gina arrived back alone, and said that they would have to appear in court the following morning, where they would be officially charged under the Immorality act.
The next few weeks were a trying time for all, and soon the court case appeared before the Supreme Court, Gina and Steve refused to call us as witnesses and decided to go it alone.
They were charged under the Immorality Act and were given a suspended sentence of three years, she was then charged with possessing immoral photos and a book and fined R200.00 or 50 days imprisonment. She paid the fine.
The following morning the papers were full of the story and the Headlines, Screamed the wrong of Mixed Love in South Africa, “White widow in bed with Indian Lover”
The story the reporters got form the court, was a twisted macabre story, about how she had been found naked in bed with Steve, it was a story that held the headlines for over a month in South Africa as well as overseas.
Here is one of the newspapers printing from the Natal Mercury Saturday 29 1975
Widow had Indian as her Lover.
Ladysmith – The young White widow of one of the fishermen who died tragically last year when their boat crashed over the wall of Spioenkop Dam was yesterday found guilty of contravening the Immorality Act, and also of being in possession of indecent photographs and pornographic material.
Name with held. (29) And her light skinned Indian lover (25) name withheld, pleaded guilty to having had unlawful intercourse with one another when they appeared before Mr. J.D. Crafford in the Regional Court here.
The lovers who had married by Muslim rites in August were each sentenced to 6 month imprisonment conditionally suspended for three years.
The only witness the state called was Lieutenant Johannes Hendrik van Wyk, who told the court that he had gone to the woman’s house in Ladysmith on October 30.
The doors were locked, and the windows closed and the curtains drawn.
He found a servant at the back of the house and asked for the key. He opened the back door and went into the sitting room where he found the 8yrold daughter. He went softly to the main bedroom and opened the door. He peeped inside and saw the woman who was naked; she rushed to the door and tried to prevent Lieutenant van Wyk for entering. He saw the Male accused disappearing into the adjoining bathroom but could not see whether he was naked or not. The policeman went inside the bedroom and found the male accused behind the door of the built-in cupboard. He examined the bed and the sheets and got the impression that people had been on the bed. Lieutenant van Wyk called the woman police sergeant with him and handed her a pair of panties. The Female accused was taken to the District Surgeon, Smears which were sent for analyses proved positive. Although defense attorney Mr. Jack Maree led no evidence. At the end of the State case he handed in two affidavits written by the accused giving their explanation.
Mr. Maree told the Court that this was one of the most exceptional cases he had come across and that the relationship had brought great tragedy.
The Woman accused was not a social outcast as far as the White community was concerned.
Later she appeared before Mr.J.D. Crafford in the Magistrates court and pleaded guilty to being in possession of indecent and obscene photographs and pornographic material.
Lieutenant can Wyk told the court that he had asked the Woman accused to hand over the pornographic material and indecent photographs. These included photographs for which she had herself modeled and a copy of Play girl with naked men in it, and playing cards showing naked men and women and lesbians in indecent positions. She was fined R200.00 or 50 days.
It was soon after this that Gina found herself to be pregnant, and that her baby was due to be born the following August. Steve now very afraid tried to deny that the child was his, but she had conceived on the day they had been caught for the Immorality act. The baby a daughter was born in the private hospital on the 4th August 197a6, she was a lovely baby and had very fair skin, she looked like her father in her features but she was a white child. On receiving her book of life from the government she was classified Indian. When she was six months old Gina was forced by the While welfare to give the baby up for adoption. Saying that she would not be allowed to raise an Indian child. The welfare officers came to fetch her one bright summer’s day, we were heartbroken to let the little one go, but what hope did she have with the rest of the White South African Apartheid government against her. Gina sat and sobbed her heart out, and I asked her “ is any man worth loosing just for the sake of the child” Two days later we were on our way to Pietermaritzburg, to find her and once we found her tried hard to get her realized for the children’s home. It broke our hearts to see her lying all alone in the large nursery, for unwanted children, because she was wanted, by us if not by her father. It was also during this period that the welfare decided that Gina was not a fit mother to look after her older daughter and attempted to take the child away from her. When Gina received the first visit from the child welfare in connection with Kathy, we phoned her brother in Johannesburg and asked him if he would be prepared to look after the child until all the fuss died down, he agreed and she was put on the first available flight, but the Welfare soon realized what we had done, and warned us that Gina could be imprisoned for defying the Lay of Justice, Kathy was flown back and the long court case began. It was a tug of war between Gina and the child welfare and Ginas first husband, whom was the legal father of Kathy. He eventually won the court case and won custody of Kathy, causing near murder in doing so. The child was dragged out of her mother’s arm and was never to be seen again.
Gina had now lost both of her children, only to find much to her sorrow that she was again expecting another baby, With all the heartbreak she had gone through she decided that to have another baby now would only end them both in prison as the sentence was still standing, she found a doctor who after hearing the circumstances she was in agreed to do an abortion on her and to tie her tubes so that she could not fall pregnant again.
She and Steve carried on seeing each other but only when they knew it was safe, she was forced to sell her home and moved in with me, then she decided to leave Ladysmith for a while and went to Durban for a few months. It was not long before she was back, and again in the arms of Steve, saying that she could not live without him.
The baby she had was returned to her mother when she was a year old, only to be taken away two months later when Steve found out that she was back, He went with Gina and forced her to sign adoption papers, therefore making sure that the child would never return. The welfare once again came and removed the child from her mother’s care and she was told not to try and find her again as she would be placed in a foster home in another state.
Gina now decided to apply to the State President, for reclassification and asked to be classified as a colored, she was turned down, so again reapplied sending them the full story, of the case and how she lost both her children through this cruel Law.
She eventually received a new book of life, classifying her as a colored person in December 1978.
She said nothing to Steve about this and asked me to keep quiet about it as well for a short time longer.
In January 1979 Steve first wife was involved in a fatal car accident and died a few days later with brain damage, now he was alone, and only had her to turn to. He now regretted having made her give her child away and stared making regular visits again hoped to win her love completely, But he realized that he would have his Mother to win around and that was battle on its own. Within a few weeks she had the police once again on their tails, and once again they were caught for the immorality act, but Gina had a surprise for the Magistrate right up her sleeve, when she produced her new book of life in Court. Declaring that she was a colored person. The judge had to throw the case out of court, and Gina was now able to open a charge of wrongful arrest against the police an sue them for a considerable amount of money.