Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Serious stuff

I liked to consider myself an activist reporter on the Evening Post and EP Herald in the mid- to late-1980s. Part of that meant thinking and acting proactively. With media restrictions imposed under the State of Emergency regulations, it wasn't always possible to get the news out in a straight-forward way. You had to find ways of drawing attention to things like the ongoing imprisonment of Nelson Mandela and the detention of thousands of anti-apartheid activists. I tried to do that, and here is an example.

I did not keep this print-out of a telex I sent for our telex manager Gert Knoetze to forward for the sake of the words. I kept it for the drawings I did at the bottom. But it was lucky I did, because this is a copy of a request I had Gert send to the Minister of Justice, Kobie Coetzee. It would have been sent soon after the surprise release on November 5, 1987, of Robben Island prisoner Govan Mbeki. This event, which happened at the old Summerstrand Holiday Inn in PE, I covered for the Evening Post. But as a follow-up, I put some challenging questions to Coetzee. I can't recall if I ever got a reply, but clearly the government was starting to move, after decades of logjam.

On the back of that page I did these fun drawings.

This print-out I only kept for the bizarre image of a broad-minded conservative. But here, too, we get an insight into the times. It is a Sapa story about a press release regarding the detention of children from Law and Order Minister Adriaan Vlok.

Note the little head on this figure. Also worth noting is the name Keith Butler-Wheelhouse, who was a big mover and shaker in the PE motor industry. Also here is a question I prepared for a Brig Heunis of the SAP. This concerns beach apartheid. The HNP had an oke called Attie Loock who was hell bent on undermining the PFP-led campaign for the opening of the city's beaches to all races. I evidently put it to Heunis that he had told Loock he would act on complaints about black people on the beaches.

Above this picture of dinosaur-like waves, or vice-versa, are the names of two senior traffic officials in PE at the time, Messrs Augustyn and Jonker. The issue? The ongoing safety hassles in Target Kloof.

This was on the reverse of that picture, and it lists what I worked on that day, November 27, probably 1987 or 1988. Apart from Target Kloof, I was looking into, among others, "more white schools to be opened", and a "Cosatu call for dairy boycott". Cosatu was formed in December, 1985, so its 25th anniversary is coming up in December.

This odd face is anchored by a reference to naval headquarters in Simon's Town.

On on the back of the above page, some notes regarding "whites, coloured, Asians and blacks". This was the language of apartheid, but sadly still remains that of the present regime, obsessed as it is with racial quotas.

Kept for the drawing, this too has other significance. I can't remember "Jenny's" surname - to my shame - but I had a lot of dealings with the Urban Foundation under Roger Matlock in the late-1980s. This NGO, along with Idasa, played a key role in promoting dialogue between UDF leaders and the apartheid government even before such contact became official.

I'm not sure which regional director of which government department this was from, but as a reporter one had to engage with these officials as every effort was made to nudge them away from apartheid.

This has no obvious political element I can see, but I believe there is something on the back.

No, not politics, but the nuts and bolts of journalism. Here Ralph Jarvis, at the time a revise sub-editor, makes yet another appeal to subs and reporters to stick to style.

As I said, Idasa was a key player in the late-1980s. This little drawing refers to another of their meetings.

Stan Anderson, a prominent businessman, was also heavily involved, as I recall, in rolling out playing fields in the townships, once the regime had accepted black urbanisation and scrapped the pass laws.

Meanwhile, the farcical coloured and Indian houses in the tricameral parliament kept up their sham show of democracy.

This creature has something to crow about: the names of two prominent journalists. Jimmy Matyu, mentioned in an earlier posting, was my mentor when I arrived on the Evening Post in 1984, while Marlene Burger was another key news-gatherer who later made a name for herself on the Sunday Times.

Rick McKiever was a prominent PFP/Democratic Party city councillor in PE.

This weird drawing sits alongside the tale of someone who had "lost my Rhodesian citizenship". At the time, Rhodesia had already been Zimbabwe for seven or eight years.

And, to end on a high note, this well-endowed lass also found a place in my note book.

No comments:

Post a Comment