We had two men as farm labour; loyal men who reported any strangers on the property and never let Sheila down regarding milking. Elsewhere, the political change was stirring inter-factional fighting, with seldom less than thirty deaths a week in South Africa as Inkata fought the ANC in the power struggle.
Basil Read Construction completed the bridge and road in KaNgwane, so I was sent to a road contract between Nylstroom and Naboomspruit, extending northwards from the Kranskop toll-plaza I had worked on in 1985. My old company, SNA were the consulting engineers on this job, as well, so I saw a lot of my old bosses, Dolf van Huysteen and Vissie Visser. Joe Coetzee was the site agent whose friendship endures to this day.
One of my survey assistants was a young man named Isaac. He was several days late getting back to work, but communications from his homeland were unreliable, so I assumed that he was ill. When he returned, he had a horrific tale to tell.
The riots had enveloped his home town. There were necklacings with burning tyres placed about a victim’s neck, busses were set alight and residents were forbidden to leave and forced to join in or be regarded as belonging to the enemy.
Imagine: “Sorry, I couldn’t get to work, Sir. I was on bus-burning duty!”
Fortunately, none of his family were injured. Nor, I believe, was Isaac involved in carrying out a necklacing.