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FOREWORD This book relates the true-life history of a man who, as a young child, experienced sexual molestation and

horrific violence. He had to devise artful ways of surviving his turbulent development into adulthood. In stark, factual detail, this book describes his precocious escapes, victories, failures and limited opportunities. His personal history armed him with a wealth of knowledge about the emotions experienced by abused children. This is the expos, for he felt that this knowledge should survive him. Shared, the experiences will be a valuable tool for the many readers who have experienced or witnessed abuse or molestation. The book appears 50 years after the fact and in it, the author details the fundamental issues around self worth, social maladjustment, and the paradoxical feelings of guilt and complicity experienced by most child victims of violence, abuse and molestation. In his book, the author reveals the routes of escape to victims, and encourages them to make use of them. The book is inspired by the need to guide victims towards their escape. Many children and mothers, who are victims of violence or abuse, simply accept their circumstances. Bonded by loyalties and fear of disclosure, they endure too much. And many have lost their lives, either literally or figuratively. Channels of recourse are seldom available

to them because of their fear and silence. They do not realise that they are not the guilty parties. The perpetrators are guilty of wrongdoing, but they seldom care about the lasting effects on their victims. The premature death of the authors wife led to him having to raise his son alone. Having never remarried, he scrutinises the consequences of his voluntary reclusive existence. This first-hand account of abuse, however thematically groundbreaking, is disturbing because of the unembellished, graphic and verifiable descriptions of abuse, which persists to this day. Because younger readers will benefit from the narrative, profanities have been avoided.

THE PLACE The quiet suburb of Bez Valley in which many immigrants, including my parents settled after WWII consisted of a grid of jacaranda-lined avenues and oak-lined streets. To capture the ambience of the suburb, one would better understand our circumstances and the people who had resided there. The topographic features of the valley were two high rock-faced and densely vegetated hills bordering either side of the valley, one in the north on which stood the Observatory dome and one in the south on which stood the Marymount Maternity Hospital, which we referred to as The Castle. The ridges were known to the locals as koppies. The southern perimeter road was Kitchener Avenue, which was the main road separating Bez Valley from the more affluent suburb of Kensington. The road, along which the tram tracks ran, branched off into Kensington and the tracks continued on Broadway, which became Airport Road at Bedfordview. It was part of the major thoroughfare from Johannesburg city to Jan Smuts Airport. The suburb was growing fast and consisted of a grid of jacaranda-lined avenues and oak-lined streets, the Avenues running from First Avenue in the north to Eighth Avenue in the south and the Streets running from First Street in the west and Tenth Street in the east.

In the poorer areas, each of the blocks were made up of two rows of houses separated by a night lane, so called because most toilets were no more than buckets placed beneath a crude wooden box that served as a commode seat. The buckets were only accessible through a hatch in the wall bordering the night lane. Late every night, a tractor and trailer drove up and down each lane and the municipal labourers exchanged the used bucket with an empty one, because at that time, flushing toilets were a convenience meant only for the richest people. The main road from west to east was Kitchener Avenue, which branched off to Kensington, whilst the tram route from the city through to Bez Valley, continued straight along what became Broadway at the split. The west-to-east avenues parallel to Kitchener Avenue started at Eighth Avenue and went through to First Avenue, which was the northern perimeter road in Bez Valley North, separating Bez Valley from Observatory and becoming The Curve, which led to Yeoville. The Western perimeter road was First Street, separating Bez Valley from Judiths Paarl, Bertrams and Doornfontein. The parallel streets went through to Tenth Street which was the eastern perimeter road separating Bez Valley from Bedfordview. Fifth Street was the bus route for the green Putco buses, which the black people used from their homes in

the locations to reach their distant places of employ in the white suburbs which, because of the socio-political conditions at the time were far from the locations. More often than not, much of the black peoples meagre income was spent on transport to and from their workplaces. Separating Bez Valley south and Bez Valley north and cutting through the lowest part of the valley, was the Braamfontein Spruit, which was straddled by the Hofland Park and bordered by the Portuguese vegetable farm of Tony da Silva, the greengrocer in Sixth Avenue. The Spruit occasionally flooded Joss vegetable fields. Other landmarks were the Catholic Church and convent at the corner of Kitchener Avenue and First Street. In front of the church stood two magnificent date palms, and huge karee, pine and eucalyptus trees surrounded the gardens fronting the convent. The local priest was Father OConnor Ferreira, a young but compassionate man who was keenly aware of the needy people in his congregation. On the corner of Second Avenue and First Street stood the Catholic convent school, run by nuns of the Cathedral of Christ the King, the archdiocese in Doornfontein. Bez Valley was a reasonably inexpensive area, where property was affordable and labour was also within the means of the average working-class family. It became a local community essentially divided into one of stable, salt-of-the-earth, no-nonsense, poor but de-

cent folk on the one hand and an element of drifting, excessive, desperate and unstable individuals and fragile households on the other.

During 1936, a youthful and loving couple, Edith Coweley and Richard Panaino had married after a glorious, secure and exciting courtship of four years. Their first child, a daughter Eileen, was born a year later and they cared greatly for her.

No depth of expression can capture the overwhelming emotional and psychological anticipation of parents who are awaiting the birth of another child. Despite already having raised five children, our mother Edith was pregnant with the sixth, which was due in February of 1950.

to their family and their enthusiasm is not lessened by the excitement of their previous experiences at the birth of their children who were born at an earlier time. By 1953, our parents had completed their family and had six children. Eileen at sixteen was the oldest daughter, Cecil at fourteen, was the oldest brother, Georgie was ten, Patricia was eight, I was six and Bertie was three.

Directly across the road from our home lived a kindly old widow, Mrs Kelley. She alone raised her son Ginger, who was fifteen and two daughters, Colleen at six and Tammy at eight, after being widowed some five years earlier. The children were well cared-for and always neatly dressed, well mannered, friendly and stable. Their mother had raised them strictly and she had become known as a fierce protector of all children in the community but her own in particular. A quiet, middle-aged, Italian couple, Mr and Mrs Petroncelli, lived in the house beside Mrs Kelley. Living in the home beside us, were Mr and Mrs van Vuuren and their six-year old daughter, Margaret. They owned a small clothing factory in Jeppestown (Jeppe) and were a fine and generous family. Living only six houses away from ours, was my mothers scheming sister, Kitty. She had become the concubine of Timmy Thompsen, a World War II veteran whose wife had run off to Germany with her German lover, leaving him to care for Valerie, their daughter of nine. Kitty, with her two sons, Paul at fourteen and Michael at nineteen, had moved into his house, a three-bed roomed cottage. On the corner of Fourth Street and Eighth Avenue, lived Kittys daughter Ellen, with her husband and daughter, Cathy. Her other daughter, Maria, lived on the corner

of Fourth Street and Kitchener Avenue, with her husband Tony and their two children, six year-old Isaac and twelveyear-old Barbara.

CHAPTER 1 My father, blind drunk

My father Richard was staggering down the passage, bumping heavily into the walls on either side but keeping both of his open hands lifted and slightly outward, as was typical of a blind person to do. He had been accompanied home by another drunken man who was sitting in the kitchen, drinking white Malmsey wine and making suggestive remarks to Edith, my mother, who was washing the dishes. I was sitting on the kitchen floor rolling marbles to my brother Georgie. My older sister, Patricia, was nervously

standing behind the open door leading to the back yard. Her feet were crossed and she was jumping up and down a little. We were all aware that trouble was brewing. Pat Georgie Frankie come and help me, slurred Richard as he waited to hear which of us would respond. His bloodshot eyes moved right and left but they were directed higher than the height of any person. Although he could not see, his eyes made him even scarier. Georgie jumped to his feet and took Richards arm, guiding him to a chair beside the table, opposite the visitor. Coffee, ordered Richard. I want coffee and so does my friend here. He waved his hand in the general direction of the visitor. What you say my friend? he asked into the void above the grinning man. Jaah, said the stranger, grinning even wider and looking at each of us in turn before returning his stare to Ediths shapely behind. She can also give us each a kiss, he leered. Edith tensed visibly as she hastily poured steaming black coffee into two yellow enamelled mugs. After replacing the large kettle back on the coal stove, she carried them to the table, setting them down in front of the two men. As Richard put his hand flat on the table and moved it slowly across to locate his mug, the stranger reached out

and grabbed Ediths arm, dragging her onto his lap. He forcefully turned her head, kissing her on the mouth despite her struggle to escape. Aagh, hes only playing with you Edith, my father said, chuckling drunkenly. Then he stood up, felt around in the air, unexpectedly grabbed my mothers hair and smacked her face hard. Frightened, Georgie, Patricia and I ran to the lounge screaming because we knew that the physical attack on our mother was going to be bad. Fortunately, our little brother Bertie was asleep in the back room and did not witness the events this time. We were all familiar with our fathers assaults on our mother and on us, and we knew when to run and where to hide until the tirade was over. Our fear for our mothers safety and for our own was overwhelming, and we sobbed desperately. This time, the scuffling and our mothers screams lasted longer, and then there was a deathly silence. Edith suddenly burst into the lounge. Her hair was dishevelled, her bloodied dress shred from top to bottom, and she had no shoes on her feet. Georgie, she said with her bleeding, swollen mouth, get Bertie an you kids run. Ill meet you outside. She turned and ran back towards the kitchen. The three of us ran to fetch Bertie and together we rushed around the house to the kitchen door. The

stranger had already left, and our mother was kneeling in front of our father who, sitting and leaning on the table, was casually smoking a cigarette. Richard, she cried pitifully. How could you do that? You brought someone into the house to rape me in front of our kids. You can rot here but Im leaving with the kids, she spat, rising to her feet with difficulty.

Richard was blind because of uncontrolled diabetes and excessive drinking. His income was a small pension and occasional gratuities for furniture restoration and French polishing. Having endured World War II as a prisoner-ofwar, he had decided to have his family join him in the country of his captivity rather than to return to Italy where, prior to the war, he had been involved in a web of underground intrigue. Edith, my mother, had left South Africa during the 1930s to marry Richard in Italy. She had worked as a nurse after her arrival back in her land of birth. At work, she had access to drugs and because of Richards excesses and violent assaults; she had become addicted to pharmaceutical morphine, which she injected into the veins of both arms. Desperately alone, she had sunk into a quagmire of depression. Her circumstances and lack of self-esteem made her vulnerable and a target for

everybody who felt that they had something to gain from her condition. She was a forgiving individual and didnt blame Richard for his recreational family beating, but instead accepted the blame and increasing embarrassment for the eventual disintegration of her marriage. Limping towards us, holding her tattered dress against her body, our mother gathered us against her and together we walked towards the front gate. Come now, my babies, she said, trying to comfort us. Dont worry, well sleep at Aunt Kitty tonight.

My mothers scheming sister, Kitty, had become the concubine of Timmy Thompsen, a World War II veteran whose wife had run off to Germany with her German lover, leaving him to care for Valerie, their daughter of nine. Kitty, with her two sons, Paul, 14, and Michael, 19, had moved into his house, a three-bed roomed cottage, six houses away from ours. Begrudgingly, she would allow us to use the bathroom when my father chased us out, but she never offered us anything to eat or drink. We frequently spent nights sleeping in the outside bathroom, which was in the back yard about 20 metres from the main house. Its floor was always wet with water from a leaking pipe under the bath,

and fungus grew on the walls. The pit toilet caused a nasty smell to emanate from the ramshackle building. Our mother was, however, grateful that we had a place to spend the night and so we all lay down on the cold concrete floor together, wearing only the barest necessities, cuddling close to each other and shivering as the chilly evening temperature dropped. It was after sunrise the next morning that Timmy roused us so that he could get ready for work. Why do you let him do this to you Edith? he asked. If Kitty wants, we could put the kids up for a while, he said, looking at her sympathetically. Timmy, I cant lose my kids. I have to fight back. Im sick an tired of being beaten up an if he ever touches me or my kids again, Ill kill him, she said as she helped us up and jostled us out. Shuffling along, our mother took us home and, hardly sparing a glance at our father, who was lying on the sofa snoring loudly, proceeded to dress Bertie. Georgie, Patricia and I dressed ourselves while our mother made Maltabela porridge for us in the kitchen. While we ate, she went to the bedroom to dress herself and she must have taken a large dose of the morphine, because when she reappeared at the doorway, she was wheezing heavily and leaning against the jamb. To us, it was a sure indication that she had injected, because we had never known her not to be

using the dangerous fluid. Suddenly, guided by her wheezing, my father grabbed her from behind and started beating her mercilessly. You bitch, he yelled as he punched her in the neck. You bloody bitch, he repeated. You dare bring your little brats to come take my food. Ill show you now, he said, smacking her left and right. She sank to the floor as we reacted to our terror by escaping into the back yard, all of us crying. Across the road from our home, a kindly old widow, Mrs Kelley, lived with her son Porky and two daughters, Colleen and Barbara. Porky was 15, Barbara was eight and Colleen was six. The children were well cared-for and always neatly dressed. All three were well-mannered and friendly. Mrs Kelley was a quiet and kindly observer but her ferocious protection of her children was legendary in the Joburg suburb. She loved us all, often allowing her children to come and play at our house. Sometimes she even sneaked cookies and other goodies to us. Soon after the beating and after our father had left, Mrs Kelley came over and was shocked to find our mother badly beaten and heavily drugged, lying on a blood-saturated rug on the lounge floor. Edith, has that miserable bastard hit you again? Mrs Kelley asked, wiping my mothers face with a damp cloth she hastily retrieved from the kitchen. Speaking kindly, she continued, Im calling the police,

you cant go on like this. Look at the kids. Can you walk? Cmon, Ill help you, she said, helping her to her feet and gently guiding her to the bedroom. We could hear Mrs Kelley winding the telephone crank and speaking, but we heard nothing of the conversation. Later, she and our mother took us to Kittys house, where Kitty, Timmy, a fat middle-aged woman whom I did not know, and a huge police officer sat in the lounge. Our mother ushered us all into the back yard to play.

Kitty had not been subjected to the rigorous scrutiny and selection processes for fostering children, since at that stage her care over us was considered a temporary measure. The meeting of the adults lasted for several hours and then Kitty and the fat woman appeared on the small landing at the top of the steps. The fat woman was leaning against the landing wall, laughing cruelly. I looked at the way her baggy breasts and stomach bounced up and down, my gaze floated into her eyes, and my thought surprised me, I hate you. Kitty, with the help of this female government welfare officer, had found a conniving way to spirit us away from our mother. The fat woman had told Kitty that it would be only a week before the court would grant her full

guardianship of the four younger children. It appeared to me that, without consultation with our mother, a conspiracy was being constructed by the two vultures to have us taken away from her. As the fat woman sat down clumsily, she spilt some juice onto her dress and Kitty ran to find something to clean it with. Finally, she found a bathroom towel and she rubbed down the dress covering the fat womans rump. The funny side unfolded with remarkable speed as the fat woman blushed deeply. I had never liked Kitty. I somehow sensed the evil in her. Like a childish girl, she would walk beside someone with whom she was conversing and then, dropping back a little, she would stick out her tongue and wag her head in a puppet-like way. She irritated me greatly, but I also feared her. Come inside you kids, she ordered loudly. Your moms gone and this lady wants to tell you that I am your legal foster parent from now on. I hesitated as she glared at me. I always felt that she would punish me even if I had done nothing wrong. I cowered a little. She became impatient, descended the steps and strode directly to me. She grabbed my ear, Are you deaf? she asked, I called you, you bloody little bastard, she said as she held onto my ear, almost dragging me along, my feet hardly touched the ground.

Georgie and Patricia had already run up the steps and had reached the door. They were well aware that Kitty would beat them for no reason too if they failed to obey her immediately. Patricia ran into the passage howling with laughter, Georgie too was overcome with glee. Not knowing what else to do, Kitty suddenly ran to Patricia and slapped her hard across the face. The noise and general confusion made me panic and I started crying, pressing my scrawny body deeper into the recess behind the hot coal stove. Suddenly and without any reason, Kitty fixed her attention on me. She bounded across the gap that separated us, grabbed my arm and pulled me from the recess. The skin of my other arm blistered and stuck to the hot chimney pipe and it tore away as she threw me to the floor in the centre of the kitchen. I heard a loud crack as my soft-boned forearm broke. I could not understand the reason for her to hurt me. Aunt Kitty, help me, my arms hurt, help me please, I cried. She smacked my face and smacked again. Ill kill you, she screamed. Shut up or Ill kill you. She was out of control. She held my hair in her fist, forcing my head upward and she smacked me again. The pain of each of her smacks was less than the overwhelming terror of waiting for the next one, but they were violent indeed and the continuous fear was indescribable.

The fat woman, realising that I had been injured, took hold of her arm saying, I dont know if thingsll work out, Kitty. Leave the child, hes hurt. She pushed Kitty back and, covering me with the towel that Kitty had used to rub her dress down, she led me along the path to her shiny black car. I was only vaguely aware of the pitching of the car as it crossed the tram tracks along Kitchener Avenue and although I could not see much over the dashboard, I did see the steeple with the recessed statue of the Holy Virgin, as we passed the Catholic Church on the corner of First Street and Kitchener Avenue. I knew then that we were heading towards the city. Dont worry Frankie. Im taking you to the hospital and when we come back, youll be going to stay at Aunt Kitty until your mom comes home, the fat woman said gently. I asked, Who are you and what did you do to my mother? as I noted that she was the first person to use my name since Mrs Kelly. Im from the welfare and you can call me Mrs Enslin as all respectful children do, she responded. Welfare, I thought to myself. Then why had she allowed Kitty to assault me? We didnt talk again until the car rattled over the cobblestone driveway at the Childrens Hospital near Hillbrow.

A nurse wearing a clean white tunic opened the door and picked me up. She carried me along a well-lit passage and up some steps into a ward with more cots than I could count. She gently sat me down on the side of a cot with my dirty, bare feet hanging against the lowered railing, carefully removed my clothes, and washed me from head to toe, wiping the area around the burn on my arm very cautiously. Her hand on my body radiated caring and comfort. All the while, she gently whispered to me that when Mommy is well and comes out of the nursing home, she would come to fetch me. You will soon be a happy boy again Frankie, she said. Her tears dripped onto my hair, and she suddenly dropped the facecloth into the basin and embraced me with both arms, taking care not to touch my injury. While she held me, I tried to understand her tenderness. The curtain opened and a doctor, wearing a white dustcoat and a stethoscope entered. He smiled at me and touched the nurses shoulder. She fled, overcome with emotion. Hello Frankie. And how are we doing today? the doctor asked as he pressed the cold stethoscope against my back and chest. The doctor lifted my burned arm. He supported the arm at the elbow and with the four fingers and thumb of

his free hand, he felt here and there on my forearm, which was red, swollen and painful. Having regained her composure, the nurse re-entered the cubicle. Turning to her he said, Please take our little gentleman here to X-ray; it seems we may have a greenstick fracture. Then he left the cubicle saying, Frankie, you are a brave, brave boy and Ill see you again just now. The nurse carried me to a very dark room, where a woman wearing gloves and a green apron took me from her. Ill wait here for you, Frankie, she said as she sat down on a chair in the corridor. The woman put me on a table and told me to lie very still. She went behind a screen and I heard a buzzing sound and a click. I saw her leave the room. As I lay on the table, I became aware that it was silent, except for a soft hum. Just then, the kindly nurse entered the room. I see we are going to have a very strong arm now, which nobody can ever hurt again. We are going to put some strong Plaster of Paris on your arm and then we are going to put a big bandage on your burn, she said. Why is my mommy in a nursing home? I asked, realising that I had been thinking about my mother all along. She didnt answer but walked on and took me into another room where she sat me down gently on a tall silver table covered with a white sheet.

She busied herself bringing another basin with water and several rolls of bandages and cotton wool. As she placed the items beside me, she crouched in front of me, took my hands in hers. Looking deep into my eyes, she said softly, Your mommy is a very ill lady, Frankie. The medicine that she has been injecting has hurt her. The doctors and nurses at the nursing home will make her better. I withdrew my hand slowly and said innocently, But it wasnt the medicine that hurt Mommy, it was Daddy who did that. Tears welled in her eyes. She stood up and turned away, shifting instruments and bustling about, avoiding looking directly at me again for many minutes. The doctor came in, pulling long plastic gloves onto his hands. He was smiling and the room did not seem as silent as before. He took the wrapping off two rolls of cotton wool, lifted my injured arm, and rolled the warm, soft material around it until he reached my hand. He cut the remaining bit off using shiny scissors. The nurse had brought bandages to the table. three strange-looking

One by one, the doctor dipped each roll of bandage into the water and rolled it around my arm. Smiling kindly, he smoothed a white paste over the bandages. The paste became very warm and then cooled rapidly as it hardened. It felt comforting. Ill put my name on it

later, he said, smiling at me as he rinsed his gloves. The doctor was pointing the syringe up and a thin stream of liquid formed an arc in the air. This may hurt a little, Frankie, but youre a strong boy, he said. He rubbed the inside of my arm and then delicately pressed the needle into my vein. It didnt hurt much. I had seen my mother do the same thing to herself at least four times a day. The nurse approached with a teasing smile, holding a bright red lollipop out to me. I laughed and took it, feeling happy. After putting a paraffin-gauze dressing on my upper arm and bandaging my shoulder, she took me back to the room with the many cots. After dressing me in clean blueand-white striped pyjamas, she tucked me in snugly, leaned over, and kissed me on the cheek. She raised the side of the cot, opened the curtain, and walked quietly to the door. Looking back, she waved and then she left.

A little girl in the cot beside mine, who had been sitting quietly playing with some broken plastic toys, rose and toddled over to her cot railing. She had very curly blond hair, which made her look like a puppet. Why are you so ugly? Did a pony kick you and break

your arm? she asked. Im not ugly and I dont have a pony, I retorted. My aunt broke my arm, and then the welfare brought me to the hospital. Im sorry that your aunt is ugly to you, but you can come and ride my pony when your mommy comes to fetch you. My name is Angela and I live in Yeoville, she said. After dark, another nurse came into the room, Sleepy time! she said and went from cot to cot, tucking each of the children in before she quietly left, flicking the lights and closing the door after her. From the darkness I heard Angelas voice, Nighty Francisco, you not ugly and God must also love you like Nurse Marge, and I love you also cause you not rubbish. I replied softly, Gnight Angela. For a long while I thought about what Angelas parents must be like. I was certain that she was not beaten as I was because she was a good child and I could not find any good in myself. I soon dozed off, picturing Aunt Kitty and feeling sorry for her. Maybe I was ugly and deserved the hidings. During the night, I was awakened by a great commotion with the lights going on and two nurses running into the room. One ripped closed the curtain that separated Angela and me. From behind the curtain, I

heard a steady hissing and Angela making a terrible wheezing sound. Then her bed burst out from behind the curtain. The nurses rushed from the room pushing the bed on squeaking wheels through the open doorway, leaving the lights on. I sat on my bed and waited for what seemed hours. Finally, a nurse came in and pulled back the curtain. Kneeling, she took Angelas belongings from the white bedside cabinet and packed them into a pillowcase. The last things she placed inside were Angelas little pink cat slippers which had been lying under the cot. As she stood up I asked, Wheres Angela? Coming to my cot, she said kindly, Angela had asthma, Frankie, and now shes a little angel. You must close your eyes and sleep now because its still dark outside. She turned, switched off the light, and quietly closed the door behind her. I lay back, pulled up the sheet and blanket, crossed my arms, and closed my eyes, but I did not sleep. My throat was strangely sore and my mouth dry. Warm tears ran freely down each side of my head and into my hair and ears. I couldnt move to wipe them away. I had never felt so sad before.

A few days later, after a mighty breakfast of porridge and scrambled eggs with sausages, Kitty and Nurse Marge

came into the room. Kitty was carrying a big brown paper carrier. From it, she took a beautiful red checked shirt, grey shorts, grey long socks, and grey jockey underpants. To my delight, she had also brought a pair of shiny black shoes. As Kitty took straight pins out of the shirt, she put them between her lips, causing her to contort her face in the most fascinating way. Nurse Marge gently dressed me, taking some time to draw the long socks up to my knees and then fold them down to form a cuff. Ive come to love Frankie very much and hope to visit him at home soon. Im sure that hell never suffer another bruise, she said, looking directly into Kittys face while pushing the sleeve of my new shirt over the cumbersome Plaster of Paris cast, because Ill seriously injure anybody who touches this boy again, she continued. As she took out a pen and wrote on the cast, Kitty flushed a bright red.

Nurse Marge carried me out of the hospital, along the driveway and to the tram stop before handing me over to Kitty. She kissed me on my cheek, hugged me, and then ran across the street, back to the hospital, looking back and waving once. Her kindness was amazing and I loved her for it.

A tram noisily waddled its way towards us, its bell clanging twice before it stopped. After climbing the high steps of the tram, Kitty pushed me along to the first set of seats. She helped me awkwardly onto the seat. Leaving my hand, she fumbled for change in her handbag. CHAPTER 2

The abuse begins

In the bedroom closest to the lounge, Timmys daughter Valerie (9) shared her room with Patricia (8) and Bertie (3). Kitty and Timmy slept in the middle bedroom; and Paul (14), Georgie (10) and I (aged six at the time) slept in the third bedroom. Kittys eldest son Michael, who was 19, slept at Ellens house in Fourth Street. There was a double bunk bed in our room. The bottom bunks steel chain-type springs were broken, leaving the torn coir mattress hanging in the middle. This is where I slept. Georgie slept on the top bunk and Paul slept on the three-quarter bed near the window. There was a door that led down steps and to a pathway to the bathroom in the back yard. Suspended with a piece of wire from the light cable

and nailed to the wooden ceiling hung a tattered blanket, giving Paul some semblance of privacy. We shut the door of our bedroom at night since access led directly into Kittys room. Another door separated Kittys room from that of Valerie, Patricia and Bertie. The walls were made of wood and we could hear everything from the adjoining rooms. Many nights, when all was quiet, we would hear Kitty saying, No Timmy! Dont touch me, you pig. I often heard the girls giggling in their room. Then Kitty would shout out, Shut up, and sleep. The house would become silent again. The days passed quickly and the morning routine became familiar. Kitty and Timmy left at the same time each morning and walked to the tram stop on the corner of Fourth Street and Kitchener Avenue, where they boarded the tram to work in the city. Georgie always wore a blue shirt and grey shorts with a dark blue cardigan, long grey socks and tattered black shoes. He was two years behind in his schooling because he was generally of ill health, much of it due to neglect. He had been diagnosed with asthma and a stress disorder, but Kitty seldom gave him his medicine. Patricia wore a white and purple gym slip with a dark blue cardigan, short white socks and black shoes. Georgie, Patricia and Valerie always left early, carrying their book sacks over their shoulders. Sometimes they would take lunch boxes, but mostly not. They held hands

and danced along the path to the gate, where they met Barbara and Colleen Kelley. Together they went off to the Bez Valley Junior School in Sixth Avenue. Paul would leave a little later to meet up with Michael and walk with him along Fourth Street, up the hill to Athlone High School in Bez Valley North.

Each morning I awoke to the sound of birds singing and chirping. I bounced out of bed to look through the window and watch the sun rising into a silky blue sky from behind the surrounding dark koppies, its rays casting a golden blanket over the peach trees. I looked at the abundant grape vines on their steel archways, covering the path to the front gate. The fragrance of the yesterday, today and tomorrow bushes, mingled with the aroma of lavender and roses delighted me. It was glorious. Florence, the loyal house cleaner and a mother herself, looked after Bertie and me every day. She was a gentle, kind person who nurtured us and always ensured that we ate well. She often made a hard porridge and a delicious wild spinach stew, the leaves plucked from a plant that grew in our garden, with onions, potatoes and tomatoes. In the late afternoons, when the older children came home from school, there was little supervision over us

and we played in the street.

One night, Paul came to my bed and whispered that his bed was warm and that I should come and sleep next to him. I liked him because he had a buoyant personality and he was friendly. His open charm was infectious and he made us laugh. I jumped up, grabbing my pillow and crawled into his bed. I pulled the pillow to my chest turning my back towards him. I had almost drifted off to sleep when Paul put his arm over me and pulled me closer to him. I felt him rubbing his hand on my stomach and roughly tearing my short pyjama pants down. My horror caused me to breathe slowly and my mind raced. I was trapped in a situation with no escape. Although I had no sexual awareness at six years old, I realised that he intended forcing himself upon me. I pretended to be asleep and then tried pulling away from him but he was strong and much bigger, and easily held me against him. He held one hand over my mouth and forced me to lie on my stomach. Then he forced himself into me. I felt my flesh tear. The pain was terrible. Overwhelmed by fear and excruciating pain, a second

or two passed before I managed to break loose. I screamed, high-pitched and long. Kitty took a long time to come into the room. When she switched on the light, Paul pretended that he was just awakening, Georgie was sitting straight up on his bed, rubbing his eyes, and I was standing on the bed against the wall, blood running down my legs. Kitty grabbed me and pushed me to the outside door. Go and wash yourself, you little pig, she said, shoving a towel into my arms. It was cold but I trembled more from shock than the icy water, which I splashed onto my pelvis and legs. When I returned from the bathroom, Kitty was in the room with Timmy, Paul, Georgie, Patricia and Valerie. She was telling them that I had had a fit and had hurt myself against the bed. Georgie was telling Kitty that I did not have a fit but that Paul had hurt me. She yelled at him saying, He had a fit and he pissed the bed so shut up if you know nothing, then she smashed her fist into his face, making him stagger back, falling against the wall. Turning back to me, she yelled, If you ever disturb the household again, you will sleep outside with the dog where you belong. Now get back into Pauls bed and shut up. I cowered under her glare but got back into the bed. When everybody had retired, Kitty approached me menacingly as she was smoking a cigarette, and

suddenly, pressing me down; she forced her hand over my mouth and stubbed it out on my chest. She muffled my helpless scream and glared at me again before she stood up and switched off the light on her way out. I tried to sleep. Paul put his arm around my shoulder and said that he was sorry. I naively said okay and again turned my back towards him. He kept his arm about me and seemed to relax, but for loosening and tightening his arm gently. After a short while, I felt him rubbing himself progressively faster and harder against me. I did not move. The tremendous embarrassment I was feeling and the stark terror I had of Kitty kept me quiet. His grip suddenly tightened and I felt a sticky liquid flowing on my legs. I thought that I was bleeding again. Paul used a sock to wipe my legs under the blanket. It bothered me most that Georgie may have heard the events that happened after Kitty had left the room. I slept badly and the burn on my chest was agonising. I was still trembling in the morning and found it difficult to look at anybody. I was filled with shame.

For many nights, I slept in Pauls bed and to my relief, he did not molest me again for some time. Then one night he did it again. This time, he did not try to penetrate me, and he did not hurt me physically, so I lay quietly as he

forced my hand down to stroke him. Holding my hand tightly around him, he moved it back and forth faster and faster until he tensed noticeably. Grabbing and hugging me with both arms, he whispered hoarsely, I love you, Frankie, as he messed over my hand. His strange statement had a distressing effect on me. I felt revulsion at the loose usage of words that I had heard so rarely. As time progressed, Paul abused me more frequently, realising that he could do as he wished and I would make no sound. I had nobody to share my fear and confusion with. Much to his evident disgust, I soon started bedwetting, and he told Kitty about it. Each time I wet the bed she grabbed a handful of my hair and rubbed my face in the wet mattress. To my delight she finally made me sleep on my own bed again and I hoped that the encounters with Paul would stop. I was cruelly surprised that soon afterwards, his nocturnal visits to my bed began again and gradually became bolder and more regular.

I noticed a difference in Georgies behaviour. He had always enjoyed Porky Kelleys company tremendously and together they would sit in the middle of the street, building complicated structures using Porkys Meccano set.

One afternoon Porky was constructing alone and Georgie had not come out. Porky asked me to go and call him. When I entered the bedroom, Georgie was sitting on the floor, his legs folded beneath him and holding both arms across his stomach. He was swaying back and forth and crying pitifully. I put my arm about his shoulder and begged him to tell me what was wrong. He did not speak but rolled over to lie on the floor, maintaining a foetal position and crying continuously. I shouted for Florence and as she came in, I asked her to bring Mrs Kelley. Without hesitation, Florence ran out while I held both arms around Georgie and rested my head against his cheek. It was then that I saw a pool of blood forming on the floor underneath him. I cried with him. Tell me what to do, Georgie, I pleaded. Florence ran into the room with Mrs Kelley following her. I stood up and anxiously moved to one side. Jesus, help us, cried Mrs Kelley, turning Georgie over. Florrie, she shouted, You must run. Go and call for an ambulance! As Georgies side came into my view, I saw the hilt of a meat knife protruding from the left side of his stomach. I screamed and ran out of the house and up the path to where Bertie was playing. I grabbed his hand and together we ran down the driveway and hid in the old Willys.

Eventually we heard the ambulance wailing its way closer. Bertie and I were both crying. I tried to explain to him that Georgie had been hurt but that he would be all right. As the ambulance siren faded again, Mrs Kelley came into the yard calling to us. When we came out from behind the car, she put a hand around my shoulder and took Bertie by the hand. Together we walked slowly back to the house. Florence had already made steaming cups of coffee and we sat down in the kitchen as she put more cold milk into Berties mug. She loved us and she gently put the mug to his mouth. Frankie and Bertie, said Mrs Kelley gently. Georgie is going to be in the Childrens Hospital for a while. I want you both to go over to Porky and the girls at my house and dont come home until I call for you. Dont worry because Georgie is going to be well soon.

When we had finished drinking our coffee, Bertie slid off the chair and we walked to Mrs Kelleys house. Porky was chasing Patricia, Colleen and Barbara around the lounge table, tickling each that he managed to catch. The chaos took me by surprise and I could not

enjoy the game. I called Pat aside and told her I was going somewhere and she should tell Mrs Kelley not to worry. I left through the front door and ran until Empire Road, reaching the Childrens Hospital just after dark. I was exhausted but sheer determination and urgency had got me there. It was visiting time and the doors of the hospital were open. I burst in and as I rounded the first corner, I ran headlong into a man. I looked up to see another neighbour, a bemused Mr van Vuuren, looking down at me. My boy, he said kindly. What happened to you? Weve been rushing around looking for you everywhere. Come, Ill take you to Georgie and then Ill take you home, he continued, picking me up and carrying me back along the way he had come. When we entered the ward, Mommy, Kitty and Mrs Kelley were sitting around Georgies bed. Mommy and Mrs Kelley stood up and hugged me, smiling. I looked beyond them to Georgie who smiled weakly and lifted his hand. Lo Runt, he said, muffled by the plastic mask over his mouth and nose. Why do you look so funny? I tried joking. Then sudden relief and emotion overwhelmed me. I ran to his bed and flung myself over him, tears running down my cheeks as I sobbed unashamedly.

Respectfully, Mr van Vuuren quietly led the women away, seemingly hoping that Georgie would speak to me. At last I was able to talk to my big brother privately. What happened, Georgie? I asked. Who hurt you and why? I love you plenty and you are the only one who loves me, I said, still crying. Compassionately he looked at me and then hesitantly he said, Frankie, I will tell you, but you must promise never to tell anyone in your life, not even Pat or anyone else, ever. Realising the burden of the obligation of silence, I thought deeply and then vowed to embrace my commitment to keep it to myself forever. He started, My school teacher, Mr Thomas, you know him, locked me in the stock cupboard for the whole day. He only let me out when the bell rang an all the kids were gone. He took me behind the curtains of the stage and did the same as Paul does to you. He was hurting me an nobody heard me crying. I hate being in closed places an I wanted to die, so I pushed the knife into me. I havent told Mommy or anyone. Please keep our secret, little pal. The sexual abuse was having serious consequences. And all of the neighbouring adults seemed unable to help us. After promising to keep Georgies secret, I flung my arms around him and started crying again.

A noise behind me warned me that someone was coming in. It was Mr van Vuuren. He gave no indication that he had heard anything. Cmon Frankie we must go, he said. Georgie, stay away from the nurses and take care. Bye for now. I hugged and kissed Georgie on his mask and then took Mr van Vuurens hand as we walked to the door. I waved at my brother and we left. I was relieved to see my brother alive and I secretly pledged never to treat him badly again. But now I knew that he knew what Paul had done to me, and I was overcome with shame.

For four weeks, I visited my brother with anyone who went to the hospital. Whenever anyone spoke about him and his refusal to explain what had happened, I defended him stridently, and soon people stopped broaching the subject in my presence. On several occasions Mommy tried to ask me what I knew and I begged her not to ask me again. Mrs Kelley, Porky, Mr van Vuuren and another neighbour, Mrs Petroncelli, also tried to pry information from me. Kitty had responded as I expected, by beating me

brutally with her fists, but I curled up and took the punishment with firm resolve. The day that Kitty beat me, Florence walked in. Haaiee no Madame. Leave the child, you will kill him. The boy is only a baby and you are bad. Ai, ai, ai, no! she exclaimed and then walked up to Aunt Kitty and gave her an impressive slap. I secretly admired the remarkable valour of the house cleaner who had ventured so far as to protect us during an era in which a black person would not normally consider raising their voice, let alone a hand to a white person. She was very poor, yet she showed us undying loyalty. She reminded me of my mother. Her uncomplaining acceptance of her circumstances amazed me, and I took many lessons from them both.

When Georgie came home, he was reserved and sullen. The hospital report, which he read to me, said that he had been penetrated causing anal trauma, and had attempted suicide, injuring his intestines. It further read that a long course of psychological observation and treatment was imperative. The document recommended that Georgie should be in the care of responsible guardians. It further requested admission to an institution for traumatised children. I didnt think he understood all

the words on the report, but he read as much as he could. After explaining the report to me, we went behind the Willys and burned the document, envelope and all. Neither of us realised what great evidence the document would have represented to remove us from Kitty.

One moonlit night, Kitty, clearly drunk, entered our room while Paul was sitting on my bed, masturbating furiously with my hand in his. Surprised and embarrassed by her sudden entrance, he jumped beside me into the bed and pulled the blanket up over us. I was terrified, fearing a beating. For a while, she stood quietly staring at us and then she came and sat on the bed. To my amazement, she quietly hissed at Paul to expose himself again and he did so willingly. As she stimulated him she grabbed my hair and, to my indescribable horror, forced me against her body. Almost simultaneously, overcome by her stimulation on him, Paul responded, writhing. I felt sheer revulsion, but my mind could not fully absorb the scene being played out before me. She finally stood up, looking contented but somewhat

flustered, and then gazing at me, she said drunkenly, That will teach you not to cheek me again, you piece of dirt. That was your punishment. A strange timbre in her voice made me think she was embarrassed. Surprisingly, she handed Paul a towel before she left the room without saying another word. In my undeveloped mind, I could not comprehend that a mother would allow her child to molest another child and then even join him in doing so. I knew Kitty was aware of her sons abuse of me, but I did not think that she would ever do what she had just done. As she left, I looked up and in the gentle moonlight glow. I saw that Georgie was sitting upright on his bed. I was unhappy and ashamed. Although I did not understand the concept at that stage, the mental impact of this single traumatic experience by an immoral woman and her son confused me more than ever before. I felt unprotected, because from then on, Paul could do as he pleased without me being able to tell anybody about it. His presence sickened me and I could not even look at him. I had my first recurring nightmare that very night. I dreamt that I was at the shop on the corner and looking up towards Kitchener Avenue. A convoy of bright gold carriages, escorted by an army of black men dressed in gold armour, gold shields and gold spears was turning down the Jacaranda-lined Fourth Street towards me. I

tried to run away, but the faster I tried to run, the higher I floated off the ground. The brilliant, glowing threat approached, gaining on me. I forced myself to wake up and found myself standing upright on the bed, against the wall. Night after night, I had the same nightmare. I often screamed myself awake. Only twice did Kitty enter the room when I screamed, and on both occasions, she burned me with her everpresent cigarette, beat me and claimed that I had had a fit. The nightmares continued unabated and were so vivid and terrifying that to this day, I can recall them frame by horrifying frame. I was soon afraid of falling asleep and every night I would lie wide-awake until sheer exhaustion claimed me. On the next afternoon, when the big children arrived home from school, I confronted Georgie. We were alone in the back shed, shovelling coal for the stove. I asked him if he knew what Paul did to me and if so, why he had not helped me. He said, Frankie, I can do nothing to Paul. There are many more things going on than you will understand, but I feel for you and I am sorry for you. One day I am going to run away. You should stop being cheeky to Aunt Kitty because she only hates us more. He shovelled the last scoop of coal into the bucket and together we carried it to the kitchen.

Although I was not aware of it at that stage, the welfare was paying a foster parenting grant to Kitty for keeping us. The Department of Health and Welfare had scheduled an inspection of the property to determine the suitability of the premises for foster children. The living conditions were far from comfortable and the house was not ready for inspection. Expecting the visit, Kitty had long since sent Michael to stay with his sister Ellen, and therefore the house appeared to have enough sleeping place for all of its occupants. She had ordered Florence to clean the house early and told her to take the rest of the day off to do her own shopping. Florence looked surprised, but said nothing. When the two male welfare officers arrived, Kitty, dressed in a casual loose-fitting dress and flat shoes, spoke to them. She was acting strangely, deliberately flirting. I saw her slyly release the two top buttons of her blouse and expose more of her breasts than normal. She appeared pretentiously demure as she let them in, and I was surprised that they didnt seem to notice that she was leading them on.

Soon after the officers arrived, she diverted their attention by offering them brandy and Coke. She raised her skirt slightly as she sat down, with the front of her undergarment clearly exposed to the officer sitting beside me. They all appeared to be thoroughly enjoying the teasing. Aware of the officers keen interest, Kitty led him into the bedroom as he took her hand. Neither attempted to conceal their urgency and in their haste to indulge their desires, they left the door slightly ajar. Recognising the developing sexual interaction, Bertie went outside and I was left alone in the lounge with the other officer who, unable to keep himself under control, took my arm and pulled me up beside him. He exposed himself as he turned towards me and pulled my hand roughly, pressing it down towards his open trousers. I clenched my hand tightly and twisted my thin wrist upward, escaping from his grasp before I had touched him. I jumped up and ran out to find and console Bertie. Hearing the commotion, the other officer and Kitty appeared in the bedroom doorway, saw the exposed officer on the couch and both giggled. They emerged from the room naked, then they all three went into the bedroom, and unmistakable sounds, characteristic of lively interaction, emanated from the partly open door. When I returned from the yard, they were dressed properly and sat around the kitchen table. The one officer

was leaning forward, completing a form. Catherine, he said. We have inspected the lodgings and circumstances and shall recommend an increase in your fostering allowance. Frankies fits and Georgies general ill health require a considerable amount for medical costs. We shall allocate a generous allowance to cover those. Subsequent to their interaction, the officers inspection had been cursory at best. They had not inspected the sleeping quarters or the unhygienic bathroom outside. Her evil tactics had been successful. I tried not to think about the orgy we had witnessed, but again, the explicit display haunted me. I could not understand Kitty exposing herself without shame and I was certain that she would have allowed the officers to abuse Bertie or me if we had not run away. I felt that I was to blame for Berties discomfort, because I should have removed my vulnerable young brother earlier and prevented him from witnessing it. I chided myself for not protecting him. The incident had shown Kittys disregard for both Bertie and me, yet she, the woman who was well rewarded for our security and who should have protected us, had orchestrated the horrible attack on our morality.

Every day Bertie and I played under the apricot tree for most of the morning. A familiar loud two-note whistle sounded and a man on a tricycle with a large bin in front came slowly around the corner. Hayea groenmielies. he sang out then whistled again. He continued the repertoire repeatedly, stopping only when someone called him over to buy his wares. Many people, mainly domestic house cleaners, came out, bought from him, and then he cautiously mounted and slowly rode on again. He chanted his familiar song and whistled. Florence always wore ill-fitting slippers and when she walked, she dragged the slippers on the ground, making a swish, click sound. It was so familiar that it seemed simply to be part of her. She waddled rather than walked to the gate and bought six of the fresh smelling heads of corn, paying the vendor a shilling. Bertie and I helped her pull the long leaves and brown hairs off the mealies. After helping her, we ran down to the corner of Fifth Street where a construction crew was resurfacing the intersection. For several hours, we watched as big trucks dumped scalding asphalt in heaps, ahead of a steamroller. The frightening machine was, in almost every way, a normal locomotive with big metal drums instead of wheels. It sounded exactly like a train locomotive and huge clouds of smoke billowed from its great smokestack. A stoker filled the fire chamber with coal and a loud train whistle discharged hissing steam continuously.

As the lava-like material was dumped, teams of labourers wearing galoshes spread and levelled it with wide rubber brooms, singing a rhythmic chant joyously as they worked. Then they stood aside waiting for the steamroller to flatten it. The tar was hot and each time the roller ran over it, it left a perfectly smooth surface from which steam arose for many minutes. The team was mostly Zulu and, being great showmen, they delighted us with their wonderful traditional gumboot dances and songs each time they waited for the next load. When they noticed us, they waved in greeting and smiled happily. Their smiles were enchanting because they were full, happy and authentic. We appreciated these magnificent people and clapped each time they danced, watching captivated until the bigger children returned from school.

All seemed well for a time and we often visited our mother when she was not at work. She had returned from the clinic and was living in a single-level rooming house just four houses down the street, with a man several years her junior. Gerhard was a tall, foxylooking man and I disliked him from the instant I laid eyes on him. He was disrespectful and would send our mother on errands as he cockily lay on the couch

chewing gum. For some months though, Mommy looked happy and healthy, almost revelling in her conquest of a younger man, even though his lack of consideration and concern seemed to have escaped her. She had secured a job in the kitchen at the Roxy all-day bioscope in Plein Street in the city and she supported him because he did not work. One afternoon she visited us and told Kitty that the case would be coming up for review soon. I did not know what she meant but for the rest of that weekend, Kitty was extremely pleasant, giving us cookies and sweets and even giving us each a shilling, which we used to buy heaps of sweets at the King Chinese Store on the corner close to the house. Her hand-outs aroused my curiosity, because cruelty and immorality were normally Kittys primary characteristics. Our mother was blissfully unaware of them. On the following Monday morning, accompanied by our mother and Kitty, Georgie, Patricia, Bertie and I boarded a tram to the city. We walked a long way and then entered a large courtroom and sat on a long wooden bench. A police officer took us children out to another room, locking us in. The windows had thick round bars and a single bench against the wall. It was ages before the police officer opened the door again. I immediately noticed the absence of our mother and I instinctively knew that she had been prevented from

coming back to fetch us. Kitty stood outside beaming at us. The magistrate has ruled in my favour, she expostulated, From now on, Im your boss and your mother can do nothing about it, she finished delightedly. By the sheer force of circumstances, our mother had been compelled to surrender us to Kitty. My mother Edith was a gentle person who never challenged anybody. To her detriment, she always just let things go to prevent confrontation. Her pliability was frequently misused and eventually, after suffering at the hands of all those she had trusted, she became a pathetic woman without direction. Instead of receiving help from the people around her, she became their victim. To Kitty, spiriting Ediths children away from her was a resounding victory and she callously used all her available resources to ensure that we would never be returned to our mother. This was to prove my mothers final undoing as she gradually let go and started her spiralling slide into Hades.

Taking my hand outside the court cell, Kitty called Georgie and Patricia to follow her. As she nudged me along, I shouted. Leave me alone. You are not my mother. You wont be my mother, ever. I hate you.

Somehow knowing that we had now officially been placed under Aunt Kittys guardianship, I jerked my hand from hers, ran past her and the police officer, and pulled open the door of the courtroom. A few startled people turned to look at me and I shouted, Where is my mother? I added, We are not rubbish. You cannot take us from our mother. Aunt Kitty hates us and she allows rubbish people to do dirty things to us. She burns us with cigarettes, I continued. Although she had not even heard what I had said, the magistrate with the black toga stood up and said, Get that child out of here. Just then, the police officer reached me. Grabbing me by my shirt, he lifted me and held me tightly as I kicked and struggled. He took me out of the courtroom and closed the door behind us. In the passage he said, If you don settle down, Ill throw you in the cell again and if you are there alone, the ghost will come and choke you. What rubbish, I said. If you believe in spooks, then youre stupid. A dishevelled Kitty jerked my arm, gave me a tremendous smack and said, Youre going to be sorry when we get home. Youre far too big for your boots. Seeing that the police officer was still there, she addressed him, Oh, Frankie has fits, you know. Trying hard to regain her synthetic poise, she slanted her head backwards and walked away quickly, dragging

me along as I looked back and saw the police officer looking at us with pity. He shook his head as he turned away and shuffled around the corner.

On the way home Kitty jerked me by the arm into a busy chemist. She pretended to be browsing through lipsticks and bottles of nail polish, but rather than replacing them in the display racks, she stuffed them into Georgies and my pockets. She shooed us out, saying, Cmon were going to miss the tram, grabbing my hand and dragging me behind her. I realised that we had just blatantly stolen from the shop and I was troubled by the sheer audacity of the act. Alarmed and deliberately speaking loudly, I said, But Aunt Kitty, you stealin an the police will catch us. Nobody paid us any attention. In Loveday Street, Kitty bought us all pies with gravy. At the table, she took the lipsticks and bottles of nail polish from us and placed them in her handbag. Then she fished out two one-shilling coins. Giving one each to Georgie and Patricia, she said, Heres a shilling for each of you for being good. Frankie, you get bugger-all because youre a horrible, hateful devil. Soon after we boarded the waiting tram I blurted out loudly, Im not a devil and I dont get fits either. You know it Aunt Kitty; its you and Paul making up my fits.

Shocked by my unexpected and accurate outburst, Kitty smacked my face so hard that I felt dizzy. I saw the startled conductor and the horrified passengers in the tram looking at me as I stood up from the floor. The driver had slowed the tram to a snails pace, but the conductor waved him on and walked purposefully to Kitty. Missus, he said sternly. You arent allowed to beat a child; only common class people do that. He abruptly walked away, having soundly admonished her.

When we reached home, Kitty took a big leather belt from behind the door and approached me forebodingly. My fear was like a living thing and I felt very small indeed, as she raised the belt high and beat me repeatedly on my face and body. Then she poured Benzene on my shirt and set it alight with a match. My shirt burned and she beat me mercilessly while Georgie and I tore it off. The terrible physical scars of that attack remain to this day. At last I managed to break loose and run out the back door. I vomited on the landing and ran across the yard, hiding behind the scrapped Willys-Overland car. CHAPTER 3

The neighbours step in

After Kitty set me on fire, I was determined to let my mother know the truth, so the next Saturday afternoon, I walked to her flat intending to tell her everything. Nobody came to the front door when I knocked, so I walked down the driveway. On the top step from the yard, I saw my mother on the landing, holding her right hand up to shield herself. O God, no Gerhard. Please, not again, youll kill me, she screamed. In the doorway, I saw Gerhard holding a vase. He swung it, hitting my mother in the head and she fell down, out cold. Instead of running towards the steps, I ran along the wall, grabbed the garden fork and ran back to my mothers aid. Already beside me was the neighbour Mr van Vuuren. He had jumped over the wall separating the two buildings. Gerhard saw Mr van Vuuren coming and hastily retreated into the flat, shutting and locking the door in a single motion. Bending down to help my mother, Mr van Vuuren yelled to his wife to call the police and an ambulance. Mommy stirred weakly and whispered, Im going to lose the baby, Jannie. I was more bewildered than ever, because I could not understand what she was referring to.

The ambulance siren became louder and a crowd of curious onlookers guided the two medics to where my mother lay. After treating her, the medics carried my mother to the ambulance and sped away, sirens wailing. Minutes later, Gerhard came out through the open front door of the flat. He was carrying a big brown suitcase and his guitar. He was startled when he saw Mr van Vuuren heading towards him and broke into a run, leaving the older Mr van Vuuren behind easily. When Mr van Vuuren returned, he was breathing heavily, pale and very angry. The tears and dirt had dried on my face but Mr van Vuuren gently put his arm around my shoulder. Come, Frankie. Come and have a cold drink and some cake with us, he said. Mrs van Vuuren walked over to me, bent down and gently cradled my head on her shoulder. She hugged me for a long time before she took my hand and led me to the door. Mrs Kelley walked across the road and entered the house too, greeting the Van Vuurens and me. Mr van Vuuren pulled a chair away from the table and sat me on it. He sat down at the table and looked at me, smiling. Mrs Kelley sat on the couch and Mrs Van Vuuren went to the kitchen. Mr van Vuuren put his hand over mine. You mustnt worry about your Mommy because Gerhardll never hurt

her again, he said, Do you want ice cream? We have plenty here, he said. No thanks Unca Jannie, I better go home cause Aunt Kitty will hit me for coming to my mother. She hates my mother, I said spontaneously. For a long moment, he looked very deeply into my eyes. Frankie, do you get many hidings? he asked almost sadly. Mrs Kelley and Mrs Van Vuuren leaned forward. They did not anticipate my reply. Unca Jannie, I replied. Aunt Kitty hates me and she hits me, specially when I tell her about Paul. Today I came to tell my mother what they all do to me, because I am going to run away. Humouring me, he asked, Where will you go and what do they all do to you? You are a bright and lovable boy, why do you think Aunt Kitty hates your mother? She says that you are a good boy, but that you keep her awake when you have fits. I blushed then blurted out, I never have fits. I scream when Paul puts himself into me and it hurts me. Aunt Kitty also plays with Paul and I see it cause they do it on my bed. It gives me ugly dreams an I havent got someone who I can tell it to. Aunt Kitty also burns me alive an makes us steal for her an its filthy, so I am going to run away. The childish but mature outburst surprised the adults and they looked at each other and then most curiously at

me. Mr van Vuuren leaned forward and put both his arms around me, holding me tightly. He did not speak but I felt him sobbing. It was a silent, emotional moment and it was a long time before anybody spoke. Frankie, I will talk to Aunt Kitty, but you must sleep in Porkys room tonight. Wait here for a while, said Mrs Kelley. She looked at Mrs van Vuuren who was already rising and together they went out through the front doorway. Margaret, their daughter, entered and said to me, Aunt Kitty told my mom that you wet the bed an you are very naughty because you are a stealer an a queer an shes going to tell your mommy that youre bad.

It was a short time before the adults returned. Mrs Kelley entered the room first, followed by Mrs van Vuuren, Kitty, Mrs Petroncelli, Timmy and Paul. I was fearful. Everybody sat down, although nobody noticed Margaret still sitting at the table. Mrs Kelley spoke loudly to Kitty, barely concealing her contempt. You, Kitty, are a sick stinkin bitch. Your molestation of these and even your own children is no less than that of your son and you need your bloomin head attended to.

She asked her straightforwardly, her voice reaching a crescendo, Are you encouraging your sons sexual attacks on these kids? If so, I shall personally hit the shit out of you, you callous afterbirth. In fact, stand up now so that I can let you feel the pain that these kids feel. She was yielding to her fury and at that moment, she was hell unleashed. Without stopping, she turned to Paul and said, Paul. It is a criminal offence to be filthy with small children. Do you realise that they put buggers in jail and may even hang you for sodomy, and that is what Frankie says you do to him? Paul replied cockily, I didnt do anything to Frankie. He is a liar and just wants me in trouble. He came to my bed and played with me. My mother and Uncle Timmy know about it and have said that Frankie must leave or I must go and stay by Ellen. Timmy stood up abruptly. This is a disgusting subject and I think that we must forget it, he said, looking very uncomfortable indeed. Why must you leave your home if Frankie is the bad person, Paul? Mr van Vuuren asked, ignoring Timmy. You are a liar Paul, and If you are hurting Frankie, you should say that youre sorry and try to be kind to him, he continued. Like a snarling cat, Kitty jumped to her feet and said, Seeing that you are all against Paul, I shall send him to

live with Ellen and then I will look after Ediths rubbish until the next review. I dont know what Ill do then, cause Ive resigned my job. She carefully avoided the reference to her molesting me. Mrs Kelley retorted calmly. Kitty, you left your job because you are an avaricious bitch. You get plenty of money to care for these kids and even more than that, you get a special allowance for Frankies so-called fits. You, Katherine, get far more money for looking after the kids than you do working. The only money you earn is by throwing your legs open. Frankie will sleep at my house until we have a chance to see if you can keep the kids. Mrs Petroncelli was also incensed. You is baraka, ees mean rubbish, but you ees some more bad. Me keel you iffa you make bambini cry some more, she said, pushing Aunt Kittys head back with her fist. Deflated, Kitty said, Frankie can sleep at your house tonight, and tomorrow I will move Paul to Ellen. She seemed exhausted as she gathered her handbag and walked out of the room. Disconsolately, Timmy sat with his head resting on his hand and his elbow on the armrest of the couch. He appeared disappointed and it seemed news to him that Kitty was having sex with other men. He gratefully accepted the full glass of brandy offered to him by Mr van Vuuren. Margaret and I were playing with tin cars on the

carpet. We were not interested in the argument between the adults, I had, however, heard and understood every word and felt an emotion I could not describe. It was something like fury. The men were conversing and drinking brandy, and the women were drinking coffee and talking amongst themselves. Mrs Kelley gathered her handbag, old hat and raincoat. Rising to leave, she greeted everyone, bent down to hug Margaret, and took my hand as we left. I looked back and shouted, Bye-bye Margie. Thank you Uncle Jannie, thank you Aunt van Vuuren, and I waved. We crossed the dark road briskly. It was raining and small drops of rain stung my arms and legs slightly. Mrs Kelley held me against her and we ran a little, reaching the gate just as Colleen opened the door with a bright smile. Mommy, is Frankie coming to stay with us forever? Colleen enquired. Mrs Kelley shook out her hair. She replied, I dont think so, but I believe that Frankie is a tired little boy and should have a wash and then sleep in Porkys room. Porky was 16. He was a scholar and played soccer and quiet and friendly young man outside in the street. He was tremendously successful rugby at school. He was a who often played with us somewhat of a champion

among the little kids because he always broke up fights, and gave us sweets. He was a very caring and respected individual. After a lovely warm bath, Mrs Kelley gave me a pair of fluffy pyjamas and while I put them on, she stared incredulously at the raw burn injury on my back before she walked me to Porkys room. Feeling slightly apprehensive, I hesitated before entering. When Porky stood up from his bed, he smiled, took my hand, and said, So you want to fight, huh? He playfully flipped me over his shoulder and tossed me onto the bed then jumped on me and tickled me under the arms and on my belly. I screeched with uninhibited laughter until I was breathless. He jumped in beside me and pulled the blanket high in the air, letting it fall to cover us both. Mrs Kelley laughed a little and pulled the door shut as she left. Porky was suddenly serious, resting his head on his hand, he said, Now tell me Runt, why you dont fight back when people bully you? I think Paul is going away to reform school. Uncle Jannie said to my mom that hes calling the welfare tomorrow. He threw the blanket over our feet then lay on his back with his arms folded behind his head. He said quietly, Runt, Georgie and Pat love you. They speak to my mom and they cry a lot, but you must know that they are also beaten. They are afraid to do anything. God is going to punish Aunt Kitty and you will be alright. Sleep now and dont pee on me or Ill

knock you out. He laughed, turned his back to me. Gnight Runt. Gnight Bully. I fell asleep comfortably and did not dream.

Even the commotion of the children getting ready for school did not wake me. I felt the world spiral and ended up on the floor with the blanket, sheet, pillow and mattress all tangled around me. Cmon Runt, we have to make the bed. It was Porky, who had overturned the bed with me still in it. Moms made breakfast and its getting cold. Together, we made the bed and Porky threw his dirty clothes into a bucket. We went off to the kitchen where we had porridge, sausages and a steaming cup of coffee. Porky, Barbara and Colleen were talking excitedly while I ate and then they departed noisily, carrying their booksacks over their shoulders. Mrs Kelley and I went over to the Van Vuurens home. Mrs Van Vuuren invited us in, hugging me as she took me to the couch. Sitting me down, she said, Now you just sit tight, Frankie. Aunt Kitty and another lady are coming to talk to you. You just tell the truth and remember, well be here to help you. As Mr van Vuuren walked in from the kitchen, there was a loud knock on the front door. He swirled around

and went to open it. The social worker Mrs Enslin, Kitty, Paul and the big police officer walked in ahead of Mr van Vuuren. I slid off the couch and sat on the floor while they took their various seats. Once formal greetings were out of the way, Mrs Enslin pompously said, Okay, we can now sort these things out. I am Mrs Enslin from the department of welfare and I believe, Mr van Vuuren that you wish to lay a complaint. I must advise you that Frankie is not very truthful and has probably connived to create a commotion. If that is what you believe, Mrs Enslin, I see no purpose in this inquiry. You should be here to help children, not to destroy them, he said. I have seen the injuries that this boy has suffered, as you can too. Where does that horrible burn on his back come from? he continued. I have witnessed him asking for food and seen him wearing rags for clothing. Kitty wears expensive clothes and jewellery and they are always having parties. He was almost breathless. At her decadent parties, she often announces to her captive audience that Frankie takes fits. Frankie knows that she is lying but he has learnt not to correct her. Such a daring challenge to her lies would lead to a cruel beating. The four children are not well kept, he said, incensed. Mrs Kelley chipped in. I have had much to do with the kids and I fear that their circumstances make them very insecure indeed. Stopping suddenly, she said, In fact I

dont even believe that these two youngsters should be in this room. Frankie, Paul, go and play in the back yard, she said. Paul ignored me as we sat side by side on the steps. I saw a dark look in his eyes. After a long time he said to me that he was probably going to go to boarding school, and that it was all my fault. I retorted saying, Paul you wont go away ever, because I am always scared of you so youll always be there. I am sorry about the trouble I have caused but I must stop being scared of you. He stood up, picked up a quince stick, and for a moment, I felt an illogical fear that he might hit me, but he started hitting leaves off a tree. He did not speak to me again until Mr van Vuuren appeared at the doorway and called us in. I stood shyly in the middle of the floor, twirling my hair with my hand and not looking at anyone in particular. The police officer spoke first, addressing Paul. Young man, youre lucky that no charges are being brought against you. You are going to live with your sister Ellen and you are to stay away from the children that your mother is looking after. If I hear anything about you, you will be off to a reformatory. Do you understand me? Paul stood quietly biting his nails, then nodded his head and looked at Kitty, who was looking down at the tissue in her hand resting on her lap. Her eyes were

bloodshot and she was sniffing melodramatically. Mrs Enslin dunked a rusk into her coffee and it broke as she lifted it to her mouth, splashing into her cup. While she fished it out with her teaspoon she said, her mouth still full, Frankie, you are a delinquent and I shall be making out a probation report. She scooped another spoonful of mushy, soaked rusk into her mouth. Before she swallowed, she said, If you speak about running away again, I shall have you locked away in Norman House. I knew neither what a delinquent nor what Norman House was. I did, however, know that she had atrocious table manners. Mrs Kelley rose and said to Kitty, Frankie is not a bad boy, but you nearly burnt him to death. Katherine, if you do not look after those four children properly, I shall adopt them, so help me God. You are not caring well for them, and this unmannered cow, she said, pointing to Mrs Enslin, is too stupid to see through your avarice. To Mrs Enslin, she said directly, You are friends with Kitty, but youre as big a bitch as she is, you frustrated, fat, sexless cow. You cant understand the child of a stinkin skunk, let alone human children. Mrs Enslin blushed, sputtered and then coughed. Mr and Mrs van Vuuren laughed a little. The police officer dropped his pen and bent down, pretending to find it, even though it was in plain sight and within his reach. He was laughing too. For no reason that I could voice, I had the instinctive

certainty that those who were supposed to represent the interests of enslaved, captive children were not above corruption. Like Mrs. Enslin, they often protected themselves from accusation by overlooking the details that a molested child could report. My own brother had almost been a statistic of the inefficiency of state officers who had been appointed for the protection of children. Paul walked out of the house and I stood looking from one adult to the other, saying nothing. Mrs van Vuuren offered a dramatically sobbing Mrs Enslin a tissue. Just as we were about to leave, Kitty said to Mrs Kelley, Listen, we are still having that party tonight. Please bring everybody over and lets forget all this. We don need to be cross with each other. Okay? Then she, Paul and I left. Kitty was a bit flustered and walked fast as I lagged behind. The police officer helped Mrs Enslin to her car. Mr and Mrs Van Vuuren and Mrs Kelley stood chatting on the veranda. When we arrived home, all hell broke loose as Kitty grabbed the belt. You stupid little skelm, she screamed at me. You run around spreading shit about my children, Ill show you, she said as she hit me across the back mercilessly. Finally she said, Tell those bastards Ive hit you again, and Ill kill you. Now piss off to your room. Paul sneered as he wordlessly slapped me hard

behind the neck and threw me against the doorjamb. His mother laughed cruelly. Bliksem the little shit, she said.

Kittys daughter Ellen, her daughter Cathy, Michael and his girlfriend Marie arrived during the early afternoon to help prepare for the party. They set to work making snacks and putting bottles of beer and cold drinks into a large tin bath with plenty of ice. Paul was out and Bertie was sitting on Florences lap on the landing by the door. Pat, George, Barbara, Colleen and Margaret were playing in the street, and Cathy joined them. Porky and I were lying behind a tree on the sidewalk in front of the Kelley home. We had attached a piece of gut to one of Georgies striped school ties, which we concealed in the long grass on the other side of the street. We waited patiently and soon saw a black woman carrying a box on her head and a young black man walking slowly in our direction. As they came closer, Porky started pulling the gut slowly. The tie came into view on the street; it bore a striking resemblance to a snake. Seeing it, the woman screamed, dropped the box, and ran with the young man hot on her heels. We squealed with laughter and then went to help her pick up her meagre groceries. All the while, she was saying,

Haai nee man. Haaikona. Hamba! She laughed a little as she and her son walked away. Then we played Blikaspy, a popular childrens game for a time. Above us were mottled grey and pink clouds. It was drizzling lightly and small gusts of wind rhythmically swayed the leaves of the oak trees. On the horizon, the sun peered out from below the clouds, enshrouding the earth in an immaculate glow of warm colours, gold, red orange and sapphire. From the ominous clouds and beautiful sky, thousands of flying ants descended, flapping their gossamer wings clumsily. We chased after them, hoping not to catch them. It was a beautiful, colourful sunset and the ground glistened with silky silver wings.

Because of their interdependence, good people and bad people of the tight-knit community of few resources interacted by attending frequent parties. All malice was temporarily forgotten and the parties were a great way of strengthening the bonds that had always existed. At the party, no mention was made of the earlier friction. Ellen, Kittys daughter and her husband Gert, her sister Maria, and Marias husband Tony, Frank, Tonys half brother and his wife Jesse, Mrs Kelley and her neighbours, Mr and Mrs Petroncelli and the Van Vuurens were there.

The music was loud and people were eating, laughing and dancing. I sat behind the couch watching the adults enjoying themselves. As it got later, Kitty pointed her cigarette at me. She said something, which I did not hear, so I shook my head. She glared at me and getting up, she led me to the bedroom and motioned me in. Now lie down and sleep, you little bastard, she said. Sleeping children were lying on the beds and on the floor. I climbed onto my bed and covered myself with the blanket but I could not fall asleep. Eventually I got up and went outside. It was a beautiful temperate evening and, some distance from the house, crickets were chirping, frogs were croaking and a bright moon lent a gentle mystical glow. The background noise of the party was hardly noticeable.

As I walked barefooted in the garden, I became aware that the crickets and frogs had become quiet. I heard a shuffling in the tool room beside the coal shed and stole towards the doorway, staying in the shadows. Through the open door, I could see the thick wooden workbench and to my dismay, I could clearly discern the

lower bodies of the people using it. Shadow obscured their bodies from the waist up. The 19-year-old Michael was standing on the large toolbox at the near end of the workbench. Naked from the waist down, his trousers lay crumpled around his ankles. A foot was visible upon each of his shoulders. He was making love to someone and was obviously close to climax. I watched the activity spellbound. Until then, his partner had been moaning softly but I had been unable to identify her. Suddenly her legs started bouncing uncontrollably on his shoulders and her moans rose to an almost deafening crescendo as she flung her hands around his back. My fascination turned to unbridled disgust and horror. It was his mother! Kitty! Disregarding the clamour, I fled through the underbrush and neither of them saw who had been observing them. My mind was again in turmoil and I felt the blood rushing from my face as I hid behind the apricot tree. When I awoke the next morning, the house was quiet. Florence told me to go to Mrs Kelley. The lounge and kitchen were in total disarray. Broken glasses and bottles lay strewn over the floor and tables, and Florence was trying to clean the place. Haai, ai, ai, ai, hulle het gefight so hierso vannaand, she said. Florence knew, as we all did, that Timmy and Kitty frequently had violent fights during or after their drunken

parties. Almost invariably, Timmy would hit Kitty with the force of a truck and she had her two unlabelled, flat brown bottles, simply embossed with poison, at the ready in her dressing table drawer. She used the bottles to threaten him that she would drink the fluid if he should beat her again or if he should throw her out. Normally, he ended up wrestling the bottles from her hands and hiding them.

After brushing my teeth and combing my hair, I ran to Mrs Kelleys house and as I opened the gate, she came to the door still wearing her gown. Come and have some milk, Frankie, she said. Inside, she sat me down at the table and placed a glass full of milk and some cookies in front of me. She said, Aunt Kitty has been taken to hospital because she had a nervous breakdown. Florence will be looking after you children until Uncle Timmy comes home. If you children need help, then come to me when you need to and, oh yes, she added, Your mommy had a little sister for you this morning and will be home in two days. What is going to happen to Paul, Aunt Kel? I asked. She replied that he would continue living with Ellen and wouldnt be back soon. CHAPTER 4

Schizophrenia raises its head

Timmy arrived later while all the children were playing in the street and shortly afterwards, Florence left, carrying her big bag to catch the last of the rumbling and rattling old green Putco bus that travelled up Fifth Street every afternoon. If she missed it, she would have to walk the many miles to the Simmer and Jack mine in Germiston, and she would arrive well after dark. Back at home. Timmy took a quart of White Malmsey wine from his bag and opened The Star newspaper, rustling it noisily each time he turned a page. After dinner, he seemed a little preoccupied, and did not speak much, sending us off to bed shortly after dark. He clearly wanted us out of his way.

A noise woke me very late that night and I saw the door to Uncle Timmys room was ajar. I could hear whispering from his room and quietly stood up. What I saw in the faint illumination cast by the lounge light and what I heard, knocked me for six and caused bitter bile to rise up in my throat.

The portly Timmy was standing naked between the bed and the dressing table. He made me think of a pig as he stared, drooling, at my sister, Patricia (8) lying on the dressing table with her nightdress pulled up to her waist. She wore no undergarment. Her smooth, youthful body was exposed grotesquely. Georgie (10) was standing close to her with his pants around his ankles and in coarse whispers, Timmy was encouraging the boy to penetrate Patricia, physically taking his genitals and guiding him towards her. Nine-year-old Valerie was sitting on the bed naked, with her feet up on the bed and her legs wide apart. Timmy turned to her, gently pushed her down on the bed, and cautiously put himself over her. As he moved, she whispered hoarsely, Dont worry you are not hurting me, Daddy, I was missing you. Her lust was raw and unrestrained, yet childlike in its directness. The scene before me seemed even more vulgar than what I had witnessed between Kitty and Paul. My own brother and sister were being sexually abused and I felt distressed and debased on their behalf. It suddenly occurred to me that Patricia had been behaving inappropriately for a long time. I recalled that she frequently raised her skirt and stimulated herself when Paul, Michael or other male adults in the family were observing her. I was horrified to think that my sister was probably initiating the intergenerational sexual abuse upon her.

Tears welled up in my eyes. I felt violated in the extreme and returned hastily to my bed, pulling the blanket over my head and trying to sleep. But the obscene picture replayed continuously in my mind and the noises from the next room kept me awake for a long time. The next morning I expected things to be different, but the routine was unchanged. I was surprised that there seemed to be no embarrassment between the members of the household and that they all went about their business as usual. I detected no tension between the perpetrators of the offensive behaviour of the night before. Timmy left to take the tram to work; Patricia, Georgie and Valerie danced to the gate to meet Barbara and Colleen for their walk to school. I, in the meantime, felt very different indeed. Now I understood what Georgie had meant when he had told me that many things were wrong in the house.

The syndrome of alter-ego creation is common in abused children, and is widespread in abused women too. Victims create this entity to protect them and to change their perspective of their own lives. Almost invariably, the alter ego recedes as conditions improve. In some cases,

it may lie dormant for the rest of the victims life. In abused children and abused women however, the victims are ashamed to divulge the abuse going on in their homes, and take the blame upon themselves. Eventually, they lose all self-esteem because they feel that they deserve their abuse, as in the case of our mother. After witnessing the ultimate act of incest in Uncle Timmys bedroom, I suddenly felt as though another individual had taken control of my mind, at that very moment, my life changed. The debauched adults around me had forced me to react as many abused children unwittingly do; they develop a second persona to help them cope with unfamiliar situations. I became able to clearly identify the schizophrenia, and I learnt how to identify, separate and control the two individual characters within me. In me, the alter ego was not the six-year-old boy-child, but rather a dangerous and independent manifestation of my complex brain. In those few seconds, I realised that I was mentally ill. I had gone over the edge. In my desperate creation of this doppelganger, I changed significantly and soon afterwards, confounded many adults who had previously believed that they could confidently use me without retribution. In hatred, the doppelganger was merciless and in love, kind and compassionate. I was dismayed by my discovery and in

unmitigated alarm, I found out how to make this protective being emerge when I wanted it to. The whole issue was horrifying, but the notion was extremely compelling. Another syndrome rarely understood by people who are untrained in child clinical psychoanalysis, is that a child as young as five or six witnessing decadence or experiencing actual sexual abuse, invariably results in long-term destruction. The child either intellectualises the action, as I had done, in which case he or she takes on the characteristics of an adult, being able to discuss the matters of sexual exploitation or other forms of abuse in a much more mature way than children who have never been exposed to such events. On the other hand, the more volatile child becomes severely disturbed and, as had happened to Georgie, reacts differently. The most common reaction in these cases is that the children develop speech retardation or in some cases, complete communication withdrawal. Suicidal actions or self-inflicted injuries are common in them. Where the child is unable to cope with the event, severe traumatisation may be indicated by delusional enactments, often depicting matricide or patricide, for example, a child may stab dolls etc., with sharp instruments. Georgies attempted suicide had given credence to these theories, which were still in the earliest stages of research at that time. I was becoming devious in my way of thinking because

I was seeing and experiencing things that no child should even know about. While boys much older than me primarily thought about marbles and Dinky cars, I was so deeply involved in my sexual prison that I rarely thought about anything else. I was continuously devising means of escape from the wild, horrendous nightmare, which was sex. At about that time, I stopped joining the family at the table for meals and would take my plate to the lounge where I would sit on the carpet and eat. I became morose and withdrawn. At first, Kitty ordered me to join them, but soon she stopped doing so because she knew the reasons for my disassociation. I developed a terrible shyness, twirling my fringe and casting my eyes downwards when anyone, even my own siblings, addressed me. I generally avoided close contact and in a very short while my relations with Bertie, Georgie and Pat became stilted.

One morning, an ambulance came slowly and quietly down the street and stopped in front of the open gate. Two medics walked to the back doors and opened them. A medic helped Kitty down the two steep steps and

then they pulled a stretcher out. On it laid Mommy, and she was holding a furry bundle. Little noises emanated from beneath the blanket. I knew that it was my new little sister. I almost tipped the stretcher as I hugged Mommy with happiness. Bertie was skipping up and down, singing Mommys home repeatedly. He breathlessly shouted a greeting, Hello Aunt Kitty. I did not look at her at all. Mrs Kelley, yelping joyously, skipped across the street to-wards us. A loud three-toned whistling, a deep rumble, and cattle mooing from the direction of the shop announced the arrival of the coal vendor. A big team of strong oxen drew his cart. For a moment, I was unsure of where to focus my attention. Kitty dropped three shillings in my hand and said, Frankie my lovey, please ask the coalmen to bring us six bags of coal. She turned and followed the medics while Mrs Kelley ran ahead to open the door. The medics came out of the house, one of them carrying the rolled stretcher over his shoulder. They drove past the stationary ox wagon and went on their way. Again, I stood in wonderment because the two adult Zulus greeted me saying, Ja Basie? The medics had not greeted me at all.

The enormous, soot-covered Zulus carried the big bags of coal effortlessly on their shoulders to the coal shed in the back yard. Each time they passed me, they smiled, exposing brilliant white eyes and teeth and very pink lips within their soot-blackened faces. Referring to me as Basie indicated their respect for other people and more specifically for whites. It somehow seemed out of context to me that these wonderful men treated me as a superior. It was truly sad in many ways. When they finished, I gave the three shillings to the driver who, holding his long whip clapped his hands awkwardly and curtseyed. He climbed up, turned and smiled, then whistled and shouted Yo hah as he cracked his whip loudly in the air and whistled again. The oxen moved forward reluctantly. The wagon seemed to creak under its burden, the wheels making a dedicated grinding sound on the road as it rumbled along. Yo hah, the driver yelled again cracking his whip. He looked back and smiled again, knowing that I was soundly impressed. The showmanship, typical of his Zulu nation was his prize possession.

Late that evening, I walked on the pathway leading to the bathroom; a bright full moon illuminated the night in a ghostly glow. In the moonlight, I saw a figure sitting on

the top step of the landing in front of the bathroom; it was Cathy, Ellens nine-year-old daughter. In the darkness, I could see that she was stimulating herself. Surprised by my appearance, she stood up and told me that she had found a secret place to sleep and that I should come with her to see it. She led me to the Willys and I saw that the door closest to the wall was open. We climbed in and sat on the back seat. The big people are getting very noisy and that is why Im sleeping here. You can also sleep here if you want, she said. The moonlight cast a bright glow into the car and it was pleasant sitting privately in the shadows. Cathy reclined with her upper body against the backrest, in the shadow of the door. The moonlight illuminated her legs since her dress was short and I could see some of her white undergarment as well. I was becoming uncomfortable and looked away but she seemed not to notice. Instead she moved lower, letting the seat pull her dress up a little more. She kept moving in the same way until she was totally exposed. In the moonlight glow, she placed her hands between her thighs and slowly stimulated herself, gradually bringing her hands higher. The dissimilarity with the interaction between Paul and me increased my disquiet. It was an overpowering feeling. My voice was hoarse, I was breathing hard, and fast, and I was having great difficulty speaking. Yes Ill

sleep here, I finally gasped, moving slightly closer. Have you ever done it with anyone before? she asked unembarrassed. My senses were acute but strangely, I felt the need to escape. I forced myself to remain where I was and silently listened to her. The interaction for the next half hour caused me to experience great pleasure but tremendous emotional upheaval and I remained silent throughout. She seemed surprised when, suddenly succumbing to a terrible rage, I grabbed her shoulders and pushed her away, shouting loudly. It was the first violent emergence of my alter ego and Cathy, being a girl and unable to defend herself, was the first person that I could hurt physically. My reaction was, in fact, a tormented plea. I squeezed her flesh as hard as I could and pinched her arms painfully. I grabbed her breasts and felt great wrath as I lost control in the torture that I was exacting on her; twisting her skin before I punched her hard in the stomach. She looked terrified and fell backwards against the seat, exhausted. I hated her for having initiated the unexpected sexual activity. My mental suffering at that moment was intense. I cried out loudly in frustration and Cathy and I were both astounded. I was very afraid of the cruel second character that

had taken over my mind. I had gained a strange pleasure from causing her as much physical pain as I could. I had sadistically felt like squeezing her throat until she could no longer breathe and I realised that I had come close to doing so. I opened the door and hurriedly escaped from the car. As I pulled up my shorts, I turned away from Cathy and we walked along the path without speaking. Through the side door, we slipped into the dark room where the other children were sleeping soundly. We lay down on different beds, not even whispering good night. While I lay thinking, I realised that it was indeed a strange anger that had generated my violent response to Cathys provocative display. I had wanted to hurt her very badly. Her seduction had contributed to my already developed mistrust of people who were older than me. My last chilling thoughts before falling asleep were about the psychological destruction that had overpowered me. My complicated reflections caused me great discomfort. I was painfully aware that I hated people touching my body. In a simple way, I acknowledged the dementia that permeated me, and I had responded to the bewildering and dangerous ferocity that my dual personality had brought upon me. My mind was in torment, incapable of digesting the volume and intensity of the renewed disturbance forced upon it. In a childish way I realised that I was psychopathic. I had a nightmare again but did not scream out as I

woke although I found that I had ripped the buttons from my pyjama shirt and had scratched my body, leaving deep red welts across my torso.

When we awoke on the next day it was Christmas, many women, including my mother and Kitty, were preparing food in the kitchen. The men were in the lounge and on the veranda drinking coffee from large enamelled mugs. Mr van Vuuren and Gerhard were talking alone on the path. It appeared that for the sake of decency, they were being congenial, but were speaking absorbedly. Michael stopped outside on his Vespa and pulled it up onto its stand. He strode down the pathway smiling and waving to the children. He entered the lounge, greeting, kissing and shaking hands with everybody. He stood a good six inches taller than anyone else who was present. For a short while, he remained standing as his fiance Marie handed him a glass of Coke, and then he sat down on the coffee table. He was an amiable individual who rarely became involved in the run-of-the-mill gossip, and everybody who knew him admired him. He had completed his training at the police college in Pretoria and was a constable at Jeppe police station. After conversing for about 20 minutes, he called me and said that if I would like a ride on the Vespa, I should

go and help him move some books. He and Marie were moving into a flat. I eagerly accepted and was soon sitting on the back seat of the Vespa. I held him tightly around his waist until we stopped outside a block of flats in Bertrams. We entered the flat and, coming in, he locked the front door behind him. He sat down on the couch and told me to sit beside him, which I did. He put his hand on my leg, stroking it languidly. This was taking place scarcely 18 hours after viciously attacked Cathy, My mind raced fiercely briefly felt a rush of fear and again knew that trapped. I did not want this to be happening anticipated the direction this interaction was taking. I had and I I was and I

I was very surprised when, with his left hand, he pulled his trousers zipper down and fumbled, exposing himself with much effort. He took my hand and put it around him. Resigned to the unavoidable, I impulsively rubbed up and down faster and harder, knowing that it would be over quickly if I did so without protest. Fortunately it was soon over and he wiped my hand with a clean handkerchief. I was grateful he had not touched me under my clothes. We rode back home on the Vespa. I had always liked Michael and did not want to think of him in an unkind way. My admiration for him remained intact. I did, however, feel embarrassed and even concerned that

somebody may see my guilt in my face. It confused me that I had found the experience almost enjoyable. During the night though, I had the nightmare again. I shook uncontrollably and I felt bewildered. CHAPTER 5

Going to School for the first time

My first day at school was somewhat chaotic. Children, parents and teachers were milling around in the playground. Mommy and Kitty had taken me to register with the school board, and the other parents were trying to complete the formalities of getting their children registered. The principal, Mr Levy, welcomed the new children, thanked the parents and asked them to leave. After a long speech, four female teachers went to the front of the rows and led the children to their respective classrooms. Our teacher, Miss Cindy Davis, read out names in pairs and directed each pair to a heavy wooden double desk. Soon we had sat down and she called each child by name and said that we should tell the class about ourselves. At break time, when the bell rang, almost all the children took out their lunch boxes. William, the boy sitting next to me and I had not brought anything to eat.

Miss Cindy was a sympathetic teacher and soon became aware that I was different from the others. I was withdrawn and did not communicate well with other children. One morning she said, Frankie, please come with me, Mr Levy needs to speak to you. A slight rumble among the other children indicated that they thought I was in trouble and I felt a rush of apprehension. Knocking her ruler side-on on her desk, Miss Cindy sternly but kindly said, Cmon children, no more noise. Willie, you come too. Cmon now kiddies, be quiet now, she said, heading towards the door. The rumble increased as we left and she walked briskly ahead of Willie and me. She took us to Mr Levys office, asked Willie to wait on the bench in the corridor and accompanied me inside. Mr Levy was a stern-looking man in his early fifties, over-weight but not obese, and completely bald on the top of his head. His straight moustache stood out. It was greying, as was the dark-brown hair around his head. He looked, in every sense, like the typical school principal. Come in and sit down, Frankie, he said, offering me his hand in greeting. Sit down, Miss Davis, he invited, pulling out a chair for her. When he finally sat down, he lit a cigar and said, Okay Frankie, I need to know more about you. Tell me about your family, he said, shaking ash from his cigar into an uncharacteristically chipped, porcelain ashtray. Well, Sir, I started. I don know much; I have my

mother, two brothers an a sister. My one brother is Georgie an my sisters Pat; they both in Standard 1 here in school. Knocking ash off his cigar, he said, What about your other brother? Who do you live with? My little brother is Bertie an we all live with Aunt Kitty who looks after us an the welfare pays her, I answered. He questioned me about many things. I answered frankly in most cases, but was silent when I felt I could not speak freely. He asked me why Georgie, Patricia and I never brought food to school. I replied defensively that Kitty was often sick at night and most times, was still asleep in the morning. I did not mention that she drank a lot and simply couldnt care whether we ate or not. Miss Cindy suggested to him that I might have a low level of autism. As she broached the matter, he stopped her and said that my pre-admission IQ tests indicated exceptional results. He said that my withdrawal and dysfunction appeared to be fear-related and due to diminished selfconfidence. Frankie will soon be appearing before the psychological department of the school board. In the meanwhile, we will record his progress for them, so that they can do their work. Both he and Willie must join the school feeding scheme, he concluded.

Mr Levy asked Miss Cindy to remain before sending me back to my classroom. Willie was standing outside and asked me, What did he say? I was still talking to him when the door opened and Miss Cindy came out. She said she wanted me to return to the classroom. Gently taking Willies hand, she led him into the office. As I walked along the corridor, I wondered what autism meant. When I entered the classroom, Nicky Havenga, nominated as the class prefect, stood up from Miss Cindys chair carrying a ruler in his hand. The children knew that he was a class bully. He sauntered towards me and asked, What is all this special treatment, special boy. I ignored him and as I walked to my desk, he came up behind me and struck me a mighty blow on my back with the ruler. The girls cried out but I did not respond except to turn towards him. He struck me across the face with the ruler again. I winced but continued on to my seat. I sat down and suddenly grabbed the ceramic inkpot, which was a fixture in each top corner of the desk. Here special bully, you miserable dog, I shouted loudly and hurled it at Nicky. It hit him squarely on the forehead as he turned around. He fell down and the children feel silent except for a few girls who giggled. Then a cheer arose just as Miss Cindy opened the door, letting Willie in

before her. She helped Nicky to his feet and administered first aid, without a word. The silence had a sound of its own. At break, Nicky approached me with amazing bravado. He shoved me backwards repeatedly, and a shout went up, fight, fight. Soon a crowd had gathered around us. Nick pulled back his foot and as he forcefully swung it forward, I stepped back, jumped up and kicked him squarely between his legs. I had never been in a fight before and found the experience bitter. I was afraid of Nicky and expected retaliation. I was nervous and withdrawn when I returned to the classroom. Miss Cindy looked annoyed and Nicky was standing beside her, crying. She stood up and beckoned me with her finger. She took Nicky and me to Mr Levys office in silence. Mr Levy first asked Nicky who had caused the fight. Nicky explained broadly that I was always causing trouble in class and that I would not sit down when Miss Cindy was out. He said that I was the cause of the other children being noisy and that I had thrown an inkpot at him. The injury was, of course, clear for all to see. Mr Levy took his cane from behind the door and told me to bend over. He caned me twice. I was determined not to wince and I certainly did not cry but instead, I looked directly and scornfully into Nickys eyes as I took the beating. When we left Mr Levys office, Miss Cindy crouched

down and put an arm around each of us. Why did you not explain what the problem was, Frankie? In addition, Nicky, you did not tell Mr Levy the truth. Im afraid I shall have to appoint another class prefect. Nicky was clearly embarrassed by Miss Cindys decision and he looked as if he were about to cry. Miss, this little sissy thinks hes clever but I don need my big brother to sort him out, I said as a cryptic warning which I hoped that Nicky would heed. I felt a devious pleasure when Miss Cindy told the class that she was appointing Jason as the new class prefect. It was devastating to Nicky. He remained the class bully and I often confronted him publicly for it. For a while, he avoided me but then he started to try developing a friendship with me. I stubbornly ignored his overtures. It no longer seemed characteristic of me to forgive.

I had enjoyed the schoolwork from the first day and my natural artistic talent was often highly rewarded. At the end of the first month, one of my paintings was on display in the school hall. During a school parent-teacher function, which Kitty did not attend, I received a first-prize certificate with a blue ribbon and a wax seal on it. It was a painting of the courthouse, ablaze on the lower floor

with smoke and flames billowing from the doorway. Kitty was screaming from a window above the fire holding both her arms in the air. A fire engine was standing beside the building and fire-fighters were unrolling hoses to douse the flames. Many spectators were watching. It was a dark picture indeed, but the childlike perspective was excellent. Miss Cindy asked Willy and me to wait outside the meeting room. We sat on the polished benches in the corridor. Miss Cindy called Willy and it felt like ages before he came out. He seemed relaxed and touched my shoulder as he broke into a skipping run. After a while, Mr Levy called me in. I felt apprehensive when I entered the room. Five adults sat around a long wooden table on red leather chairs. Mr Levy showed me to a leather chair opposite him and next to a smiling woman wearing a white dustcoat. A man sporting a greying beard and a balding head stood up and shook my hand, saying that he was Dr Mason, a childrens psychiatrist. The woman sitting beside me was a child clinical psychol-ogist, the woman in the green dress was a social worker, and the woman in the red dress was a probation officer. They each stood up and shook my hand as Dr Mason introduced them to me. They seemed friendly enough but I was suspicious. Dr Mason placed a framed board with many shapes drawn in the base in front of me, then shook a box and

overturned it next to the board. Two pieces fell to the floor. I climbed down from the chair and picked them up. He said that I should assemble the puzzle when given the instruction. He diverted my attention by turning around and picking up my painting, which had been resting against the wall. As he sat upright again he said Go and pressed a button on a stopwatch. I immediately started constructing the puzzle, which was very easy. I had assembled it within seconds. When he pressed the stopwatch again, he showed the watch to the woman sitting next to me. She smiled and opened her mouth, then she turned to look at me, ruffling my hair. The woman took my painting from Dr Mason and said, Frankie, I want you to tell me about this picture. Explain why your flames are red and black and anything else that you know about the painting. Indicating each section as I explained it, I said, This is the courthouse, and the lady with the white wig, who took us away from my mom, is burning to death inside. The fire is red and the smoke is black. All fire engines are red and the firefighters cannot get their hoses turned on because too many people are getting in their way. That is Aunt Kitty and she is going to get killed. Dr Mason interrupted me. Stop, stop Frankie. Dry your face a bit, he said offering me some tissues. It was only then that I realised that I was sweating profusely and it was running down my nose, dripping onto my shirt. I was breathing fast and deeply. He continued Frankie,

why is Aunt Kitty not going to be rescued? I looked at him and then at each woman in turn and then back at Mr Levy. The women looked decidedly uncomfortable. I climbed down from the chair and said, I dont want to speak to you anymore. I headed towards the door but Mr Levy jumped up and caught me. He held me against him and rubbed my hair soothingly. Frankie please dont leave; go back to your seat. Sit down and tell us why you dont want to speak anymore. He guided me gently back to my chair. Neither Mr Levy nor any of these professionals had recognised the silent emergence of my alter-ego, with whom they now came face-to-face for the first time. I started speaking before Mr Levy had reached his chair. I dont wanna listen to big people anymore because they lie and speak in words which I dont understand. I dont know what is autism an big people dont let me say what I think. The woman next to Dr Mason looked at me with surprise. I dont want to talk to that lady there, I said, pointing at the woman in the red dress, because she is a probation officer an only people in jail get probation officers. The woman reddened. The bell rang and Mr Levy seemed relieved. He told me to go and play and to return to the meeting room when break was over. I ran to the playground and Willy

caught up to me. What did they say? he enquired as we sat together on the high concrete step. I described briefly what had happened and then said, They speakin about a lot of junk cause they tryin to get into my mind. The bell rang again and the children made their way to their classrooms. I went to the meeting room. Although the door was open, I knocked and stood twirling my hair with my finger until Mr Levy invited me in. He gestured me to my chair and I went to sit. The woman in the red dress was now sitting at the head of the table. Frankie, said Dr Mason, Autism is a term used for a very special type of person, who has very special needs. It is not a person who has anything wrong, but only a person who needs more attention. You do not need to know more about it at this stage because you are not autistic. Probation, on the other hand, means to probe, that is, to see if you have any problems which may influence your future development. I am speaking adult words to you because I know that you are very intelligent and can understand them, even if you cant say them, he continued. Now we need answers to some questions, and only you can provide them. Are you going to help us, Frankie? he asked.

No, I said as I folded my arms in my lap. A shocked silence ensued. They realised I would not easily be intimidated into answering their questions. After a long silence, Dr Levy said, Frankie, theres a playgroup at the Hofland Park every afternoon and Im willing to bet that you dont know who the social worker is? I looked up and directed my full attention at him. He stood up and came behind my chair then he growled and tickled me under my arms until I squealed and everybody was laughing. He whispered in my ear, Nurse Marge. I couldnt believe what he had told me. Tears suddenly blurred my vision and I was embarrassed that I had to wipe them away using the short sleeves of my shirt. The adults looked at each other with victorious smiles. I was extremely happy and was ready to answer all their questions. Dr Mason began again. Yes Frankie, Nurse Marge has left the childrens hospital and is now the social worker for the region.1 He let the news sink in and then continued, Let us get back to the painting, Frankie. Why is Aunt Kitty not going to be rescued? I answered that Kitty was hiding from my mother in a

Each of the less affluent suburbs had an after-school play centre for children whose parents were both working and invariably came off late in the afternoons. Social workers were appointed from responsible adults who could assist in emergencies.

wrong part of the courtroom when it was set on fire. My mother was looking for Aunt Kitty to tell her that the lady with the wig wanted to give the children back to Mommy because Aunt Kitty burnt my back. But you said that the lady with the wig had died in the fire; how would she have been able to tell Aunt Kitty that? he asked. The big policeman who worked there would have told her, I said, pointing to a figure in black in the bottom corner of the painting. The lady standing next to the policeman is my mom. I noticed that all the women were writing furiously in their notebooks. Frankie, how did the fire start? he asked, giving no indication that I had already said that the fire had been set. Gerhard started the fire to kill my mom and Lydia so that he could take all her things because he doesnt want to work. Who is Gerhard? Why do you not refer to him as Uncle because he is a man, is he not? Hes Lydias father and Lydia is my baby sister. He hits my mother and steals her money, and he keeps us from seeing her. Mrs Petroncelli has asked my mom to leave the flat because Gerhard isnt allowed to visit their house anymore. I cant call him uncle because I dont like him and he is nothing to my family. I dont see Gerhard in the painting, Frankie.

No, I answered, He ran away cause the police are going to hang him and he is hiding by his friend. Who is his friend? It is Aunt Kittys son Paul and they sleep in the same bed and play with each other every night. Gerhard is not a nice person, I added unnecessarily. My own answer surprised me because I had never associated Gerhard and Paul. I also had no reason to consider Gerhard as a person who could have a sexual attraction to males. The adults had been looking at each other and giving small signals throughout the interview but I had pretended not to notice. I was becoming bored since I did not understand why they were so interested in the painting. Did Gerhard or Paul ever do these things to you? Dr Mason asked. Paul did but Gerhard didnt. I answered frankly, although I felt myself blushing. I started twirling my hair with my hand again. Did you enjoy it when Paul did these things to you, Frankie? I dont like it when Paul does it because he forces me to do things which make me sick. I cant sleep and I cant get away either because he is strong. Aunt Kitty knows that he does it, but she says nothing. She also touches

him and Uncle Timmy puts himself in Valerie, I said. The adults exchanged worried glances but did not indicate that my graphic description had confirmed their previous fears. They now knew without a doubt that in our home, all the foster children were victims of sordid abuse. Just then, the school bell sounded and Dr Mason said that I had to see him and the women a week later. He smiled but seemed extremely concerned. I greeted everybody with a handshake and then ran to my classroom to fetch my booksack. Miss Cindy was preparing to leave and had waited for me. As we left the classroom, she put her bag of books and her handbag on her one arm. She fished her keys out of her handbag and held them in her mouth. First taking her handbag in her free hand, she took the keys from her mouth and locked the door. I followed the awkward procedure with amusement and then, grinning broadly, asked if I could carry her books. Seeing my amusement, she realised that she could probably have asked me to hold the books so she could lock the door more easily. She laughed. What are you giggling at, you little girl? she teased, and we burst into fits of laughter. I liked Miss Cindy. She reminded me of Nurse Marge. I found her to be a best friend and a disciplinary figure at the same time. My respect for her was growing rapidly.

As we walked to her car, she playfully squinted sideways at me, raised her head in a sort of ladylike manner, and then with two fingers, lifted her keys from her handbag most delicately. We laughed at her mimicry of the way in which high-and-mighty women expected other women to act. I felt so happy to have such a wonderful teacher, and as she drove away, I waved vigorously at her.

After school I ran along Fifth Avenue, directly to Hofland Park, kicked down the ground-anchored gate latch and pushed open the gate noisily. Nurse Marge was at the door of the occupation centre and looked up when the gate screeched and clanged shut. With unconcealed delight she ran towards me as I sprinted across the 100 metres of lawn to reach her. She stretched out her arms, grabbed me, lifted me as high as she could (which was not very high), pirouetted several times and put me down again. My baby, my baby, my wonderful baby boy! she exclaimed. It was truly a joyous reunion. I felt complete again. The other children in the playgroup had been members for some time and were used to Nurse Marges compassion and love for children.

They all witnessed the emotional display and were happy for her. I loved the dear woman who brought light and trust into my life again. In the light afternoon breeze, she ran back to the centre, holding her skirt against her legs with one hand and holding my hand with the other. To me it was a momentous occasion, and I hopped alongside her happily, my booksack bouncing against my back. Inside the spacious play centre, groups of children were concentrating on various projects and rarely divided their attention. Some were chasing each other through the hall, entering through one door and exiting through the opposite one. They were yelling at the top of their voices. A festive ambience prevailed and for a moment, I wondered at the tremendous patience of Nurse Marge. Tell me everything, Frankie. How have you been? she asked, My, you do look good. I have heard that youve become teachers pet at school. Come and sit on my lap, she continued. I dropped my booksack and went to sit on her lap, reaching up and putting my arm around her shoulder. Nurse Marge, I think bout you every day. Ill come every day to be with you and the other children. I feel happy now, I said. Smiling, she led me to a group of children who were pasting small strips of newspaper onto an inflated

balloon. The figure had already become a grotesque shape. Children, this is Frankie and he will be joining you to finish our clown, she said. The children greeted me and shifted to make place for me at the round table. I felt welcome immediately. Leaving us, Nurse Marge went to each of the other groups, assisting here and giving advice there. It was wonderful watching her communicate so well with her charges. Outside, angry clouds had gathered and short bursts of thunder announced approaching rain, so Nurse Marge told us to start packing the art equipment away. The afternoon had gone by far too quickly. When the occupation centre was tidy, a few children hugged and kissed Nurse Marge, then scurried out to reach their homes before it rained. A few of us remained and when Nurse Marge locked the activity centre, we helped her carry the many books, paintings, projects and other paraphernalia to her green Citron. Somehow, she managed to fit everything in and once packed, her car resembled a small moving van. When the other children had left, she squatted down, took my hands in hers, and said spontaneously, My dear little friend, I am so happy to see you again. You look well and I hope that you will come to us every day. I have a great surprise for you, she said, kissing my cheek. She

stood up, opened the car door, which opened from front to back and climbed in awkwardly. What is the surprise? I asked in anticipation. If I told you, it would not be a surprise any more, now would it? she said smiling brightly. Shifting the dashboard-mounted gear lever of her car, she looked in the rear-view mirror and turned towards me. We have so much to speak about, and it cannot be too long before we do. Goodbye now, see you tomorrow, she said, as she allowed the car to move forward slowly. The car stopped at the sign on the corner, then turned left onto Fourth Street and climbed the steep incline past Athlone Boys High School. Left alone, I became aware that my bladder was full and I ran down Fourth Street to Eighth Avenue where we lived. It was raining hard now and I was soaked from head to toe. I kept my head angled forward to stop the rain running into my eyes. I could only see the ground a few feet ahead of me. I turned in at the gate and ran through the mud in the garden. Not seeing Kitty and Bertie standing on the veranda, I ran full force into her. My shocked surprise and fear of her, made me release the contents of my bladder. I stood bewildered as the hot liquid ran down my legs and into my shoes. You dirty, stinking, rotten little swine, Kitty shouted, grabbing my hair. She turned, bumping Bertie out of the way so that he fell on his behind on the veranda as she dragged me on my knees through the lounge to the

kitchen. You come late and then you still piss on my floors. Ill kill you today, you rubbish. Ill kill you, she screamed, her shrill voice rising. I could see and smell that she was very drunk indeed and I knew that crying would fuel her rage. Hysterically taking the thick leather strap from her apron pocket, she started beating me violently over my head, back, legs and face, screaming insults continuously. Then, dropping the belt, she took both my hands and pushed them onto the hot plates of the coal stove. I wrestled with her to no avail. The beating was becoming so violent that Florence ran in the back door and grabbed hold of the belt, restraining Kitty. As they wrestled, Florence was wailing, Aai Miesies, ayikona Miesies, nee, die kind hy sal dood, ayikona,2 giving one last desperate shove, she sent Kitty sprawling over the table. Grabbing me by my arm, she picked Bertie up, ran into the bedroom, and locked the door. By the time Florence had taken clean clothes and a towel from the cupboard, Kitty had retrieved an axe and was chopping into the bedroom door, the sturdy wood starting to splinter. Florence unlocked the side door and ran towards Mrs Kelleys home.

No madam, no madam, no, the child will die, no

Come, open the door you little bastards, cause if I chop it down, Ill chop you both dead. I swear to God! Kitty yelled, still chopping the door wildly. Bertie had crawled under the bed. He was looking around wild-eyed and was screaming with terror. I saw Florence and Mrs Kelley run past the window on the veranda and heard them run into the front entrance and through Kittys bedroom. A long and noisy scuffle ensued, and then there was silence. Mrs Kelley knocked on the door and said, Okay Frankie, you and Bertie can come out now. Hearing that the struggle had died down, I raced to the door and unlocked it. Florence was sitting on Kittys back, forcefully holding her hands behind her as she lay face down on the floor. You are a maniacal drunk Kitty, said Mrs Kelley. You will never see these kids again. Resting on Florences shoulder, she stepped over Kitty then helped Bertie and me climb over her too. Trotting along the road in the light drizzle, we went to Mrs Van Vuurens home. The two women bandaged both of my seriously burned hands. That damned filthy bitch is stinkin drunk again and tried to get to these two kids with an axe, she said to a startled Mrs van Vuuren. Ill kill that bloody stupid bitch, she continued. Wiping her wet hair back from her forehead she said, Cookie, bring me a cup of tea, I really

need some, Frankie, you and Bertie go dry yourselves in the bathroom and Cookie we need to phone and convene everybody, , she finished. She was exhausted and very angry, which was far from characteristic of Aunt Kel.

Most of the community, including Mrs Els, the Petroncellis, the Richards, who were new residents, and my eldest sister Eileen arrived. Eileen, taking Cecil my eldest brother with her, had run away two years earlier to live with a 42-year-old man, Johnny, in Troyeville. They had escaped the insecurity, relentless hunger and fear of the frequent violence in our home. Johnny had offered them lodging in order to indulge his fetishes, more specifically, to develop his collection of child pornography. The actions of this paedophile would later have a profound effect on their lives, for they were little more than amenities for the entertainment of his acquaintances, who consisted of malevolent, secretive and immoral paedophiliac opportunists. It was rare indeed for Eileen to have anything to do with the family, and her arrival was a surprise to me. Although it had been years since we had last seen her, she did not acknowledge Georgie, Pat, Bertie or me in any way. We scarcely recognised her. I was amazed to

see her as a woman, and not as the girl that she was when I had last seen her. She was 18 now and I knew she was a prostitute at the Central Hotel in Main Street, Jeppe. She was avaricious and a cunning shoplifter. Her appetite for money was insatiable and she had no qualms about how she accumulated it. She was dressed in a loose-fitting floral dress and flat slip-on shoes; her hair was scruffy and her demeanour indicated that she was bored. Understandably, her attitude was a result of years of total estrangement from us. Walking past her, I smelled the strong, sickly, sour smell of the unwashed female. She clearly did not care much for her personal hygiene. Mrs van Vuuren and Mrs Richards went to the kitchen to prepare coffee and a calmer Mrs Kelley followed. Having come home from work, Mr van Vuuren entered, greeted everybody and flopped down on the luxuriant arm-chair. A tense atmosphere prevailed and the conversation was restrained until the women brought in the coffee. Mrs Kelley spoke first, Kitty is a psychopathic bitch and is dangerous to these children. She tried to reach them with an axe today and if she succeeded, I am convinced she would have killed them, she said. Mr van Vuuren was suddenly very alert and sat upright. I believe that Kitty has created a situation in which we, the community, will have to put a hand in. We

must accept the responsibility of safeguarding the children, he said. Kitty is out of control and shes incapable of any compassion. Shes had control over these kids for too long and does no good for them, he continued, almost sadly. Turning to Eileen, he asked her, Eileen, what can you do about the problems of your brothers and sister? Surprised that Mr van Vuuren had addressed her forthrightly and, since mature, intellectual conversation was not her fort, Eileen hesitated before she spoke. Then she blurted out, Im getting married soon and I dont want them destroying my life. You people must put them in a childrens home. Im not interested what you do with them. Her insensitive response seemed to annoy everybody present. Sarcastically Mr van Vuuren said, In that case Eileen, I believe that you cant contribute a significant resolution in this situation. Maybe you should rush home to your fianc? He stood up and walked her to the door. She did not greet anybody and did not look back as she followed him out. When she reached the road, her foot hooked into one of the grass traps that Georgie and Porky had prepared for us in the long grass. Her unladylike curse as she crashed to the ground caused Mr van Vuuren to laugh and then she stood up, wiping the dirt from the front of her dress, cursing loudly. When Mr van Vuuren returned, he sat down, lit his pipe and reclined, crossing his legs. I think we should

house the kids for a few days and see what Kitty gets up to, he said. These kids are growing up under deplorable conditions, but Kitty has befriended the social worker and no recourse is available to them. An incensed Mrs Petroncelli spoke for the first time. Porco fals! she exclaimed, reverting to her native tongue. I keel that putana iffa she heet thees piccolo bambini again. Francisco and Umberto stay in my house and Giorgio and Patrizia stay by you Signora Kelley, she said. Mrs Kelley said, We must arrange it then. Kitty is an un-stable alcoholic and we believe that she is a sexual predator. She should not be supervising vulnerable young children. These kids have no hope in hell of having a decent childhood with that bitch, she added.

Mrs Kelley, Mrs Van Vuuren and Mrs Petroncelli accompanied us to the house. Kitty was still lying face down, but on the bed now. She was in a drunken stupor. Florence was sitting on the bed, still holding Kitty down, and she rose respectfully when we entered. Frankie, go and pack clothes for you and Bertie, said Mrs Kelley. Then she shook Kitty roughly. Wake up you drunken bloody bitch!

Kitty stirred and became reasonably lucid as she turned over and sat up. Whats going on? she slurred. Without warning, Mrs Kelley slapped her hard. You, you bitch, have injured these kids enough. We are taking them from you until you can show that you are ready to have them. The little ones will be by Giovanna, and Pat and Georgie will be living with me, she said. Mrs Van Vuuren chipped in. Youd better get yourself some attention, Kitty. You are not well and you endangered these kids lives today. Have you no shame? Feeling very uncomfortable indeed, Florence offered the women coffee. They all answered yes. Kitty put her feet into her slippers and they all went to the lounge. Bertie and I went to the bedroom and bundled very few of our clothes into Hessian sacks which had been lying under Pauls bed. We dragged the laden sacks to the lounge. I moved awkwardly with my painful, bandaged hands. Timmy had just arrived home from work. He was tired but listened intently as the women described the events to him. He shook his head several times. Kitty, he said. If you do not stop your drinking, you must leave my house. I am sick and tired now, and I think you should give these kids back to their bloody mother.

Infuriated by his candidness in company, Kitty replied, What about me having to cook, wash the clothes and keep the house clean, and then still have time for the children? Florence entered carrying a tray bearing five mugs of coffee. She humbly curtseyed, placed the tray on the table and then left hurriedly because it was already late and she had probably missed her bus. Unfazed by the brief interruption, Timmy said, Kitty, you do buggerall in the house, so dont come with that bullshit to me. I am sending you to Tara, the psychiatric hospital. Youll come back a different person. My intention is not negotiable and well do it tomorrow. Kitty reddened as the women nodded in agreement. She was about to express her discontent but looked up into Mrs Kelleys eyes and decided to remain quiet, surrendering to her fate. She was still swaying drunkenly from side to side.

The next morning a taxi rattled down the road and pulled up outside the gate. The driver sounded the horn twice. Timmy carried Kittys heavy suitcase and they got into the taxi and drove away. Georgie, Patricia, Valerie and I walked to the gate to

meet Barbara and Colleen. When they joined us, we walked through the night lane3 between the houses. A house in the middle of the block had a large apricot tree that bore abundant fruit. Large branches of the tree hung into the lane and the ripening fruit looked very inviting indeed. Georgie jumped up and grabbed onto a branch. Swinging his body, he moved hand over hand until he stood on the fence. Reaching even higher, he pulled himself up and sat with his legs over the highest branch, and then he proceeded to pick as many apricots as he could, stuffing them into his shirt. The nerve-tingling activity of stealing apricots caused us great amusement and we giggled excitedly. On sudden impulse, I shouted, Georgie, police, police. Georgie got such a fright that he released both the branch and his shirt. Swinging his stabilising leg back over the branch, he lost his footing and tumbled out of the tree. He and many apricots rained down to the ground. We all screamed with laughter, bending and slapping

Since most houses in the suburbs did not have flushing toilets, the toilet was outside and had buckets to which access was gained by a hatch in a gravel lane running between each two rows of houses. The buckets were removed and emptied each night by a tractor and trailer crew who drove along the lane. Therefore, the description night lane was used.

our knees and holding our stomachs. Standing up, Georgie looked around bewildered. There was not a car in sight. He was so flustered that he stepped across and slapped me hard. I was laughing so much that I didnt even feel the pain. Then my good-natured brother joined in our laughter as he rubbed his multiple injuries. We lost no time in picking up the fallen fruit from the ground and we were indeed a merry bunch as we continued on to school. The comical events made us giggle sporadically. Oh, how I loved my charming and genial elder brother.

Miss Cindy was waiting for us at the school gate. She put her arm around my shoulders and said to Georgie, Patricia and me that we must not attend assembly, but should go directly to the meeting room. We walked casually but sensed in each other a feeling of trepidation. Dr Mason stood at the door and gave us a welcoming smile as he invited us in. The women were sitting in the same seats as they had the day before, but Mr Levy was absent. A young man sat next to the woman with the green dress. He stood up and shook our hands, introducing himself only as Kenneth. Dr Mason stood leaning on the backrest of Georgies chair. Finally, he addressed the adults, Frankie is a boy who has an IQ of 116 and yet he is withdrawn and an

under-achiever. Subjected to domestic abuse and, we suspect molestation, he is withdrawing from his age group and is becoming rebellious. Due to his circumstances, he may be eligible for institutionalisation, and that is for us to determine, he said. Frankie, he said. I want you to stand on the table. He waited as I slipped off my shoes and then helped me climb up onto the chair and onto the solid table. Take off your socks and all of your clothes, he ordered. I was deeply embarrassed but did as he said, although I did not remove my Jockeys. He held my arm, helping me to keep my balance. Then, to my great surprise, he picked up a cane from the chalk tray of the blackboard and approached me. I bent my body sideways, retreating. He allayed my fear saying gently, I will never beat you, my boy, so do not fret. He approached me and asked me to stand upright. Pointing the cane at the marks on my legs, he asked Pat, What is this? Aunt Kitty hit Frankie because he peed in his pants and was late from school, she replied. Dr Mason pointed out the vicious burn scars on my back, and the bruises on my face and neck. Then he asked Pat to wait outside the room. The women, Kenneth and Dr Mason inspected my body meticulously. The woman with the green dress placed a drawing on the table. It showed the outline of a person from the front and another from the back. She

feverishly drew every mark that appeared on my body. Dr Mason suddenly put down the cane, came up behind me, and ripped my Jockeys down. Bewildered and embarrassed, I bent down folding my arms over my genitals. Everybody inspected my buttocks. The woman, who was recording the bruises on my body, came and counted the black and blue lines and the cigarette burns, then went back to her drawing. Dr Mason said, Now Frankie is going to stand up and you will see the assault he endured to his private parts. Dr Mason had exceeded the boundaries of acceptability. His blatant disregard of my modesty had been disrespectful in the extreme. It was as bad as any previous sexual attack that I had experienced and I felt the blood pounding painfully in my head. My embarrassment was indescribable and I knew that the sick man was fooling with me just as much as any of the previous abusers had. I again felt trapped but could endure no more and jumped from the table to the floor. Grabbing my clothes, I ran naked out of the room, headlong into a group of children walking to their classrooms. They and I gasped in surprise. Startled, I spun around and ran right back into the meeting room where, in front of everybody, I dressed myself very quickly. How could I trust anybody who was supposed to find out if my psychological condition could be repaired by

treatment, if the very people who had been trained to assist were also embarrassing me? Dr Mason had been touching me without my permission and I no longer trusted him. I knew that I would get assistance, but he would not be the person to give it to me. He, like the others, had violated me and had left me feeling dirty and ashamed. Georgie, a patient person, had been sitting quietly all the time. Suddenly he sprang up and, putting his arms behind him like a diver, stood between the adults and me, shielding me as I dressed. Quietly but menacingly, he challenged them, Leave my little brother alone. The startled professionals returned to their seats without speaking, but they observed us warily. Georgie defiantly kept his gaze upon the adults as we edged backwards out of the room. Outside, Pat was sitting on the bench swinging her legs. She inquisitively stood up as Georgie and I approached. I bent down and put on my shoes, which I was carrying in my hand, and although I was able to do so myself, Georgie kneeled and tied the laces for me. As he stood up, I looked deeply into his eyes. Tears rolled down my cheeks and he too, wept silently. The traumatic events had been too much for us both. We cried unabashed in each others presence and then I took both his and Pats hands in mine. Georgie, I said. Im

gonna run away. He knew I was referring to the continuous abuse at home and the time that he had told me he wanted to run away. Nothing more needed to be said. He picked up his booksack and the three of us simultaneously started running. We ran out of the school and along Fourth Avenue. Turning right at Fourth Street, we ran on to Eighth Avenue and then to the house. Florence was happy to see us as we entered. She curiously followed as we raced to my bedroom. As we started packing my bag, she automatically assisted, folding my shirts neatly. Where is Basie going now? she enquired quizzically. I am running away, Florence, I said, lifting my bag. These ugly people cannot hurt me again. I have no friends and nobody to make me feel better when I feel bad. She put her hand up over her mouth, her thumb alongside her nose then she started crying softly, swaying back and forth. Georgie came and put both his arms around my neck, his head on my shoulder, his face turned away from me. Pat put her arms around Georgie and me, and the three of us sobbed quietly. Then Florence put her great arms around the three of us. We cried together for many minutes. Feeling all this love, I briefly felt a sting of apprehension. I started doubting that I should go, but their concern increased my

determination. Georgie, Pat and Florence stood at the gate waving to me as I ran towards Fifth Street. I waved back one last time before turning the corner. As soon as I was out of sight, I felt a glorious explosion of liberty. I enthusiastically ran past the Total fuel station and on to Broadway. Turning left at Broadway, I swung my bag over my left shoulder and held it with my left hand. I held my right hand out and put my thumb up, swaying it back and forth. Giving no thought to my predicament, I found the experience of running away completely invigorating.

The first car to come by screeched to a stop. Grasping my bag tightly, I ran to it and opening the front door, saw a tall, gaunt and untidy man driving the car. He had an unruly look about him, which I disliked at once. I said that I was desperate to reach Jan Smuts Airport. Okay, come on, get in, Im going that way, he said in an odd, almost impatient way, removing his satchel from the passenger seat and carelessly throwing it onto the back seat. As we drove along the airport road, he frequently glanced at me, as if sizing me up from my face down to

my legs. Small farms lined both sides of the road and Gillooleys Farm had woods of eucalyptus and pine trees and a narrow dirt track leading between them. I just want to go pee, said the man, turning off the road onto the dirt track. When he stopped the car between the trees, he said, Walk with me because I cant leave you alone in the car. It isnt safe. Feeling the need to relieve myself as well, I agreed and walked with him. As we walked, he opened his zipper. When we reached the tree line, he half turned his back to me. In a hoarse voice he said, You must also pee now; we have far to go. I lifted the leg of my shorts and urinated on the long grass. The man turned more towards me and I saw that he was looking down at me. He was masturbating slowly but purposefully, ensuring that his actions were very clear to me. Embarrassed I looked away as I prematurely stopped urinating and covered myself. Suddenly I felt a strong arm around my neck and a hand rudely tearing my shorts down. Lifted completely off the ground, I kicked and thrashed to no avail. I realised with desperate certainty that screaming would serve no purpose, since there was no building in the vicinity. Settle down boy or Ill have to kill you, he said. Ive

killed kids before. You can take me in your mouth if you want to, otherwise youre dead. If you don want to, you can let me put it into your backside. Youre a queer and I know that you will love feeling me in you, he said. Behind my back, I felt him pulling his shorts down. I sensed the brute strength in his arm around my neck. It was beginning to tighten. Feeling a horrifying fear for my life, I cried, Please no. Ill do anything, dont hurt me, please. Do it, then Ill take you to the airport. Just do it to me. I love it when kids use their mouths, he said. He seemed to become even more aroused by his own vulgarity and he was clearly beyond control. I was certain that he was very dangerous and intended killing me whether or not I complied with his crude demands. Putting me down but keeping a firm grip on my crumpled shirt, he turned me around. With his other hand, he guided himself towards my mouth. I turned my head slightly and he slipped past my face, leaving a wet trail against my cheek. Pulling back and cursing, he rammed himself into my mouth. I gagged. The original struggle had loosened my shirt and torn two buttons off so when he least expected it, I slipped my lithe torso out of my shirt and fled into the thick undergrowth. His attempt to pursue me was futile, with his trousers

snarled around his ankles. I ran through the scrub, tripping every so often in the tangled long grass. As the vegetation became greener, I knew that I was close to the Braamfontein Spruit4. I bore left and followed the river, soon arriving at the first row of houses in lower Kensington. Staying away from Broadway, I ran along Eighth Avenue to Fifth Street. Turning left, I reached Broadway and ran across the tram tracks. The blue lamp on my left beckoned. It was the Bez Valley Police Station.

The large police officer who had been at the house before, was standing at the counter, writing. He looked up as I entered and seemed surprised to see me. He smiled and said, Frankie! How are you my boy? Where is your shirt? Come in, I was about to go and search for you. The school reported you missing and Georgie said that you had run away. He came around the counter, put his arm around my shoulder, and led me to a chair at his desk. Now my boy, he said. Your troubles seem serious. Come talk to me. He brought his chair closer and sat down, resting his elbow on his knee. He listened attentively and remained silent as I


described the recent events. Lighting his pipe, he reclined and stretched out his legs, crossing his ankles in the space between us. He was indeed a tolerant man with great kindness for children. When I had concluded my account of my narrow escape, he pensively stood up and, ruffling my hair, walked past me to a table in the corner of the room. Picking up a cup, he blew into it, looked into it, and put it down again. Taking an enamelled mug, he repeated the ritual. From a blue vacuum flask, he poured some black coffee for each of us. Handing me the cup, he finally spoke. Frankie, we will see what we can do about that pervert later. You are a deeply troubled young man and I want to help you. I have always cared deeply about you and your family, but I do not know enough to be able to help. You have to tell me everything. Sergeant OMalley, the enormous police officer who directed traffic on Kitchener Avenue when the kids were going to or returning from school, walked in. He was a jolly man with great side-whiskers and had a real Father Christmas-type laugh. All the kids loved him, as he did them. He sat down and ruffled my hair, Aha, so Frankie has stopped to fetch me to join him on his holiday, he joked, putting Officer Robbies police jacket over my shoulders. Looking at the two officers, I thought to myself that

since they were in the position to do something about the decadence that went on at home, I should tell them everything. Unca Robbie, I began. Us kids are having a horrible time at Aunt Kittys house because she does bad things and hits us a lot. The other people in the street are sick an tired of her already, I said. Both officers remained silent as I related the horrors that were taking place in our home. I told them about Kittys drinking, her incest with both of her sons and her sexual attack on me with Paul. Her use of sex to influence the welfare officers was also part of my complaint. My narration to them explained Timmys incestuous act-ivities with Valerie, George and Pat, and my sudden realisation that I had created an alter ego. The officers listened, spellbound, as I guided them through the dark and terrifying caverns of child molestation and physical abuse. The beatings, drunkenness and manipulation had an immense effect on both officers and at times, each shed tears as they listened to the horrific tale of a family gone wrong. I held nothing back and when I told them about my inter-action with Cathy and the sudden emergence of the violent side of me, they stared at me in disbelief. Worse still was that I could fluently explain my own understanding of my schizophrenia. They knew that I had

already undergone severe mental damage and they were both sympathetic to my plight. After I had finished telling them all that I could, the two officers went into an adjoining room and closed the door. When they emerged, neither referred to what I had described to them. Officer Robbie said, Well Frankie, Im taking you to my home and well see from there. Cmon my boy, my wifes going to put my clothes out on the street, he laughed.

Frankie this is my wife, Aunt Joyce. She will be looking after you. Ill be back later. He kissed Aunt Joyce and bent down to hug me and retrieve his jacket. He fetched his black bicycle from the passage and pedalled away on the sidewalk. Joyce led me inside, continuously tickling me under my chin. She took me to the bathroom and ran a bath of water. She poured some clear liquid from a bottle into the water and a cloud of aromatic bubbles erupted. I removed my shoes and shorts and leapt into the bath, splashing water and bubbles everywhere. Laughing spontaneously, Joyce tried without success to avoid the splash but ended up with her dress soaked.

The luxuriant bubbles enveloped me, making me feel warm and comfortable. When I had finished bathing, Joyce stared long and hard at the scars on my back before she tearfully gave me a lovely cotton gown to wear. It fitted me perfectly. Tying the belt around me, she said poignantly, This was my little boys gown. When I looked at her as she stood up, I was surprised to see that she was crying. Realising that something other than my situation had saddened her, I wisely did not ask her what was wrong. In compassion, I cried with her and silently hugged her. The melancholy moment lingered for a while before we both regained our composure. In the dining room, she pulled out a chair and helped me climb up onto it before she disappeared into the kitchen. I looked around the room and saw many framed photographs of a smiling boy about my age. On the sideboard, photos of the boy stood in a semi circle. In the centre stood a framed burial advice with the boys picture on it. I stared at the shrine for a long time and knew that it had been wise not to ask about him. Joyce brought me a plate of food and a fork. As she placed them in front of me, I climbed down from the chair and flung both my arms around her. Just then Officer Robbie returned and a car stopped at the gate. My mother, Mr van Vuuren and Mrs Kelley

entered the dining room. Everybody sat down. My mother helped me back onto my chair and put my fork in my hand, urging me to eat. Officer Robbie was serious as he started, We have an extremely difficult set of circumstances. Frankie has made some serious allegations, which is why he must be present through-out. He is an observant and intelligent young man caught up in a nightmare world, and I must warn that I intend raising charges against several people. Its about bloody time, said Mr van Vuuren. We need to hear what happened today. All we know is that Frankie ran away. Edith, Frankie has tried to advise you of the conditions your children are living in. Kitty has carefully controlled his ability to do so. Robbie will explain further. Your children are being molested, Edith. Whether you be-lieve me or not, he came very close to being murdered today. Alarmed, my mother stood up, brushing her auburn hair away from her face. She walked to Officer Robbie and knelt in front of him, taking his one hand in both of hers. She was noticeably flustered. Robbie, she pleaded. What happened? Please tell me and do not hold back, I can take it, she stood up and unsteadily made her way back to her chair. An attempted rape was made on your son today and he managed to escape, but only just. OMalley has made

an arrest, but we cannot be sure of the outcome. Frankie is going to be subjected to much stress during the next few days, he said, shifting uncomfortably before continuing. Now, what we have come here for is to discuss certain concerns which I have regarding Kitty. Her abuse is having drastic repercussions. Your children are seriously traumatised and need counselling. Frankie and Georgie are the most seriously affected. At length he regaled the details I had shared with him. The adults sat quietly, horrified. My greatest concern, he concluded, is that Frankie has such a clear understanding of the situation, that he identifies the behaviour of a person of unsound mind. Now, for a boy of his age, that is unusual. Then, No, not unusual, downright fearful. Exposed to these horrors, the boy has been worse than neglected. The issue requires immediate attention. I am arresting Kitty, Timmy and both Paul and Michael tomorrow. You will have to keep the children until they appear before Magistrate Sinclair. After listening, horrified, Aunt Joyce went to make tea. She seemed absorbed in her own thoughts. She had cried softly many times during her husbands description of my circumstances, as did all the women present. Mrs Kelley said, Frankie is more gifted than anybody gives him credit for. The fact that he identified his emotions during and after the episode with Cathy indicates awareness beyond the range of his expected capacity. They are creating a being which nobody will be

able to control, I fear. I lay my head down upon the table. Within minutes, I was asleep.

I awoke in a strange bed with Joyce was standing beside the bed with a tray bearing a plate of food and a cup of steaming hot chocolate. What a wonderful morning! Cmon get up my lazy boy. We have to get you ready for when Uncle Robbie comes to fetch you. We have to dress you nicely because you are going with him today, she said. I ate ravenously and she returned with a dark-grey pinstriped suit, a blue long-sleeved shirt and a shimmering silver tie. Helping me dress, she said, Frankie, I had a little boy just like you. We were so proud of him and then one day he was gone. We searched all over for him, Uncle Robbie was with the team that found him, she was crying as she spoke. We have all prayed for the day that we find the person who took our little boy away. Our Lord works in miraculous ways and he chooses the time to work those miracles. Some day we will be happy again and that is why we love you so. These clothes are yours to keep. I felt all choked up and put both my arms around her

neck. Turning my head, I kissed her on her cheek. I am so sorry for you and Officer Robbie, I said. Repeating her words, I continued, Someday Aunt Joyce and Uncle Robbie will be happy again. I love you and Officer Robbie too. My voice strained to complete the sentence. We held each other quietly for some minutes. Did I hear my name, Frankie? It was Robbie. We have to rush, Sonny. Your mother and Mrs Kelly are waiting for us in town. My, you do look posh. Come give me a big hug, he said. Without hesitation, I flung my arms around him. CHAPTER 6

A life-altering ruling

On the way to the magistrates court, Robbie dropped a bombshell, telling me that the magistrate had not allowed him to file charges against anybody, due to lack of evidence. With Robbies help, our mother had made an urgent application to the court that we all be released back into her care. Robbie had made her aware of the frequent, cruel assaults on us and she was determined to put a stop to them. She was also now aware of the horrifying sexual encounters to which Georgie, Patricia and I were

being exposed. When Magistrate Sinclair entered the courtroom, she looked surprised to see so many people in the gallery. Nurse Marge, Dr. Mason, Mr. and Mrs. Van Vuuren, the Petroncellis and Timmy were all in the courtroom. Everybody respectfully stood up and when she sat, everybody sat down. The court felt like the inside of a church. Kitty was not present, as she was still in Tara, but she seemed well represented By Mrs Enslin, the clumsy social worker, who was sitting next to the prosecutor in front. We had no idea what she whispered to him, but each time that they leaned closer to each other, he nodded his head in agreement. When she took the witness stand, she gave compelling evidence. The person in question is not only being misunderstood by her community, but has become ill and has been hospitalised because of the behaviour of the children which she has fostered, she lied. I was the next witness and had to stand in the witness box. Mommy looked at me, giving me an encouraging smile. Francisco, said Magistrate Sinclair. Tell me why you ran away. I need to know why you believe that your Aunt Kitty can not look after you. Your worship, I said, having heard all the other people refer to her that way. Big people do naughty

things to my brothers and sister and to me. I am already thinking of hurting them back. You do not live there so you do not want to take us away from Aunt Kitty. Aunt Kitty is in a nut hospital now because she is nuts and drinks a lot of brandy. When she drinks brandy, she does ugly things in front of my brothers and me. The welfare officer, the magistrate said, pointing at Mrs Enslin, has a very different story to tell. She says that you are a liar. I couldnt understand everything that was being said, but I certainly understood that sexual assaults on children often embarrassed the people who were supposed to investigate them. It was also true that the appointed representatives of the authorities did not want to admit that these atrocities were a reality. The one individual who had the power to rescue us from Kittys house was Mrs Enslin, yet she had steadfastly denied the facts. Mrs Enslin is Aunt Kittys friend and she is lying. She saw Aunt Kitty hit me an she took me to hospital. You ask her. Im not speaking to you any more, I blurted. I ran from the witness stand, through the small door into the gallery and stood next to Nurse Marge, holding her hand. A rumble of conversation pervaded the court. The magistrate seemed agitated. Officer, put that child in a cell. If there are any more disturbances in this court, I shall adjourn these

proceedings. Marge stepped forward. Your worship, she said. Please let me look after Frankie. I will take full responsibility for him. His story desperately needs this open arena. I beg you, please, she continued. The magistrate signalled to Sergeant OMalley to wait. Who are you Miss, and tell me what your concern in the child is? she asked. I am a social worker, registered with the Department of Childrens Welfare. I have known Frankie since he was three and can witness to an assault upon him at that age. I am a subpoenaed witness. I have considerable influence on Frankie and I think I can help. The authorities are failing Frankie and the results are devastating. Frankie and his siblings need urgent intervention by unbiased state figures. Alright then Miss, but be very careful. I am not impressed, said magistrate Sinclair severely. When everybody had sat down, the magistrate called me to the witness stand again. Sergeant OMalley walked with me and stood beside me. I then portrayed a vivid picture of the circumstances leading to me eventually running away the day before. I described the appalling conditions in our household. But I did not explain Timmys involvement, because I had looked at him and had suddenly felt very sorry for him. Maam, I concluded. Aunt Kitty doesnt love us cos

we arent hers an she lets her own children do rude things, then she hits us a lot an also does rude things. As I completed my testimony, the magistrate adjourned the case for lunch. I could sense that my testimony had had a profound effect both on her and many others in the gallery. Robbie came and fetched me, Nurse Marge and my mother joined us, and we sat on the bench outside the courtroom. Ruffling my hair again, Robbie said, Im proud of you my boy. At three oclock, everybody entered the courtroom again. This honourable court, began Magistrate Sinclair, finds no demonstrable reason to remove these children from the care of their guardian. Without the presence of the witness, I cannot rule against her. The material proof of discord in the household has not been determined adequately. The application is not closed, but until these children can be assisted, I find in favour of the guardian. This court is adjourned, she said. A stunned silence prevailed as she rose and made a deistic exit, swaying her toga dramatically. Goodbye my god, I said astringently. The adults heard me because I had spoken loudly, and uproar ensued. Many adults laughed at my cynical observation. Others, including Dr Mason, horrified by the pure travesty of the ruling, loudly voiced their disapproval.

Leaving the courthouse with Robbie, I noticed that Dr Mason was speaking to my mother, Timmy and Nurse Marge. Georgie, Patricia and Bertie were standing with them. Robbie playfully punched Sergeant OMalley on the shoulder as we walked past him and invited him to bring his wife over for dinner. He hopped down the courthouse steps with me following closely behind him. Frankie, we have to go down to the Jeppe Police Station. They are having an identification parade. If you see the man who attacked you, you must point him out. Do you think that you will be up to it? he asked. I am okay Uncle Robbie. I will be able to point him out cos I will never forget his face and what he did to me, I said. We drove along Market Street, in those days a quaint cobbled road that made the big old Ford feel as if it were not com-pletely under control. Soon we arrived at the police station and Robbie told me to wait in the car. Some time later he returned, picked up his clipboard and said, Okay my boy, lets go. Are you sure you arent afraid? he asked. Opening the heavy door, I asked, Uncle Robbie, will

he be able to see me if he is there? I am afraid so my boy. You are going to have to touch him on the shoulder. It is the only way for us to know exactly who is being identified, We walked along a passage and entered the last room on the right. Many men stood in two rows, on a stage, under bright lights. They looked a sorry group. For a moment, I noticed one man in the back row hiding behind those in front. Over a loudspeaker, someone said, Stand still and let the boy see you. When the man who had been hiding emerged, my blood ran cold. I felt the same fear I had felt when I was attacked. It was him. Wordlessly, I looked into his eyes and pointed to him. Robbie took my hand and led me between the two rows of men and then behind the second row. We stopped behind the man I had pointed to. If this is the person you are identifying, you must touch his shoulder, Frankie. I felt sick having to touch the fiend himself and I broke into a sweat. I had not realised that seeing the man again would cause such a traumatised reaction in me. I reached out and put my hand on the shoulder of the man who had come so close to killing me. Aha little boy, you think I will never get hold of you? Ill kill you and all your family, he said with a sneer, turning around to look at me.

Stand still, look forward and shut up, said Robbie. Unnoticed by any other observer, he was digging into the mans back with his truncheon. Without warning, the man spun around and grabbed my neck, pressing hard. I saw a look of madness in his eyes. His brow was low and deeply creased, and his jaw muscles tensed and relaxed as he ground his teeth together. He ignored everybody else and gave his full attention to squeezing the life out of me. His grip tightened and I could not breathe. Robbie spontaneously kicked the mans hand away and his grip loosened. The other four officers in the room ran forward fast. I fell to the floor, dazed. I was only vaguely aware of the chaos that reigned as the officers attacked the man, mercilessly beating him senseless. He fell down, over me. None of the other suspects in the line-up reacted in any way. Robbie pulled me from under the unconscious man and carried me from the room. That was a very brave thing that you did Frankie. Dont worry. Hell never get to you again. He has sealed his own fate, he said, straightening my tie. He carried me to the car and put me down on the seat. Hold tight, well be at your home soon, my boy, he said, closing the door. My throat ached and I could not answer. As we trundled home, I wondered if the lunacy I had

seen in the prisoners eyes might not be the very thing which would rescue him from justice. The thought bothered me.

When we reached Timmys home, Robbie walked into the house with me. My mother, Timmy and Mr van Vuuren were sitting in the lounge. Georgie and Bertie came hopping out and greeted me with great big hugs. Sitting down, Robbie said, Frankie has identified his attacker but was hurt while doing so. I will have to fetch him again when the case goes before the magistrate. The detectives will work furiously to formulate the charges. If you dont mind Robbie, Ill accompany Frankie when he is required. I want to be there for him, said my mother. Officer Robbie answered, Id appreciate that very much, Edith. Everything that has happened has been a bit too fast for a young boy. Robbie, said Mr van Vuuren. Do you think the magistrate is biased towards Kitty? The evidence this morning painted a vivid picture of neglect. Timmy is at work all day and is not aware of the events taking place at home. Jannie, the magistrate does her work as she sees fit,

said Robbie. She has a tight schedule and is not above making errors. She does, however, base her decisions on the average normal conditions in a household. Although professionally, I may not distinguish between normal and other, I am required to be impartial, he continued. My relationship with Kitty, said Timmy is seriously threatened. I need to spell out my requirements to her. Her drinking has flung everything in our home into disarray. She cant cope with the children and Frankies description of her immoral behaviour has given me a lot to think about. It seems to me, Timmy, said Robbie, that it is not only Kitty who is involved in immoral behaviour in this house. It would be fair to warn you that these children are witnessing more decadence than what Frankie explained in court. Reddening, Timmy said, I am not sure what you mean Robbie, but if any suspicions have been aroused about anybody, then it is a private matter until formal charges have been laid. I knew that Timmy knew exactly what Robbie was referring to. I hoped that after the mild confrontation, Timmy would consider the effect his incestuous deeds would have on his daughter and on us, and stop the molestation.

That night I was exhausted and traumatised, going to bed earlier than usual. I had been asleep for some time and woke up during the night to use the bathroom. As usual, I crept out silently. The silver-blue grandeur of the moonlit night astounded me, and the breathtaking beauty of the clear sky made me feel delightfully free. Before returning to the bedroom, I again looked at the striking beauty of the magical wonderland around me. Suddenly, I imagined faint whispering in the garden. I crouched down and silently followed the sound. A short distance into the grove of peach trees, I saw two figures under the moonlit glow. Valerie was bent over forwards. Behind her, her father, Timmy, was slowly making love to her, holding his arm around her and gently stimulating her with his hand. Only then did I notice two other figures on the ground. Cathy was lying on her back on the lawn and Michael was on top of her, displaying their activity to Timmy, who was obtaining enhanced pleasure from observing the younger couple. I wondered if these young girls really enjoyed the things that the adult men were doing to them. I wondered if they did not feel the way I did when it happened to me. I wondered if they needed somebody who they could trust, to tell about it. Somebody like Robbie. The four sated lovers eventually went inside, without detecting me, and alone again, I danced among the

peach trees, feeling the wonderful lack of restrictions that the joy of childhood brings. I had no particular reason for being so happy, but from that balmy night on, I enjoyed my own childhood world in secret, creeping out almost every night and dancing, humming and playing in the darkened world alone, while everybody else was sleeping peacefully.

Mommy, Mrs Kelley and Mrs van Vuuren arrived with their children early the following morning. They accompanied us to the primary school, talking excitedly about Robbies mild confrontation of Timmy. I thought to myself that little did they know about the sheer audaciousness of Timmys persistent paedophiliac assaults on at least one of the two girls who were here, walking beside them. I had been surprised to discover that Michael was molesting his own niece. The molestation appeared not to bother Cathy or Valerie. It appeared that they had been molested too many times to care. Either that or they were the provocateurs. I had not gone to school because I was still quite upset since the identification parade and remained in the garden with Bertie until after the bigger children returned and later, Robbie came to check on me at the house.

He was talking to my mother in Kittys lounge when Florence suddenly burst in and breathlessly shouted that Gerhard had hurt Lydia, she continued running and within seconds, everybody followed her. We arrived at our mothers flat and found Mrs Kelley cradling Lydia. Mrs van Vuuren was also there and anxiously exclaimed, Gerhard beat and strangled Lydia because she was crying. Kel has her breathing again, but we dont know how long she was without oxygen for. That spineless bastard left the baby like that and drove away. Thinking fast, Robbie helped Mrs Kelley to her feet, took my mothers arm and said, We have no time to wait for an ambulance, the child must get to a hospital fast. He left them and ran to fetch his police car that was standing outside Kittys house. We watched as they drove westward along Eighth Avenue with the siren wailing.

After dinner, Michael came to visit Timmy and, sitting together on the couch, they discussed Kittys condition. She looked quite okay today; I think shell be coming home tomorrow or the day after, said Michael. Timmy hesitated, and then said, I know, but Ive been thinking about what we must do, because every time we

have an argument, she threatens to drink bloody poison. She did the same to us when we were kids and I hated those bottles she always stashed somewhere, but theres nothing we can do to stop that rubbish, said Michael. Bertie and I were playing on the floor with tin cars and neither of us paid much attention to the rest of the conversation. Soon, however, Bertie went off to bed. Standing up, Timmy said, Mike, lets go for a walk you can come along if you like, Frankie. Feeling uneasy, I said, Im tired Unca Timmy, can I go sleep? Michael joked, Cmon man, don be a sissy, its not that dark and youve got us to look after you. He ruffled my hair and took my hand, guiding me towards the door. We walked to the Willys and they let me get in first. I climbed over to the front seat, expecting them to sit beside each other in the back. I felt ill at ease because the atmosphere was strange. Timmy sat down, but Michael remained standing outside, leaning on the old car so that only his abdomen and legs were visible. I only realised something bad was happening when Timmy leaned back, pulled his zipper down and exposed himself. Michael had also exposed himself and was stroking himself slowly, near Timmys face.

I was suddenly very afraid, but there was no way I could escape. The horror of my captivity caused me to tremble and I suddenly felt very cold. Speak, I thought to myself, speak to anybody, but dont be quiet any more. The thought seemed to comfort me a little. For a brief instant, I was aware of a strange tingling on my arms and scalp as I truly felt my hair rising. With my fingers, I felt the goose bumps on my bare arms. Timmy grabbed my hand, pulled me closer, and put it around him as he took Michael into his mouth, moving his head back and forth, increasing his pace. My heart was pounding and I felt like screaming, but it would not stop the repulsive things that were happening. It went on until Timmy erupted onto both his and Michaels trousers. I jumped out of the car between them and ran directly to my bed and, trying to escape my turbulent thoughts, I soon fell asleep. Later I was woken by my dreadful nightmare, screaming. Nobody came into the room, because Kitty was still in hospital.

In the morning, everything was as ordinary as could be in our house. However, on the way to school, Barbara Kelley was restrained and I asked her what was the matter. She didnt respond.

Our little group proceeded, tripping each other mischievously. Georgie had both hands in his pockets. I retrieved an apple from my pocket, and voicing a belated warning, I threw it to him. He struggled to take his hands from his pockets and it hit him on the shoulder. He picked it up and swung his booksack at me. You missed! I playfully scorned. He laughed and bit into the apple. For no apparent reason, Barbara abruptly lifted her arm and threw herself against a fence running alongside the lane. She cried loudly and, concerned, we all approached her. She unexpectedly blurted out, I cant go to school; Uncle Gerhard hurt me too. We were horrified and desperately tried to calm her down. Georgie, dropping the apple, ran homeward for help. We wanted to obtain more information from Barbara, but her sorrowful crying made it impossible. We remained with her until Georgie and Mrs Kelley rounded the corner, both running. When they reached us, Mrs Kelley put her arms around Barbara, patting her soothingly. You kids go to school, she ordered. Dont speak to anybody. I will contact the principal myself. She held Barbara tightly as she walked slowly towards their home. A dismal mood hung over us the rest of the way. I knocked on the door before entering the classroom. Miss Cindy looked surprised and walked to me. Without

bending down, she pressed me to her, swaying wordlessly. Finally she spoke, My dear boy. What happened to you? I have been frantically worried. Put your booksack down and then come with me. Mr Levy wants to see you. The children clapped their hands as I put down my book-sack. They were smiling and some were reaching out to pat my back. They had obviously wondered why I had run away in the first place. Miss Cindy smiled broadly and took my hand. Together we walked to Mr Levys office. When she knocked on his door, he stood up and walked to us. Thank you Miss Davis, he said, Francisco will be here for a while, I will send him back when we have spoken. He smiled, turned and gently pushed me ahead of him. Frankie, we have caused you much confusion, he said. Please allow Dr Mason to talk to you. He has come today especially to apologise. Will you see him? he asked. Yes sir, I replied. They cant do worse than theyve already done. Im tired and I feel bad. I dont care any more. Surprisingly, he held my hand as meeting room. As we entered, I saw joyfully ran into her arms, climbing Mason, Kenneth and the other women we walked to the Nurse Marge and onto her lap. Dr were there too. Mr

Levy took his usual seat and we all greeted each other. When Dr Mason stood up and paced the floor, I sensed a change in him. He appeared more arrogant and did not smile. Frankie, my boy, he said. Im glad youre back. You startled us when you ran off like that. Did you enjoy your few days away from school? I sensed he was being sarcastic. My temper was rising and I felt cheeky. How much I felt like telling him exposing me to everybody had violated me just as much as those who had abused me. Frankie, we are trying to find a solution for your problems. Would you prefer to discuss your problems with Nurse Marge? Sir, I said, Nurse Marge has always been kind and she loves me. I have no problem I cant speak to Nurse Marge about, but I dont have anything to speak about now. I said. He asked me to wait outside. He seemed to be flustered. When they called me in again, Nurse Marge was crying openly, looking embarrassed and she did not look at me. I sensed that all of the adults were feeling uncomfortable and that they had definitely reached some drastic decisions. Dr Mason cleared his throat frequently and said, Francisco, there seems to be no other solution, than to rescue you from your present malady. We have decided

to send you to a place of safety until we find a suitable foster parent for you. Sir, you tryin to get me away from my brothers and sister, I accused, I am not going anywhere. Frankie, he said, You are out of control and are becoming frustrated. Please fetch your belongings and go with Nurse Marge. Without another word, I walked from the room towards my classroom. Reaching the door, I turned around and then swiftly darted along the corridor leading to the playground. I found the gate locked so, unencumbered by my booksack, I climbed the fence and fell down on the other side. I was free! CHAPTER 7

Leaving on an airplane

To anybody who was able to think clearly, it would have been obvious that I would seek refuge at an airport, since my friends and family knew that I had a fanatical passion for airplanes. I wandered among the airplanes at the Rand Airport, staring at each one in wonderment. Perhaps because of my childlike audaciousness, I went almost unnoticed. I walked unchallenged among the mechanics, owners and

ground staff. I entered hangars, workshops and flying clubs, unhindered. For some reason, I felt safe at this place and my release from anxiety seemed to enhance my zest for life. I boldly walked into the control tower without anybody questioning the reason for my presence. In fact, the air traffic controller was a pleasant man who allowed me to sit on a chair and listen to him as he spoke to the pilots on the radio. Im Frankie, I said to the man. I like airplanes and I like being here at the airport. Im Charlie, he said. Its nice knowing you, Frankie. Have you ever been flying? Ill see if we can arrange a flip for you. Suddenly the radio crackled and the person talking said, Good day, Charlie, Charlie Yankee Alpha taxiing to threshold Zero Nine for take off to general flying area, over. Hello Schalk, said Charlie into the microphone. I have a young friend here who would like a ride. Can you help? Why certainly, Charlie. Ill taxi to the apron. Have him meet me there, crackled the radio. I felt like I was dreaming. The sheer informality of the airport during those days was extremely pleasant. Charlie gave me directions and I ran down the steps, through the passenger reception area, through the airside doors and

onto the concrete apron. A beautiful wood-framed, fabric-covered Aeronca Champion was taxiing slowly towards me. It was red and had the letters ZS-CYA painted in yellow on its sides and under its overhead wing. The propeller stopped as the pilot switched off the engine for safety. He opened the left door and climbed out. Walking to me, he put out his hand. Im Schalk Davel, he said smiling. Come hop in. Well be back in about an hour. Hello sir, Im Frankie, as he helped me climb onto the strut and onto the seat, fastening my seatbelt. The engine noise drowned any further conversation and a breathless excitement overwhelmed me as the airplane started moving. When we reached the threshold of the runway, I heard Charlie say over the continuously crackling radio, Alright Charlie Yankee Alpha, you are cleared for take-off. Enjoy it, Frankie, see you later. Thanks Schalk. Schalk eased the throttle forward. The engine bellowed and I felt a slight pressure pushing me back into the seat. The tail lifted as the airplane gained speed. The propeller was almost invisible as it spun, forming a glasslike circle in front of us. I had never felt such exhilaration before and it was wonderful as I looked out the side window. We were airborne. I was spellbound as the ground fell away.

As we climbed higher, we seemed to be travelling slower. The ground became a patchwork of brown and green squares, moving almost imperceptibly. The buildings were tiny and the roads no more than thinly drawn lines. I felt as though the whole world knew and could see that I was in this wonderful airplane and I was proud. I felt that I had joined the ranks of the privileged few who had flown in the air. I was amazed that, although I felt no motion, the ground seemed to be moving. Each time we turned, the ground tilted in the opposite direction, and when we climbed or descended, the ground tilted up or fell away. Curiously, the flight caused in me a feeling of disconnection from the ground. We had broken free from the bonds that tied us to the ground and I associated flying with being away from people who could hurt me. When we flew back to the airport, Schalk pulled back the throttle and extended the flaps. I felt the airplane slow and the nose move down. Far ahead, I saw the runway; a black strip on a green field. As the shadow of the airplane became larger on the ground, the nose lifted and with a slight slowing and a little bump, the wheels squealed onto the ground. It was the most extraordinary experience in my life. It was late by the time everybody had left the club. I walked around among the hangars until the parking area was clear and then I went to the clubhouse and climbed in through an open window, directly into the packing

room. The club mascot, a large teddy bear, sat on a pile of packed parachutes in a corner. It was larger than I was and dressed in a club overall. I climbed the stack of parachutes and lay my head upon the teddy bears lap. I drifted off happily into a free wonderland of blue skies, airplanes, colourful parachutes and compassionate people. And then I had my nightmare again.

I awoke happy and refreshed to the first rays of the morning sun. I climbed through the window into the parking area and made my way to the closest hangar, where I washed in the washroom, wetting my hair and combing it through with my fingers. For two weeks I explored every inch of the airport. Sometimes the security staff would invite me along as they inspected the boundary fences. Throughout my time at the airport, someone always invited me to eat with them in the club dining room. When it responded to emergencies, I went along with the fire engine. The fire crew even gave me a real fire fighters helmet. At night, I slept in the security office, the fire station, the clubhouse packing room, or in any airplane parked in the hangars. I had a world of choices.

During the day, my wanderings aroused no suspicion. Mechanics called to me and waved, pilots took me along for the ride, and parachutists looked forward to seeing me, often bringing me gifts of clothing. The aviation people had introduced me to a more normal lifestyle and my sojourn at the airport was paradise. Each day I met new people who accepted me without curiosity and, more importantly, without any deviant expectations. Although I was dependent on the kindness of my new friends, I was happy and for the time being, free. Then one night, Schalk waited until everybody had left and followed me. As I made myself comfortable in a Cessna 172, he touched my shoulder and said Frankie. I am sure that you need to speak to someone. Lets go and sit on the club patio. I knew that the game was over so we sat down and I related my story to him. For several hours he listened patiently and compassionately before he explained his concerns. Frankie, we all care a great deal for you, he said, but you cant live like this forever. Let me take you home. He was a kind and Christian man and I trusted his judgment. As we drove to Bez Valley, he explained to me that he had suspected that I was having problems and had wanted to help. To my mind, he was very similar to

Robbie. At about midnight, we stopped at the house and Schalk held my hand as we walked to the door. The veranda light went on and Kitty, covered with a blanket, opened the door. She glared at me and then smiled to Schalk. Good evening, said Schalk, Ive brought your little flyboy back again. It seems he has survived a number of near-misses, he joked, smiling. Unexpectedly, she dropped to her knees and embraced me tightly. Oh my little boy. How weve all missed you. Im so happy to see you, she wailed. Then she released me and stood up, acknowledging Schalk. Oh thank you, thank you very much, sir. Do come in and have a cup of tea with us. Thank you but no. Im flying to Greece in the morning and I should get some sleep. Im pleased Frankie is home and Ill call again soon, said Schalk. He rubbed my head, waved and left. I was determined that someday, like Schalk, I would fly. It became my lifelong desire. Everybody had gathered in the lounge. Pat, Georgie, Bertie and Valerie were noisily hugging and kissing me. Paul came and scooped me up, swinging me by my arms. Settle down you kids, said Kitty in a surprisingly moderate voice. I want you all in bed, its school tomorrow. Go on, off you go, quiet now. Get to bed and

sleep, she said, shooing us along and switching off the lounge light.

We went to the bedroom and closed the door. Instead of going directly to bed, Paul opened the other door and waved for us to follow. Georgie also seemed eager to speak to me. Together, we stole silently to the Willys. As we made ourselves comfortable, the door creaked open and Pat and Valerie joined us. Everyone wanted to speak at the same time and finally it fell upon Paul to give me the news. Gerhard is in jail, he said. They found him hiding in the sluit behind the greengrocer. Michael shot him in the leg and the other cops tied him up. Chipping in, Georgie said, Aunt Kel and Porky want to kill him cos he raped Barbara. Breathless with excitement he continued, He also tried to kill Lydia and shes still in hospital. Lydia was also raped, said Pat. Don lie to Frankie, Unca Gerhard tore her stomach inside and then he choked her, she said. Unca Robbie said it was statutory rape and it means that he hurt her insides an that it is a capital crime, she argued. Its not true, Pat, said Valerie. What Uncle Robbie

said is that Gerhard hurt her insides with his body and that we must not hear these things. Suddenly the door creaked open and Kitty stood with the belt. I thought I sent you to bed, she said mildly, Now go! I was surprised she wasnt drunk and she seemed friendly rather than angry. I believe the community had levelled the blame for my running away squarely at her. Startled, we scurried to our respective rooms. By the time Kitty reached the house, we were all in our beds pretending to sleep. With little consideration, we had decided that Georgie and I would sleep in Pauls bed and Paul would sleep in Georgies. It was to prove the ideal arrangement. I felt safe but I was exhausted and quickly fell asleep, holding my brothers hand and his hair.

I landed on the floor with an almighty bang. Cmon its the last day of school an youre not on holiday anymore, Lazybones. Georgie had unceremoniously kicked me out of bed. Mommys here to see you, he said. Lo Airport rat, laughed Paul, jumping down from the double bunk and pulling the bedding with him. Then he said seriously, Don tell anyone what we told you last

night. Spontaneously, Georgie and Paul each grabbed one of my arms and we went crashing into the lounge. I was surprised to encounter so many people. Mommy, Mrs Kelley, Kitty, the Van Vuuren, Michael in his uniform, Mrs Petroncelli, all the kids, and even Florence were crowded into the room. A big Welcome home, Frankie! almost tore the roof off and then everyone was hugging and squeezing and kissing me. I thought to myself What a party! as I lapped up the attention. For a while, everyone talked and gestured animatedly and I felt tremendous relief at being welcomed so warmly. Our mother and Florence led me to the bedroom and took out the suit Robbie and Joyce had given me. They dressed me as Georgie and Paul entered. Since it was the last day of school, they too dressed in their Sunday best, paying no attention to the presence of the women. Georgie, Paul and I went out through the side door to the bathroom to brush our teeth and hair. The girls and Bertie were just coming down the steps from the kitchen with the same intentions, and when we saw each other we all made a mad dash, squeezing and shoving through the bathroom doorway. Soon we were all talking, brushing teeth, fighting, splashing water, flipping towels and finishing our grooming. I believe we came out looking

scruffier than we did when we went in.

The army of parents and children walking down Fourth Street to school would have turned an impi 5 on its heels. We were spread across the entire width of the street. Bertie was hopping along beside me, holding my hand and singing a disjointed ditty. He was happy but seemed afraid I would go away again. I bent down and hugged him tightly for a moment. At the school gate, Miss Cindy saw the party advancing towards her and ran to us, clutching her dress in front of her. She joyously greeted everyone as she weaved her way through the crowd and bent down, grabbing and hugging Bertie and me, tears rolling down her cheeks. Frankie, oh Frankie, its wonderful to see you. We never want to lose you again. She joined the group, holding on to Bertie and me. Our group occupied two full rows of seats in the school hall. The teachers sat on chairs arranged on the stage and Mr Levy stood on the podium with a sheaf of documents and certificates in front of him. One by one, he called the names of children who had attained certain

Army (Zulu)

achievements. The children went up and received their certificates to loud applause from the guests. To my greatest surprise, he announced, Now for the pupil with the highest award in the school, a boy who achieved the first major award for the school in the discipline of art. His work is on display at the Johannesburg Outdoor Art Exhibition at Joubert Park. He won first place with his entry to Artists under the Sun. Lets give a great hand to Frankie. He is promoted to Standard 1. As I rose to go and collect my certificate, everybody stood up clapping at a slow and steadily increasing rate. Blushing as I climbed the stage steps, I looked up to see Nurse Marge appearing from behind the curtain, carrying a huge gift and a large medal with a blue neckband. Mr Levy shook my hand and hugged me, smiling. Con-gratulations my boy, he said, handing me a large gold-edged certificate. The crowd applauded loudly again. Then Marge bent down and, putting the package on the carpet, hugged me tightly. My little fighter, she said, putting the medal around my neck. I am so proud of you and I love you so much. She handed me the heavy package and the audience applauded, rising to their feet. Accompanying me back to my seat, Nurse Marge sat down, pulling me onto her lap. She first opened the dark

blue card on which, embossed in beautiful gold lettering, was written Congratulations from the office of Chief Magistrate Sinclair. Inside was a rice-paper insert on which was printed, You are cordially invited to attend a midweek function at Happy Valley Estate in Magaliesburg from 14-15 December 1955. Confused, I looked at Nurse Marge who was beaming. I received one too, she said. She helped me carefully open the brightly coloured gift-wrapping of the package, and inside was a large book with the Johannesburg coat-of-arms on the cover. The book was a directory of photographs and entries of all the paintings displayed at the Johannesburg Art Museum during the exhibition. My painting took up the whole of the sixth page and was entitled Courthouse Ablaze. The irony escaped me and I immediately regretted having disliked Magistrate Sinclair. I looked up into Marges smiling face and asked, Why am I going to Standard 1 and not to Grade 2, Nurse Marge? Its because youre turning seven soon and everybody agrees that you are ready to go into Standard 1, she said.

The holidays were fun for the children and passed without major incident. We spent many hours at Rhodes

Park swimming pool; Georgie, Paul and Porky getting up to mischief; Pat, Valerie, Barbara, Colleen and Margaret mostly doing their girlie things. Bertie and I played together under their watchful eyes. Every weekend, we looked forward to hearing the mocking police whistle, signalling the arrival of our favourite visitor to the neighbourhood, the Rickshaw man. We spent hours admiring these powerful men in their traditional Zulu costumes of finely bound beads of all colours, formed into a decorative mat and attached to a deerskin skirt. Their headgear bore cattle horns, feathers and cheetah pelt ribbons, plaited into long whips that hung behind them, and their gumboots protected their feet as they joyfully thrilled the passengers in their rickety vehicles. The most exhilarating and yet precarious part of a Rickshaw ride, was when these fine muscular men jumped up, whistled in short, sharp bursts on their singletone police whistles, as they rode on the hauling beams, while allowing the tiny wheel on the back frame to run on the ground. This action always caused an immense rumble and set the quaint vehicles to veer almost uncontrolled in any direction.

Barbara seemed to have come to terms with Gerhards assault on her and, with the careful and compassionate

guidance of Mrs Kelley, was almost back to her old self. Bertie and I regularly visited Robbie and Joyce, and they treated us as part of their family. They both doted on us and even visited our home occasionally. Kitty and Timmy were drinking less and having fewer fights, and Paul was back permanently and pardoned. Thanking his lucky stars, he had a new opportunity to redeem himself. Gerhard was languishing in Pretoria Central Prison awaiting trial on multiple capital charges. Our mother had fetched Lydia from the hospital and a welfare grant to look after her, was authorised. Mommy was looking much healthier with Gerhard out of her life and she had received an invitation to our father Richards marriage, which she had attended while I was away. I had neither seen nor heard from our father since our mother had separated from him and had lost interest in him, unable to forget that he had allowed my mother to be raped. During the time that had passed, I had consciously avoided any thought of him. Richard had met Dorothy at the Blind Institute of Johannesburg where he had gone to live after his separation from my mother and the two had built a relationship over a period of two years. They had decided to marry, neither having enjoyed the loneliness in their dark world. CHAPTER 8

The end of an era

On the morning of Wednesday 14 December 1955, Nurse Marge arrived early in her green Citron to fetch me for the Happy Valley outing. I was surprised that Kenneth had accompanied her. Kenneth was the young man who had been present at the last meeting I had had with Dr Mason and his team. I had no objection to his presence, except for a twinge of jealousy, because I had looked forward to having Marge all to myself. In my young mind, I considered it urgent to ask her why, having run away, nobody had scolded or beaten me. I needed to apologise to her for absconding, I needed to tell her that I trusted her, and I needed to ask her if anybody could help me with my problems. Marge was the unsung heroine of Bez Valley. The children of the suburb worshipped her and I am certain that everyone who knew her, remembers her with heartfelt warmth. As she parked her car, the kids descended upon her like a swarm of locusts. She had a difficult time wading her way to the front door. She formally introduced Kenneth to me and then to the adults.

They had coffee with our mother who frequently visited with Kitty, and then Marge said that we were due at Happy Valley at midday and would have to be off. I anxiously walked around the front garden with a cotton bag containing my meagre belongings that I would use for the function. Then finally, as we departed, I waved vigorously to the other children, who waved back until we had turned left into Fourth Street, towards Kitchener Avenue.

A quiet contentment prevailed in the car as we proceeded through the city and along Ontdekkers Road to Krugersdorp. Marge was an excellent driver and Kenneth offered us sweets as we drove along. I relaxed, enjoying the reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the suburb. I had the impression that if anything needed saying, it would become clear after our arrival at our destination. I became absorbed in the beauty of the natural surroundings as we wound our way between the undulating foothills of the Magaliesburg mountain range. Occasionally, small buck, rabbits and even jackals skittered across the road ahead of us. Huge eucalyptus, karee and pine trees veiled us at some points. Acacias and aloes dotted the surrounding hills, and bubbling streams of clear water, bordered by waving willows,

crossed under the road and then wound their way to obscurity among the trees. Almost too soon, we rounded a sharp curve and crossed a white-walled bridge, turning off the road onto a winding gravel path through the dense undergrowth. We stopped in a clearing with two other cars. Each carrying our own bag (although I rode part of the way on Kenneths back), we made our way along a winding footpath through a basin of fragrant shrubs onto an extended lawn. Magistrate Sinclair was standing at a braai6. Putting down her utensils, she greeted us smilingly. I barely recognised her. She looked completely different without her sombre black toga. Her dark-brown silky, shoulder-length hair billowed attractively as she walked towards us. Abandoning my earlier feelings about her, I dropped my bundle and bounded across the lawn, flinging myself into her arms. She hugged and kissed me and then stood up, shaking Marge and Kenneths hands as I ran back to pick up my bag. Well, Frankie, she said when I returned. You must be famished after such a long ride. The food is nearly


ready so you had better walk with Dr Kenneth to put down your things. You will be sharing a bungalow with him tonight. It was the first time I had heard Kenneth referred to as a doctor, and I suddenly considered him more seriously. He was unpretentious and kind. Young but refined. More than meets the eye, I decided to myself. A row of thatched bungalows stood within the grove. They were surprisingly luxurious inside. Kenneth and I seemed well attuned and did what every self-respecting male would do; we dropped our baggage on the floor, flopped down, each on one of the two single beds, flung our legs into the air and then suddenly made a mad dash to the bathroom. He reached it before me and I danced around outside the door, knowing that relief would soon be at hand.

Lunch consisted of lamb chops, rabbit casserole, several salads and hot corn bread, smothered in butter. It was quite delicious and to the amused fascination of the adults, I sated myself, albeit shyly. The adults chatted about many things, becoming quite animated at times. They obviously appreciated the break and they greatly enjoyed each others company.

After lunch, we cleared the table and washed up, and then we relaxed under the open wooden lapa, admiring the beautiful setting of the resort. I heard then that Magistrate Sinclair was the owner of the land. Unmarried and studious, she had bought it as a private retreat. Suddenly but gently, she guided me out of my surveillance of the wonderful surroundings. Frankie, my boy-child, please come and sit beside me, she said. We dont have too much time to see if we can solve your problems, she continued. You know Miss Margery well, so I hardly need to introduce you. Dr Kenneth Duncan is a specialist research professor in child abuse, a new discipline in child psychology. He has returned from New York where he works, especially to study your case. Your case could help many children in the future. You are a troubled boy and we need to know what the reasons are, she continued gently. If you start helping us to understand, my boy, we will listen quietly without interrupting. During those years, the concept of child abuse was relatively unknown, although its practice was rife. Many communities tolerated it. The structural dimension of intergenerational child abuse was essentially unexplored in South Africa, and only in its earliest stages of research in the United States. Kenneth had been invited to investigate my case to obtain a first-hand account, but officially, he had not been granted any powers to intervene. He was only able to

make an extended study and to prepare a report at the end of the period for which he had been commissioned. I was neither surprised nor afraid. I had somehow suspected that the function would be about me. I knew this could be the most important evaluation of my life.

Unabashed and without histrionics, I related the episodes of Kittys licentiousness, philandering and incestuous excesses, and her cruel abuses, beatings and sexual assaults on us, the foster children in her care. In a factual, no-nonsense, and rather meticulous way, I narrated an anthology of factual experiences. The events that had affected my siblings and me all formed part of my lucid sometimes-traumatic description. I clearly surprised them by linking my observation of Kittys wickedness and moral decay to the all-too-real invasion of my own sanity, leaving little to the imagination. Using the words someone in my brain, I described my conscious creation of my doppelganger and the chilling effects it had upon me. I described the dangerous and violent personality of my alter ego and its influence upon my thoughts and speech. I said, I was dizzy one night an I tried to murder Cathy. I said, looking directly into Magistrate Sinclairs eyes. The other person in my head might have been the one that had hurt

Cathy. It was a chilling moment. Previously, I had mistakenly associated my schizophrenia with madness, but I knew exactly the time and place that I had separated my personalities, and I knew that I could make each emerge at my will. My childish forthrightness and uncanny understanding of my alter ego was astonishing to them. Trying to describe my frustration in getting help I said, Here with you, I can speak about my feelings but we are never allowed to speak in your court, Maam. All kids who are treated badly must shout like I did, but theyre scared. The poignant ambience was tangible as the adults con-sidered my uninhibited narrative. I suddenly realised that in their silence, they had systematically peeled away the multiple layers of my personality. Maam, I started again. Plenty kids want to escape from big people who do rude things, but only very few know who to talk to. I know, cos almost all of my friends have been touched, but theyre scared even to speak to any big people. In a childish way, I said, The few kids who broke free are good, cos they make it easy for other kids to speak an nobody is rude with them any more. All kids who have these things done to them must run away so that they won feel ashamed any more, cos its not their fault, I said. I had to run away before anybody

took notice of me, an that was Uncle Schalk. Magistrate Sinclair interrupted me and asked, How do you remember all these things, Frankie? Maam, I answered. When your daddy lets other people hurt your mom, you don forget, an when youre burnt with a stompie7, you also don forget. It was then that I related my embarrassment when Dr Mason had displayed me publicly. In doing so, he had unleashed a rage within me. My fluent disclosure mortified the learned adults. Magistrate Sinclair in particular released a tremendous amount of constrained emotion. She made no attempt to disguise the intensity of her shock. She knelt before me, holding me and swaying back and forth wordlessly. Her tears flowed unabated, her sobs were unrestrained. Marge came and hugged me as Magistrate Sinclair released me. She sat me on her lap and also cried unabashed. Kenneth was looking away but he wiped his eyes on the back of his hands. I sensed that they had understood the horror of the events that I had described and that they wanted to discuss them privately, so I climbed down from Marges lap and ran onto the lawn, beyond earshot.

Cigarette butt.

Looking at the beautiful sunset and listening to the water of the river running behind the row of bungalows, the natural wonderland captivated me. The adults were still talking. The narration had been exhaustive and troubling for them. I felt that it was way beyond my bedtime and went to each in turn and kissed them, wishing them goodnight. I skipped off to the bungalow, softly singing to myself Hush little baby, dont you cry, Mommys going to sing you a lullaby. I was extremely happy and enjoying the peace and solitude. Leaving the bedside lamp on, I climbed into bed, but I could not fall asleep. I was thinking about the kindhearted people who had allowed me to tell my story freely. I was still awake when Kenneth arrived and I sat up on my bed. Lo sir, I said, I hope I havent hurt Nurse Marge an you all. Frankie, he replied, sitting down on my bed. You have taught us many lessons in humanity, humility and compassion. You have prompted me to investigate the complicated secrets of the creation of the alter ego. I have never had the purpose of my speciality explained to me so vividly. Learning it from a young boy is what I least expected. I travelled many miles to investigate your case because I thought it was unique. Your description has alerted me to the possibility that it may be more common.

You have had a profound effect on my education. He undressed to his shorts and climbed into his bed. Then he asked, How well do you know your sister, Eileen? Would you like to live with her, Frankie? I think we can arrange that. I was surprised and pleased. Oh could you really? I asked, Mommy will also be pleased. She is a sad person, Uncle Kenneth, I continued. Maybe she will be happier then. I know, he said. Now switch off your light. Tomorrow is going to be a big day for you. I wondered why. I turned off the light, crept under the soft, summer sheet and pulled up the warm woollen blanket. Gnight Unca Kenneth, I prayed for you already, I said softly in the darkness. Goodnight, he said. I prayed for you too, little guy. Remember, God don make no rubbish. We love you very much.

It was strange waking late in a luxurious bed. I stretched and looked around. Kenneth was already out but the room was a colourful wonderland filled with balloons, streamers and ribbons. In the middle stood a decorated table, bearing a large

square cake with seven long, thin candles burning on it and suddenly from behind the colourful wall of decorations, burst Georgie, Porky, Paul, Bertie and Kenneth. Happy birthday! they yelled in unison. Grabbing me, they allowed me only enough time to blow out the candles before carrying me out and unceremoniously dropping me into the swimming pool. Spluttering and wiping the water from my head and face, I finally surfaced and saw the great assembly of people looking at me and applauding. I waded to the edge of the pool. Michael and Kenneth lifted me out and Marge brought me a towel, which she wrapped around me. Everybody was laughing, hugging and kissing me. Our mother tearfully and joyously swayed me from side to side, almost tipping me into the pool again. Mr van Vuuren had borrowed the open vegetable truck from Jose, the Portuguese greengrocer of Sixth Avenue, and had brought the whole community along. At that time, as comical as it may seem, it was economical and convenient for families to travel in this way. What a lovely and memorable surprise it was. It was my seventh birthday and with her beautiful invitations, Magistrate Sinclair had arranged the greatest of all parties for me. Kitty remained a little aloof from me as the days activities came into full swing. She did, however, seem to

enjoy the celebration. The adults and children alike had a wonderful time. We swam, rode ponies, foefie-slid into the rocky, slow-flowing river and doused each other with gusto. Kenneth, fetching his guitar, entertained us with beautiful songs, joined by the men. All too soon, the sun started edging its way to the west. We exchanged cheerful greetings and then the truck, bearing its heavy human cargo, trundled away from us towards the city. Magistrate Sinclair, Marge, Kenneth and I sat on the patio for some time before we prepared to depart. Frankie, said Magistrate Sinclair. You wont be going back to Aunt Kitty. Georgie and Patricia are going to live with your mother, and for a while, you and Bertie are going to live with Eileen. Are you happy about that? she asked. Happy? I was delighted and I told her so. Only then did I realise that Magistrate Sinclair had already communicated her decision to Kitty. I thought to myself that the financial implications were Kittys greatest concern. Her wickedness had caught up with her and the recent events had finally drawn the attention of her peers. She had reached the end of the road when Magistrate Sinclair had decided to put an end to the abuse which we suffered. It was the end of an era in our lives.


Hired help

My mother was delighted to have Georgie and Patricia living with her again, and it seemed that her life might now improve drastically. My sister Eileen had left Johnny some years earlier and had met Theuns, a simple-minded and immoral man who pretended not to know that she was a prostitute and allowed her to continue her work, since he benefited greatly from her secret income. Having suffered sophisticated sexual abuse by Johnny during her early teens, Eileen had developed into a sexually insatiable and predatory individual. She and Theuns had married recently. Her first child was Bokkie, a daughter who was now four, and the second was Charmaine, who was three. Biological fathers were a matter of speculation, although Theuns believed he had fathered them during an extended affair while she was living with Johnny. He and Eileen had had sexual relations since she was eight years old and strangely, Johnny had introduced them. Johnny had made a small fortune selling photographs, depicting adult and child sex to other

paedophiles. Theuns was lazy, vulgar and an exhibitionist. He was also extremely violent, but seldom drank. He did, however, smoke dagga frequently. The menial jobs he secured seldom lasted for more than three or four months. Theuns and Eileen lived on the corner of Kitchener Avenue and Third Street; two houses away from Kittys eldest daughter, Maria, her husband Anthony (Tony) who was the local mechanic, and their two children, 12-yearold Marie, and Isaac, their seven-year-old son. In this area of Bez Valley, almost all the brick and concrete houses had cellars, mainly used as storage spaces. Invariably forgotten by the occupants, the children used them as hideouts and places to play. Sometimes, to the chagrin of the more straitlaced citizens, the cellars often shielded groups of mainly men who used the drug dagga for recreation. Francisco (Frank), the half-brother of Tony, and his wife Jesse, lived diagonally across the road, also in Third Street, with their two daughters, 14-year-old Helen and 10-year-old Roberta. Frank was a confirmed alcoholic and had been arrested twice for incestuous sex with each of his daughters. On both occasions, he escaped the noose due to lack of evidence. I surmised that Eileens only consideration when she had decided to accept us as her charges, was the

substantial fostering grant offered by the welfare, Initially, I was happy to be moving in with them. I did not expect it to be any worse than we had endured under Kittys care.

School started on Monday, 2 January 1956, and I was delighted to find that my friend from Grade 1, Willie, and several others, were in my class. Miss Cindy remained our class teacher. The arrangement could not have been more satisfying. Patricia, Georgie, Barbara and Colleen enrolled at the Sir Edmund Hillary Primary School in Cumberland Avenue in Kensington. I felt a bit alone and vulnerable without them. Bertie was admitted into Grade 1 a year early. His teacher was Mr Thomas the same teacher who had molested our older brother Georgie and I realised I should have to protect my little brother vigorously. At school, the first day was again chaotic, with new teachers having to distribute new materials to pupils. Mr Levy had delivered his routine address and as things were settling down to normal, the public address system in our classroom sounded. It was Mr Levy requesting me to come to the office. Feeling a bit apprehensive, I

dawdled along the corridor. At the door, I knocked and waited for him to invite me in. Robbie sat in the large visitors chair. I was thrilled to see him and ran into his arms, hugging him. My big boy, he said, Ive come to tell you that you will have to be in court for several days. The man who attacked you and Gerhard are appearing on their various charges and you are a witness in both cases. I have delivered the subpoenas to Eileen and your mother. Mr Levy nodded his head smiling. The school will survive without you, Frankie, he joked. Ill fetch you at home tomorrow, Frankie, said Robbie. You must be ready at half past seven, he continued as he stood up to take his leave. Hey, by the way, Aunt Joyce has made your favourite chocolate cake. Do come and visit soon, he added, and left, still smiling. I returned to the classroom and took my place beside Willie. Willie was a pleasant but lonely individual. He lived alone with his mother in Seventh Avenue, in a cottage similar to Timmys home. Like me, he sometimes felt ostracised by other children and seemed to have a very low self-esteem. I suspected that he too was a molested child. The signs of cruel beatings were often present on him. He was secretive and rebellious but we had always been

friends and we communicated easily. Miss Cindy was handing out books and cheerfully down-playing any discomfort the children may have in their new surroundings. Cmon, my happy little family, she said. We must finish up before break, because we are starting training sessions for the inter-school athletics this afternoon. It dawned on me that I was now in Standard 1 (now Grade 3), and for that year, would participate in activities for primary school preparation. It was a delightful thought. During recess, Willie and I sat on the wooden platforms beside the sports field, watching the teachers plan the layout of the event equipment. A team of labourers dragged and carried the paraphernalia into experimental positions. Their rhythmic and harmonious singing was delightful. After recess, the teachers divided us into four houses (colours) and then further into age and event groups. Willie and I were both happy to have been selected for the cross-country event.

After school, Willie walked home with Bertie and me. Eileen was out and had left the back door ajar for us. Willie patiently waited as I helped Bertie dress into his

play clothes. Georgie arrived, knocking us about playfully, before he left to take Bertie to play at our mothers house. Willie followed me to the bedroom and, as I changed, I saw him staring at my pelvis. It felt pleasant having him watch me and I became fully erect under his gaze. Although deliberately teasing, when I saw that he was about to reach out and touch me, I pulled up my boxers hurriedly. When I was dressed, we went to the kitchen and had some bread and milk, and then we strolled down the hill, tripping and bumping each other playfully. At his ramshackle home, Willie invited me into his room, where, facing me openly, he undressed. Throwing his clothes carelessly onto the bed, he walked naked to the indoor bathroom and turned on the shower. I stood at the shower door watching him run the warm water over his body and soaping it well. Watching the ritual surprised me and gave me immense pleasure. He faced me and soaped his pelvic area enticingly. He was fully aware of my scrutiny as he stroked himself slowly, becoming visibly aroused, deliberately teasing me as I had him, and we both enjoyed the unpremeditated activity tremendously. He saw that I had taken myself out, rubbing slowly. I knew that he wanted me to reach out and touch him because he kept pushing himself towards me, but I didnt.

Finally, he came out of the shower and dried himself, pulling on his long shirt first; he knew that I was still watching as he protruded from between the front panels of the shirt and that I was lustfully gazing, as he wanted me to, so he lingered, stroking slowly for several long, enjoyable minutes. The open sexual experimentation between us was excellent in its budding mischievousness and the intensity was profound. I felt neither guilt nor confusion. It was just as mysterious as a perfect first sexual encounter should be. We had experienced this overwhelming pleasure together and it had not affected either of us harmfully, nor had it ended in actual sexual contact. When he was dressed, we walked down to my mothers house, enjoying each others company as if nothing untoward had passed between us. The children played happily on the street until dusk. Swirling dark grey clouds had formed overhead and the trees swayed gracefully. Flashing sheet lightning completed the perfection of the vista. This restless natural ballet with its deep bass rumble, reached a crescendo and hastened our departure, each to our own abode.

Eileen and Theuns were both at home when Bertie and I arrived. On the lounge table was a box containing a selection of alum ornaments and figurines, which had been coloured with a chemical that turned blue if the air was cool and moist, and pink if it was warm and dry. Eileen said that I would be going out to sell the figurines every afternoon when I returned from school. I knew that my embarrassment was about to begin. Long after dinner that evening, Eileen sent Bertie, Charmaine and Bokkie to bed. They shared the larger of the two remaining bedrooms and I had the smaller, third bedroom to myself. After Eileen and Theuns retired for the night, I went to my room, dressed in my pyjamas and climbed into bed. I thought about the sensuality that had passed between Willie and me during the day and I gradually felt the warmth and animal surge of my body. I was erect and manifestly stimulated myself, stroking slowly. Finally unable to resist, I climbed out of bed, went out of the room, switched on the outside bathroom light and descended the steps. Closing the bathroom door, I dropped my boxers and rubbed myself slowly until I was erect again, I closed my eyes and thought of Willies exhibition then, replaying the game in my mind, I masturbated vigorously with great satisfaction. It was the first time in my life that I had done so. The gentlest creak at the door made me aware that

someone was observing me through a crack in the wooden door. In ashamed apprehension, I stopped abruptly. Are you enjoying yourself? Frankie, said Theunss voice mockingly. The unlocked door opened and Theuns entered. His zipper was open and he was playing with himself. He had obviously become aroused by his voyeurism and by my private activity. Here, take me and play, he ordered. My embarrassment at having been masturbating threw my mind into turmoil. caught

No, Theuns, I refused and turned away, dragging my boxers up. If you touch me, Im going to tell, I threatened, hoping to stop him. He advanced menacingly and with raw lust, rubbing himself hard against my naked back. My sheer revulsion made me queasy. Suddenly he erupted all over my back and neck. A mighty blow to the side of my head cut short my immense disgust and I fell to the floor, stunned. Wiping his sperm from me with a dirty shirt, he said, Ill kill you if you tell anybody, then he stood up, raised his zipper and nonchalantly walked out of the bathroom. When I entered the house, I was still hugely embarrassed and wondered if Theuns would have the cheek to tell his wife about the incident. Eileen called me loudly. I timidly went to their room

and found them giggling. Eileen was pointing at me laughing. Yaah, so Theuns caught you playing with yourself, eh? She mocked. He tells me youve got a small one, she laughed. I felt vulnerable under her scorn and it annoyed me. I had ensured privacy before taking part in a practice that, for most boys, was a private matter. I had not involved anyone and I had responded naturally to my physical urges. I had not done anything wrong. Now you can start earning your keep, she said wickedly. I had no idea what she was referring to but I knew without a doubt that her plans were developing and included a contribution from me. Impertinently, I said to her. Eileen, if what I do is bad, then it shouldnt worry you cos I like doin it. In my immature mind, I was feeling defiant, less afraid and angry about their violation of my privacy. Reacting to my impudence, Theuns jumped out of bed and slapped me viciously. I felt my head spin, but I knew that he had dreaded that in my next statement, I might disclose his actions. Cowardly Theuns had not advised her of unrestrained molestation of me. I turned and left the room. his

I had dressed well and was standing outside when Robbie arrived. As we drove towards the city, he said, Youre quiet Frankie. What has happened and what are those marks on your face? I candidly related to him the events of the previous night, naturally not describing the relation to my thoughts about Willie. I said, I was touching myself privately and Theuns came in. He rubbed himself on me until he messed all over me. He hit me cos he thought I would tell Eileen. Robbie was familiar with my uncommon outspokenness and had never considered it disrespectful. My reliance on his trustworthiness had developed the foundations of our great friendship. He was also, however, aware of my volatility. Frankie, he said. I can only hope that you have not been flung from the frying pan into the fire. Keep to your convictions my boy and you will be alright. You must not be afraid in court today, my little friend, he said, changing the subject. Your account of the things that that man did to you will stop him from doing the same to anybody else. Be truthful and most of all, know that he cant hurt you again. He reached across and put his hand over mine. You are so much like my little son and I am proud of you. he said tenderly, Your mom

couldnt take off from work today, but she says that you must be strong, he finished.

Robbie had taken me to Magistrate Sinclairs chambers to wait until they called me to testify. I was sitting on the high chair kicking my legs and humming when he fetched me. A regional judge was presiding and Magistrate Sinclair was assisting in the case. Magistrate Sinclair smiled at me as I entered the courtroom and bowed to her as I had seen many witnesses do. My new respect for her was genuine and I admired her beauty, even in her toga. Marge sat in the witness stand and pulled me up onto her lap, smiling. Youll never see anybody if I did not sit here with you, she said softly. Kenneth was sitting in the auditorium too. The ugly man who had attacked me was shackled into the stand for the accused. Robbie, Michael and two other officers stood beside him. The judge asked me to point my finger at the man who had attempted to hurt me and I pointed to the prisoner, who shouted abuse at me.

The judge then asked me to describe the incident to the court. I again related the events of that fearful day in unrestrained detail. Has anyone else ever raped you? asked the defence attorney. Yes, I replied. But they did not grab me and hurt me. He, I said pointing to the accused, hurt me badly, Oh so you enjoy it when other people do it without hurting you. Is that right? Do you understand, young man, that these charges are capital offences? he asked, as he turned away and looked at the judge. I submit to the honourable court that this witness is often subjected to normal sexual relations and now claims that he was raped. It happens a lot to me and my friends, I said. But big people don care an do it plenty times, when nobody sees them, I said. An I don enjoy it either. The defence attorney was ruthless and challenged the credibility of my recollections, but I refused to retreat. The frequency of assaults on children is being exaggerated by this child, he said to the court. The prosecutor said, The fact is that the frequency does not depend on the victim. It depends on the perpetrators. Perpetrators were and are more prevalent than most communities are admitting, he continued. Sometimes, child abuse and molestation is only superficially investigated because there are so many

perpetrators and people of great note are sometimes involved. Few of them will be publicly confronted. There are suspicions of complicity and conspiracy at all levels of administration. Then they fade, before attracting too much attention, he finished dramatically. A rumble went through the court before the judge banged his gavel again. At one stage, the lawyer jumped up and said to me, You are a liar, you are colouring your evidence. I am not a lawyer so I don lie, I said innocently. There was uproar. People were laughing, the lawyer was shouting and the judge was banging his gavel. Marge hugged me tightly. I felt her bouncing slightly with suppressed glee. The judge adjourned the court for lunch.

The case proceeded for four days. The Queens Counsel (today called a prosecutor) was ruthless in describing the cruelty of the attack as well as the suspects admission of having murdered other children. The defence counsel objected, quoting hearsay. Much of the detail eluded me, but on the last day, the judge and Magistrate Sinclair entered the court wearing

black togas with red collars and black pointed hats. 8 The implications of the red-collared togas struck me with the violence of a freight train. I felt the incommunicable horror of absolute defeat and became rigid on Marges lap as I suddenly realised what was transpiring. The Judge and Magistrate had found the man guilty and were about to sentence the man to be hanged. I had never known that rape was a capital offence which carried the death penalty. In fact, I didnt even know what a capital offence meant. At that moment I noticed an unspoken signal pass between Magistrate Sinclair and Marge. Marge stood up, bowed and then, taking me by the hand, led me out of the courtroom. Reaching the corridor, I felt the blood rushing from my head. When I regained consciousness, several concerned adults were tending me. Marge, Magistrate Sinclair, Kenneth and Robbie were all there. I felt no relief and was inconsolable because I could not come to terms with a man losing his life for what he had done to me. I was on the plush two-seater couch in Magistrate Sinclairs office. She was sitting, resting my head on her

The red collared toga was the indication that the defendant was about to be sentenced to death and the black hats were raised to pronounce the prayer May God have mercy on your soul.

lap. Marge was wiping my face with a damp cloth and Kenneth was talking to me. His words sounded like a recurring echo. Frankie, he said kindly. We will have to talk when you are ready, but now you must realise that you are not the bad guy here.

Uncle Robbie was driving slower than normal and I sensed he was deep in thought. Frankie, he said, you have been through a lot. Go and play with your friends to take your mind off what happened today. Ill see you again tomorrow and you must come and have some cake with Aunt Joyce. He was silent during the rest of the journey and as he dropped me off at home, he greeted me with a big hug. Bye, my boy, see you tomorrow. The next evening, I went to the police station to meet Uncle Robbie but Sergeant OMalley told me that he had already left. Frankie, said Sergeant OMalley. Come and sit down. Officer Robbie has had some very sad news and I think he is better left alone with Aunt Joyce for a few days, he said. You see, my boy, the man who hurt you,

has admitted to having taken the life of Joey, Uncle Robbies little boy. I was shocked into stillness for a while and then I became very sad indeed, crying softly for the gentle parents. In a strange way, I was relieved that the man had not been sentenced only for what he had done to me. In my childish way, I was also pleased that Robbie and Joyce would have closure. Sergeant OMalley comforted me and, as my sobs subsided, I stood up and said, Thank you, sir. I spose Id better go home then. A strange flood of emotion gripped me and I flung my arms around his huge waist and held onto him as he ruffled my hair. About a week later, I heard that Gerhard had also received the death penalty for his multiple rapes on Barbara and Lydia, his own infant. The news of his fate made little impact on me.

Some time later, I arrived home and went in through the back door. Eileen was sitting on the couch and a man sat beside her. Both were dishevelled and in various stages of undress. Bokkie and Charmaine were sitting next to them. I did not consider the implications. Excuse me, I said and went to my room and

changed. I walked down to the school, noticing that Eileen and the man were no longer in the lounge and that they had shut the bedroom door. The children were also gone. I gave the matter no further thought at the time It was recess at school and it was some time before I found Bertie. He was happy to see me and flung himself at me, almost making me lose my balance. Hi Bert, howre y doing? I said, feeling happier. Okay, cos Im glad that you our house prefect, he said skipping up and down happily. I had no clue what he was talking about. When the bell rang, I accompanied him to his class and then joined Willie and the group of children going to my class. Miss Cindy met us at the door. Come in everybody, she said. Before you get into your sports clothes, we are going to talk to Frankie. The children sat down in their seats with a sense of excitement, which I did not understand. Willie kept playfully punching my shoulder and grinning at me when I looked his way. Mr Levy walked in and stood beside Miss Cindy, who handed him a brown envelope that she had retrieved from her drawer. The class fell silent. Well boys and girls, I would like to invite Frankie to

come to the front, said Mr Levy. Everybody clapped as I walked up and took my place beside Miss Cindy. Mr Levy waved the children down and then said, Frankie, you were away during the new years presentations. We would like to welcome you to senior class as a prefect. Congratulations. He shook a prefects badge from the envelope and pinned it to my shirt, before shaking my hand. The children and Cindy clapped loudly and everybody was grinning. I smiled broadly. Ever since I had started school, I had never been popular and had little communication with most of the other children apart from my siblings and my own classmates.

When Bertie and I arrived at home, Eileen, Bokkie and Charmaine were in the kitchen Eileen was baking scones and appeared quite friendly but disinterested in our arrival. Get yourselves bathed and come and eat before Theuns gets home. We dont want to be disturbed tonight, she said abruptly. I noticed an even larger collection of alum figurines on the floor in the corner of the lounge and I felt sick that she

was expecting me to sell them within the community in which all, the children knew me. When Theuns arrived, he and Eileen went into the bedroom and we could vaguely hear them talking but could not make out what they were saying. Eventually they came out smiling and sat down together to eat. They sent the smaller children to bed but Eileen told me to wait, as she wanted to talk to me. After washing up, she, Theuns and I sat in the lounge. Youve never met Johnny, she said, but he wants to meet you, so we want you to sleep at his house tonight. Hell pay you and when you give us the money, we will buy you some nice things. Dont tell anyone. I did not understand the reason, but didnt think of it as any more than another adventure. Okay, I said. No problem. Theuns had a turquoise Ford Consul and we drove up to Johnnys house in Apollonia Street, Troyeville, leaving the younger children alone at home. Theuns stopped the car and hooted. A thin, gingerhaired man came down the steps. He looked pleasant enough and opened my door Hello, he greeted and took my arm, guiding me from the car. He waved as Theuns drove away slowly, waving back. Johnny was a pleasant person and soon got down to entertaining me with his gramophone music, to which he danced little steps alone. He poured vodka for himself

and an orange drink for me. Sitting down beside me, Tell me about you, he said jovially. I told him about school and my brothers and sisters. He gave me another fruit juice. It was bitter but I drank it thirstily. There was only one double bed in the room and he stood me on it, starting to undress me. I was apprehensive but was unable to break through his animated friendliness to indicate that I was feeling uncomfortable. He left me with only my boxers on and said, Go on, hop under the covers. He switched on a dim bedside lamp and undressed completely, humming a tune in time with the soft music of the gramophone. I, in the meanwhile felt relaxed and slightly dizzy. It was a pleasant, careless feeling. Naked, Johnny went to the lounge and returned with more refreshments. He brought out some magazines and offered me my juice as he opened one of them. He was acting like a naughty child, giggling occasionally. I was uncharacteristically also giggling for no particular reason. I drank my juice, I realised that my face was feeling slightly numb and warm. The feeling was pleasant. When Johnny threw the blanket off, and cupped his

hand over my crotch, the feeling was also good and did not alarm me. Instead I felt myself slowly become firm and warm. Looking at his groin, I saw that he was hard and I was fascinated rather than offended. He opened the magazine and showed me pictures of men playing with small girls and boys. Although it was illegal, child-pornography was almost as readily available then as it is now. I was both revolted and aroused. He took me into his mouth and the feeling was splendid.

In the morning, the sun shone brightly through the open curtain, I rushed to dress so that I would not be late for school. I had a slight headache. Only then did I realise that I had been intoxicated. The fruit drinks Johnny had given me had been laced with vodka. Johnny said, Why are you up so early? It is Saturday, you clown. We both laughed, although I felt angry that he had tricked me in that way. I looked at him and saw that he had freckles. I felt nauseous. He handed me a sealed envelope. Give that to Eileen and there is a pound for you in your pocket, he said. I was feeling dirty and confused. As I prepared to leave, I noticed a box camera lying on the chair and wondered why it had been left there. I darted out through the front doorway and ran down Kitchener Avenue before he could get up, as I did not

want him touching me again. I had never had a pound before and I couldnt wait to share it with my siblings. It was a lot of money. I sensed that I had reached a turning point in my life. The realisation hit me. Eileen and Theuns were renting me out as a child prostitute.

Although I had done little training, I arrived at the sports field with the whole clan. We bought hot dogs and cold drinks as the events progressed. When the time came for the cross country race, Willy and I ran together. As we ran at a slow pace, I confided to him what my sister and her husband had done. I was astounded when he told me that his own mother was doing the same to him. I am going to run away like you did or I am going to kill myself. She goes away with men for the weekend and leaves me alone at home. With our talking all the time, we arrived last, laughingly deciding that sport was not important anyway. After the sports meeting, a crowd of us walked to Mommys house. She looked well and was well groomed. Lydia was healthy again and was dragged herself around on her nappy. Kitty, Mrs Van Vuuren, Mrs Kelley and Mrs Petroncelli were also visiting.

The greetings were joyous and soon a feast of cold meat sandwiches, salads and leftovers was prepared. We ate heartily and spent a lovely afternoon together. Later, Willie, Isaac and I walked to Third Street. Bertie wanted to sleep at Mommys house and so he remained. Isaac was Marias son, a thin boy my own age who was very withdrawn. His only companion at home was his 12-year-old sister, Marie. He was often bullied by his sister and mother. His father worked long hours, was seldom home before dark, and spent very little time with him. He had few friends and often spoke of his father molesting him and his sister. He also described that he had made a friend, and the revelation was amazing. He was going through the same as Willie and me. Willie came home with me. Eileen was in the kitchen and offered us milk and scones. Theuns was in the lounge reading the newspaper. I threw the envelope onto the table. Eileen looked pleased. How were the games? she asked. Oh, great, Willie and I said in unison. We came last, I continued and then we all burst out laughing. To my surprise, Eileen asked if Willie was having dinner with us, because Mommy had already called and said that Bertie was sleeping there. No, I replied. Im sleeping at Willies house cos his mother is away for the weekend.

Okay, she said. Theuns and I are also going visiting until tomorrow, so youd better go and get your things. I said to her, Ill just take my clothes and bath there, so you can lock up if you like. I went to the room and fetched my clothes, which I put in a bag, and Willie and I left, greeting Eileen, Theuns and the girls.

My concern over Willies declaration about running away or committing suicide made me want to speak to him urgently because I had been through the same hellish emotions. I had already run away but, to me, Willy looked too fragile to survive such an adventure. His thoughts about suicide seemed to me to be too extreme, and yet, even as a child, I understood his fear, for it is what I had often felt. With child-like logic, I said to him, Many of us are unhappy, Willie. I suppose that it is hard for your mom to look after you alone. I dont think she has anyone to help when things are sad for her. I know that, he said, but I am also sad and youre my only friend. I dont want to live like this anymore, he continued. Mommy knows that her brother hurts me. She allows him and some of his friends to do it to me. She

brings men home to do it with her and then sometimes they come and hurt me. She hits me if I tell her about it, but she gets money from them. Sometimes she even brings other men to do it with me. He paused and then said, On Friday and Saturday nights, she drops me off at the Johannesburg Station, he said. She doesnt care how I get home. If I dont make much money, she ties me up and hits me. Willie also said he was frequently left at home with nothing to eat, sometimes for up to a week. I was silent, sharing the pains and thoughts with a related spirit. How I pitied Willie. He had no siblings and I was his only real friend. I knew that he desperately needed help and I knew that I could advise him, but also that the advice would separate him from his mother forever, and may devastate him even further. I chose to remain silent. Together we enjoyed the view as the sun set behind the magical silhouettes against the exquisite evening sky. Eventually, we went inside and made the perfect dinner for seven-year-old boys. Popcorn! We showered, put on our pyjamas and got into the twin beds, chatting long after we had switched off the light. After Willie had fallen asleep, I folded my hands under my head. I seemed to identify in him the threshold of

desperation I had been close to but had never reached. I was too immature to lead him away from it, but I realised that he was pleading for help. I knew without any shadow of a doubt that I should have to respond to his pitiable plea.

When we awoke early the next morning, Willie seemed more contented than he had the day before. Willie I began. If you really are unhappy, then I know people who can help you, but you must trust them, I continued. Looking deep into my eyes, he said, What will happen then, Frankie? Theyll take me away from my mom and the teachers will do what my uncle does. I felt a cold chill as his reference to teachers made me wonder if Mr Thomas had abused Willie as he had Georgie. Have any of the teachers ever touched you? I asked him curiously. Yes, every time Mr Thomas makes me stay after school, he takes me to the toilet and I sit down and he makes me take him in my mouth. Sometimes he pays me, he said. When he sticks himself into me, he hits me with a ruler, he says it makes me tighter, but he makes

me bleed. Why don you tell your mom? I asked. Shell go to Mr Levy an make him stop, I said. She knows, he said, cos he comes to the house and they make me watch them do it with each other. Horrified, I said, Willie, think about those people. Im sure they can help. I don think theyll take you away from your mom. I did not voice my deep concern about Bertie being in Mr Thomass class.

During the days that followed, I started organising my routine, helping Bertie to get ready for school in the mornings and checking that he had done his homework. Eileen simply didnt care enough to bother about our progress. Although I tried to avoid her, I invariably spent the afternoons carrying a box of figurines from door to door, selling them for a half-crown each. What a radically humiliating experience it was. All too often, when I knocked, a school friend opened the door. One afternoon, a girl I knew opened the door. She was 13 years old and in Standard 5 at the Primary School. We had spoken before. She was friendly and invited me in for a cold drink.

I put my box of figurines on the lounge floor and sat shyly on the edge of the chair as she went to fetch our drinks. When she returned, she gave me my cold drink, and then, putting her foot up on the coffee table, sipped from her glass. I was surprised to see she was not wearing underclothes and I started to feel immense arousal, because I could not help staring directly under her dress. She was forthright, starting to rub herself slowly. Have you ever played with a girl before? I like watching boys play with themselves, she said, lifting her dress unpretentiously and stimulating herself more obviously. Show yourself to me if you want to, I want to watch you do it, she continued. My shyness was suddenly gone. I became overwhelmed with unbridled lust and stood up. I lifted the leg of my shorts and exposed myself, masturbating fast and moving towards her until I was right against her. We changed hands so that we finished, the one stimulating the other. The simplicity of the experience was excellent and I felt no guilt or negative feelings afterwards. We had wanted to do it with each other and we were both well satisfied that we did. This time, I did not feel that I had been assaulted,

Carrying a box of articles to sell to strangers was most degrading to me. In a short while, I lost any remaining self-worth and walked along with an obvious slouch, sliding my feet and my eyes cast down. How well I understood the uncaring guardian mind, the adult who would send a supposedly loved child to do this humiliating task. The removal of children into foster care is frequently not properly investigated by the welfare authorities. Sometimes, corrupt individuals ignore the motives of the intended foster parents. The greatest percentage of sexual and physical abuse takes place at the hands of guardians and their families, because the fostered child remains an outsider. Often, a psychological conditioning in which the childs personality is all but destroyed takes place. The child starts developing deep-seated issues around social adjustment and the typical but absurd feelings of guilt and complicity. With the conditioning complete, the slave emerges and the guardians expose the child to sexual abuse, incest, violence and child labour. Almost invariably, the child is then put to work selling wares on the streets and/or child prostitution. Disregarding the emotional upheaval and long-term psycho-logical effects on the child, some guardians use

him or her only as a means of income, with the child forced to admit poverty, which is a most destructive admission indeed. This is assault of a different kind on children. Such practice of forced child labour persists almost unhindered by the authorities to this very day, and the child victim consistently suffers serious severance. Interestingly, such children frequently grow up to obtain a lower level of education, which results in them performing menial jobs for the rest of their lives. Although the Child Labour Act has changed in recent years and is a remarkably detailed document, there is little evidence of its enforcement. The related complexities and complications of their circum-stances are experienced by virtually all child victims of sexual abuse, incest, child labour and violence. Their channels of recourse are seldom available to them because of fear. Bonded by loyalties, and fear of disclosure, the victims endure. The closest neighbours are invariably the first to identify irregularities and try to assist, but fear of involvement generally prevents them from reporting their observations to the auth-orities.

Eileen was avaricious in the extreme and she took pleasure in having as much money as possible. She did not care where it came from, or what lawlessness she used to gain it. In all ways, she was even worse than Kitty. She often walked the great distance to the Regal, a bioscope in Troyeville, taking Bertie and me with her. En route, we stopped at Seedats, the Indian knitting and fabric shop just a few yards from the Apollonia Street intersection. Walking idly among the racks, she picked up and looked at things. If she was unobserved, she placed them either in her familiar large shoulder bag or in Berties or my pockets. If someone was looking, she placed the items back on the shelf and would saunter disinterestedly out of the store. Her next destination would be Aunt Pams Pawnshop, just beside the entrance to the regal bioscope. She always sat chatting to Pam, a vivacious woman, diverting her attention as Bertie and I wandered around the cluttered store stealing small but valuable items. By then we were experienced thieves. Her third stop was on the return trip. It was the chemist beside the Apollonia Corner cafe. Although the chemist was very old, he worked alone. Eileen easily diverted his attention to her breasts by loosening her top buttons, and we stole lipsticks, Cutex and perfumes unnoticed. He caught Bertie putting a bottle of perfume into his pocket one day.

He was about to confront us when Eileen put her hand out, unzipped his trousers, extracted him and put him in her mouth. Jerking violently, he ejaculated quickly. He did not pursue the matter and did not ask what Bertie had stolen. Instead he gave her money, but the display of decadence in our presence disturbed Bertie and me tremendously. It was disgusting. Our sister had the morals of a sewer rat. She sent us out to steal often, and if we returned without the required items she beat us soundly. Sometimes she cruelly twisted Berties double thumb, knowing that the extra leverage made it very painful. I hated her passionately and made no pretence about it.

A man named Harry who owned a factory producing the horrible little figurines was giving them to Eileen in return for her sexual favours. He was much older than her and had become a regular visitor at the house. He had been the man at the house when I had returned unexpectedly and they had disappeared into the bedroom. One afternoon, in my presence, Eileen called Bokkie to sit on the couch beside them. She and Harry shamelessly engaged openly while Eileen shifted his hand to put it into her own little daughters undergarment. Charmaine was sitting on the carpet. In a trancelike state, she stood up

as if drawn hypnotically. She was responding to her mothers depravity. As she walked to the couch, she lifted her little dress. It was the single cruellest incestuous act I have ever wit-nessed. The dreadfulness far exceeded any that I had experienced in Aunt Kittys house. I looked away and walked out of the room. I could see no limit to my older sisters avarice. I knew that Bertie was likely to be the next child to suffer. I promised myself to prevent that from ever occurring, at any cost. The limited action which I could take needed to be extremely well calculated. My hatred became overpowering. The child in me fled and I began thinking like a ruthless, calculating adult. I had consciously bided my time and now I would attack while the time was right. Having considered the consequences and made my immense decision, I capriciously stormed into the lounge while Harry Wald and Eileen were dressing. Eileen! I shouted, startling her and Harry. I want you to decide whats best, I said more calmly, although my mind was in extreme turmoil. Bertie go and stays with Mommy forever, or I go and fetch Theuns. I steeled myself for a violent reaction. Embarrassed and blushing deeply in front of her friend, she asked in a moderate but noticeably shaky voice.

Frankie, are you mad? Yes, I am really mad and I can run, Eileen, and neither of you can catch me. Make your decision right now, I said. Harry wanted to say something and moved towards the couch, I darted to the door. Sit down you wifechasing rabbit, I said. I will tell your wife everything, so sit. I continued, If you pack up Berties things, then I promise Theuns will never hear of this, otherwise one of you is going to have to catch and kill me. I turned and bolted. I ran down Eighth Avenue shouting, and soon Georgie, Porky, Patricia, Valerie, Colleen, Barbara and Margaret had joined me. We ran like the wind but it was unnecessary, Harrys car was still standing outside the house when we arrived. We went directly into the house. Eileen was packing Berties belongings into bags and Harry was carrying the bags onto the veranda. They were like obedient children. Eileen turned with practised calm and said in a treacly voice How nice, youve all come to help carry Berties things. Oh thank you. Ill be finished in a moment. I reached Mommys home just as she arrived from work. Seeing her, I burst into tears and grabbed her in a desperate hug, crying loudly and unconstrained. Everybody, including Bertie was startled and did not know how to react. They stood around in confusion,

embarrassed and concerned by the emotional outburst. The experience had been worse than traumatic and it was incredible in its intensity. Mommy, I sobbed. I won Bertie back for you. He is going to be with you forever. Eileen and Aunt Kitty will never have him again. Confused and deeply compassionate, Mommy swayed and bounced me on her lap, holding me with both of her gentle hands, her handbag still hanging on her arm. Unabashed and emotionally overwhelmed, she started singing softly, Hush little baby, dont you cry, Mommys going to sing you a lullaby. Georgie picked up Lydia and led the other children out quietly, and I soon fell into a mentally sapped, disturbed sleep. In my mothers soothing arms, I was a vulnerable and sensitive child again. I was only vaguely aware that Eileen and Theuns arrived some time later. Eileen was cleverly explaining to Mommy that she had had second thoughts about Bertie and that she knew that Mommy needed him so badly. She had generously opted to give Bertie back to Mommy and surrender the support the welfare paid for him. I quietly lay thinking that the sanctimonious bitch had come to find out if I had divulged the secret pact we had made.

I was happy that I had managed to cunningly, albeit partially, reconstruct my family. Nothing would make me jeopardise the terms that had allowed me to achieve that objective. CHAPTER 10

Put to work

When we left Mommys home it was after dark. Eileen and Theuns, with the girls in the car, drove directly to Johannesburg Station and dropped me in the western parking area. They drove away. I knew that they expected me to bring home money by whatever means at my disposal. A small group of boys of various ages loitered in the immediate area. Willie was one of them. He came over, happily greeting me, and introduced me to some of the others. Nobody in the group frowned upon anybody else. We all knew what each of us was doing there and we were simply a group of young boys, enslaved in similar circumstances. An outlandish camaraderie with unspoken rules prevailed. We discussed our occupations, conquests, income and activities openly and had no secrets among

ourselves. One assumed agreement was that nobody would encroach on anothers prospected strike.

Pederasty (sodomy with a boy) was not an acceptable practice. Among the unspoken rules in our rent-boy community, was that any boy who encountered a pederast and did not divulge the information was ostracised. In a pederast, the element of violence is generally present. Such a person was the worst nightmare of a rent-boy but fortunately, a pederast would rarely pick up a boy in a public place. Ordinary homosexuals almost never camped (picked up) a small child, as their interests were restricted to sexual gratification. They were seldom interested in any lasting commitment and they normally went for the 14 to 18-year-old boys. Paedophiles were fundamentally restricted to paedophilia (sexual relations with a small child). They mostly wanted to enact or re-enact situations which catered for their sexual fantasies of sex with small children, but sometimes catered for their emotional needs as well. I would later discover that they often took photographs that they developed privately of Willy and me simulating sex with each other. On those occasions,

they paid us much more. Sometimes they insisted on us having actual sex, which we did mechanically, never reaching fulfilment with each other but enjoying it nevertheless. These people preferred Willie and me, because we were very young. They picked us up together or individually, and we would each have between four and eight contacts a night. Willy and I remained close and were much soughtafter for our youth. Our customers were almost exclusively paedophiles who satisfied themselves as they stared at or touched our small bodies. The faster each encounter was completed, the quicker we could return to attract another. In almost all cases, our activities had the exclusive object of making as much money as we could for callous slave-masters. These were mainly avaricious family members, but always someone who had a measure of control over the child. Invariably, they assaulted the child if he did not earn. We had no other interest in the people who made use of our services. Women and men of all ages indulged in the practices and they came to us because we incuriously catered for their needs and guaranteed full confidentiality. The world of the rent-boy unequivocally confined the dealings to easy, albeit destructive business, because we gradually became emotionally desensitised. The

impersonal relationships tended to anaesthetise us against meaningful, loving interaction and we were little more than amenities. Each encounter was filled with an indescribable mixture of fear and disgust.

Willie and I stood against the railing closest to the Rissik Street exit. A short while later, a well-dressed man wearing a long coat came and leaned against the railing about six feet away from us. The waving shadows of the ornamental trees under the dim parking-area lights obscured him. We could clearly see, however, that he was exposing and rubbing himself. He lit cigarettes frequently; the light illuminated his pelvic area and his activity. Do you both want to come? he asked. Ill pay you a pound each and Ill bring you back. Willie pushed himself away from the railing and said Okay, but you pay before we play. Okay, lets go, said the man, walking ahead and leading us to his car. I was surprised at Willys candour and felt apprehensive but I needed to learn; I followed and climbed in beside Willie on the front passenger seat of the mans car. The clinical precision and impersonal making of contact fascinated me.

Upon arriving at the mans flat, he did not attempt to treat us as visitors. It was a methodical encounter. The man (who we called the customer) simply took off his clothes and reclined on the double bed. He put a pound in each of our hands and abruptly told us to undress and come up to lie on the bed beside him. As we undressed, Willie and I duplicated the private flirtation of our first encounter in which we had enjoyed investigating our own sexual appeal to each other. Intently observing the fiercely erotic deliberate teasing between us, the man became uncontrollably aroused and masturbated vigorously. He ejaculated before we had even approached the bed. He had touched neither of us physically. And so the murky world of the rent-boy became my daily occupation.

Few people know the horrors experienced by a small child who is prostituted by his guardians. His emotional degradation and his guardians disloyalty to him is so shocking that he loses all perspective of the concept of decency. His occupation becomes his perception of normality. I was often beaten severely in cases when a customer

refused to pay. I was strangled, had foreign objects forced into my mouth and even into my rectum by some customers, but the beatings at home were even more vicious. One morning when I reached home in the early hours, Eileen and Theuns both beat me violently because I had brought home no money. I was too defeated to respond and too exhausted to protect myself. Theuns hard blow with his fist sent me into welcome unconsciousness. When Eileen beat me, she always lost control and I frequently needed to flee or to throw a barrage of available objects at her, but Theuns beatings were cold and calculated. He always trapped me in a place from which I was unable to escape and beat me cruelly with a belt, or even worse, hit my genitals with a flat forceful hand; an excruciating, crippling and deliberate torture. The malicious action created such agonising pain that it caused my pelvic area, abdomen and legs to become immobilised. Each time I stopped screaming or if I moved, he would deliver another blow, seeming to enjoy the unusual punishment.

The next evening Eileen told Theuns she needed to stay in and do the ironing. He offered to take me to the station and soon, he and I had driven to the city. He did not turn

into Rissik Street, but continued up the hill, going around the great circle on which they were constructing the proposed Civic Theatre. Curious, I asked, Where are we going? Dont worry, well come back just now, he said. I want to show you the lights at the Zoo Lake. Fear clutched my heart, for I knew that the Zoo Lake would be deserted. I thought he intended to drown me. Are you going to hurt me Theuns? I asked fearfully. He turned slightly towards me and smiled almost gently. No, he said. But I want to be your first customer tonight, so that Eileen is not upset again. I was flabbergasted. The man who had beaten me so cruelly less than 24 hours earlier, intended interrelating with me sexually. I realised that once again, I could not escape. Theuns stopped between the trees where it was very dark. Take down your pants. I want value for my money, he said vulgarly as he pulled his trousers down. My mind changed just hearing those words. I entered the dense jungle of the rent-boy and did what he told me to do. As a rent-boy, I supposed that I was ethically bound to guarantee the secrecy of the interaction. Another characteristic of a rent-boys occupation is to at will become erect without any stimulus, so I did. Uninvited, I put my hand around him and started

stroking fast but perfunctorily, not even looking at him. The anaesthetisation of my sexuality had kicked in and I continued doing it without any feeling until he was satisfied, releasing his sticky white gel over my small hand. All I thought about was money because that was the typical incentive of the rent-boy child. Here, the greatest irony had developed as I engaged in sexual activity with my slave-master, my sisters own husband. I returned home later that night. Eileen was waiting for me. How much did you make? Five pounds, I said, handing her, her husbands hardearned cash. She was very happy with my earnings for the night.

Kenneth and Marge were sacrificing a tremendous amount of time and effort supporting me in the combat against my circumstances. We met twice a week and I kept nothing from them because their efforts deserved the truth. I informed them fully of the male-prostitution and renewed attacks upon me at home. Although they were maintaining detailed records and had formulated solutions, the Department of Child Welfare would not authorise them to take any action. Those committing

blatant child abuse upon us continued with their immunity. It was a travesty that the Department of Justice was gaining information from their study, but had not allowed charges to be laid. I had been taking Willie with me to Marges afterschool centre and she had slowly gained his respect and trust. Kenneth was intrigued to hear about Willies situation and wanted to meet him. One afternoon, just before the beginning of the July holidays, as Willie and I stood at the station, he seemed melancholy and I could see the bruises where his mother had beaten him. Willie, dont you think its time to get help for you? I asked innocently. Im getting help from the people who are there to help us. They dont talk to the big people and everything is secret. They wont take you away from your mother. I promise you. You know Willie, I said. The people who help me, don judge me. They know what I do and they know why. They are good people, one you know already is Nurse Marge. Willie was silent for some minutes and I could see that he was considering the matter seriously. When do you have to see them again? he asked. This evening I am meeting them at the school hall. Please come with me. If you don want to go again, that will be okay, I said.

He smiled. Okay.

That evening, Willie and I met Marge and Kenneth at the school hall. They were surprised that Willie had agreed to come with me and welcomed him heartily. Willie, said Kenneth. I need you to know that Frankie has met with us for almost a year and he has given us much insight into the twilight world he lives in. Apart from telling us that he has a friend who needs our compassion, he has told us nothing about you. If you want us to help you, please tell us so. Willie spontaneously stood up, walked to Kenneth and climbed onto his leg, putting his one arm around Kenneths shoulder. I need somebody to talk to, Uncle Kenneth. I need my mother to stop hurting me, he said shyly. Hugging Willie gently, Kenneth said, We are here for you my boy. You can tell us anything and we will listen. The polite statement inspired Willie and he started narrating his own tale of horrifying child molestation and abuse. It took some hours for him to describe the appalling con-ditions of his existence, and gave us, even me, much greater insight into the horrifying wickedness that was

being committed on some of my closest friends and on him. His concise description of his psychological creation of two beings, a friend and a protector, stunned me, because it confirmed my theory that almost all molested children seek refuge within a more stable persona. In Willies case, he had no siblings, so he had created a second, gentle, friend, to share his burden. He explained that he too was a rent-boy because if I do not give her money, she hits me in my face and on my body with a tomato-box plank an it leaves sore splinters, he said, referring to his mother. Crying, he said, One day my mothers friends were all drunk and put themselves into me. My mother held me down, bending my body at the waist to watch them do it to me. I could not picture the dreadful scene and preferred to dismiss it from my mind. Uncle William is my mommys main partner and she always sleeps in his bed at his house, said Willie. He also sleeps in her bed at my house and they make noises and do bad things in front of me, but she is his own sister, he continued. When Uncle William puts himself into me it hurts, and if I cry she ties my hands behind my back and throws me upside-down into a bath of cold water until I nearly drown. The sheer cruelty of the debasement and abuse that

Willy endured appalled me and my sympathy for him grew. I recognised a similarity in his feelings with my own, but his situation was even more devastating. I understood his thoughts about suicide; they were similar to those of Georgies. His astonishing descriptions were more than I could take. I ran outside and vomited on the grass, and ran home without saying goodbye.

For many years, a major newspaper The Star sponsored the largest charity in the country, called The Star Seaside Fund, which sent underprivileged children from poor white com-munities in the Witwatersrand region, to Durban on holiday. The children of Bez Valley were among the greatest bene-ficiaries of the wonderful charity and that year, my siblings and I were among the children selected to go. To my great delight, so were Willie, Margaret van Vuuren, and the Kelley kids. On the morning of departure, our holiday began in Bez Valley. A huge railway bus was waiting for us at the Sir Edmund Hillary Primary School. With every seat filled with parents, volunteer teachers and children, it took us to the Johannesburg station.

The atmosphere was unforgettable as the excited children sang, spoke and shouted while the parents conversed loudly. For the teachers too, it was a holiday and, as always, The Star had spared no expense. The commotion only ceased when the beautiful hissing steam engine slowly pulled its fine Burmese teak coaches beside the platform. The locomotive was every bit as impressive as the steamroller. It had a confusing array of huge and smaller wheels, some onto which heavy steel connecting bars were attached. Other huge round pistons went into enclosed cylinder boxes. The huge smokestack belched out black smoke that went up to the already blackened roof and hung there like a cloud within the building. The brass whistle pipe and the pressure-release valve sent pure white steam hissing into the black cloud. Nothing could be more impressive or beautiful than this powerful, black, manufactured beast. As we travelled through the night, we opened the compartment windows to smell the unique smoke and feel the small particles of coal that the locomotive sent trailing behind it. The small coal particles stung the bare skin of our exposed arms in a strangely wonderful way. As the train rumbled fast over the joined track sections, the wheels of each coach dolly went click clack as they crossed over them.

During our holiday, we met many new friends and spent indescribably wonderful times together but, quite naturally, we tended to spend more with the kids we knew. Our group consisted with an equal number of girls and boys: Patricia, Barbara, Colleen and Margaret and then Georgie, Porky, Bertie Willie and me. We were among the group of children under Mr van Niekerk, a teacher from a small farm school near Meyerton. Always using the words, Frankie, come away from the girls, he concentrated only on me, continuously calling me away from the group. If I were him, I would have known better, because not having learnt more about his charges, he did not understand the volatility and circumstances of certain kids, more precisely me and the difference was indeed vast. I was a rent-boy and my specific customer base was paedophiles. I had much more knowledge of these devious things than a farm-town paedophile that preyed on the type of child who was too afraid to speak. He did not call any of the other boys away and I had noticed it. With my experience of adults, I immediately recognised the consistency of his thinking. His concentration on the gender aspect convinced me of three things. Firstly, that he was undoubtedly a practising

paedophile, secondly that he desperately lusted for me but because of the sheer number of children around, was frustrated in any attempt he could make at getting to me and thirdly, that in his determination, he was formulating a plan. To satisfy the lingering hunger in his mind, he somehow needed to devise a way to see my naked body in order to feed his fantasy with which he could masturbate. He was not interested in little girls; he was interested in one specific little boy, me. To his great regret later on, he had chosen me as his target and it would ensure his downfall. After dinner on the second day of the holiday, we were in the playground and he again called me away from the group. He held in his hand a girls dress and he said to me loudly, Frankie, so you want to be a little girl? Come and take off your clothes right here, he ordered. I immediately knew that he was putting his decadent plan into action and I knew that he was attracting attention so that he could not be accused of anything later, but I was a few steps ahead of him. I had to steel myself against the degrading experience that was developing. All the children and teachers gathered to see the spectacle and I determinedly waited for them to settle down. Then I turned around and looked defiantly into the

sick bastards eyes. Okay sir, I said. So now youre going to dress me like a girl I spose. Alright then, I continued. If Im gonna give a show, itll be on a stage, I said, pulling a chair to the centre of the great ring of children. To his surprise, I disrespectfully grabbed the dress out of his hand. I climbed onto the chair and everybody became silent as I removed my shirt and threw it to the ground. The silence was bizarre. I then danced a full circle on the chair, holding my two arms up and shaking them like a boxer. Although surprised by my showing off, the children cheered loudly and the adults looked bewildered, although they remained silent. I repeated the whole thing again, this time removing my shorts, and again I danced and again received the applause, but this time it was different. Georgie, Porky, Pat, Valerie, Willie, Barbara and Colleen had edged their way to the front of the crowd. A deathly silence ensued as everybody waited to see what I was going to do next. I insolently repeated the whole thing, including the dancing again, only this time removing my Jockeys. Here you are Doctor Mason, I shouted victoriously, recalling Dr Masons public exposure of my naked body. I quickly pulled the girls dress over my head. The betrayal of the would-be perpetrator was incredible. All the horrified teachers but one, Mr van

Niekerk, ran to reach the building to escape the inevitable blame. Mr van Niekerk could not run because my prearranged plan fell into place, my friends had attacked and were ensuring that he would certainly suffer his own lifealtering experience, as they beat the devil out of him. We never saw him again, but I was left with the indelible impression that the people who did these things, should be recognised early and that the intended victim should run to a responsible person and speak out. A responsible adult is easily recognisable and will always be a considerable challenge to a perpetrator, since strength is gained by numbers. CHAPTER 11

My foundations crumble

When we returned from our wonderful holiday, Willie and I resumed our dubious occupation immediately, because our slave masters declared they were almost destitute. The next evening, Willie and I met at the station again. We were about to leave the station when Theunss car sped into the parking area. It screeched to a halt beside us. Frankie, you must come home immediately. There is something wrong at Aunt Kittys house and all the kids

are there. Jump in, he ordered. Willie climbed into the car with me and Theuns sped away, driving like a demon. We stopped in front of Kittys house and without a word, Willie and I jumped out. Georgie ran to meet me on the pathway. Don go into the room, he warned me. Aunt Kitty has taken her poison an shes lyin there dead. Uncle Timmy shot himself and hes in hospital. They were fighting. My emotions went into freefall. Firstly, I realised that Theuns had not spoken because he had been unsure of how I would react. I felt my hair rising and I was overwhelmed with the childlike shock and curiosity that normally accompanies such news. I began to laugh slightly from shock and I tried hiding it by covering my mouth with my hands. I stood still for a few minutes, saying nothing. Then I began crying softly, holding Georgie around his shoulders. My grief was enigmatic considering I had believed that I had had no feelings for them both. I retreated into the dark cavern of emotional denial where I was not required to feel or think anything. That was my only reasonable comfort zone for the meantime. Lets go Willie, I said, walking towards the gate. I was not ready to confront the situation at that moment. Willie and I walked to his house without talking much. When we arrived at Willys home, the house was in darkness. His mother was obviously away for the

weekend again. Neither of us felt like preparing food, so we went to his room, undressed, and got into one of the two beds together. The sombreness caused us to hold onto each other and soon we were caressing. As we continued, the action became sexual and we masturbated together slowly, softly at first, and increased our pace, succumbing heartily to our increasing lust. It was the first time he and I had capitulated to our previously suppressed desire for spontaneous sex with each other. We used what was by then our considerable sexual knowledge, to extend the enjoyment between us for longer than an hour. Afterwards, we slept, more enlightened. The next morning, we awoke lazily. We threw the blanket off and indulgently aroused each other gently and without bewilderment again, repeating the actions of the previous night, until we were both contented.

There were many visitors at Mommys home when Willie and I arrived. Mommys characteristic acceptance of suffering subdued her emotive sense of loss and she held me gently as she cried. My boy, she said, soothing me. Uncle Timmy did not survive, Aunt Kitty and he will be buried together day after tomorrow.

Bertie, not yet mature enough to understand the gravity of what had happened, crept up on me playfully and flung himself onto my back, Whaa! he shouted and I pretended a horrible fright. He giggled as I swung around, threw him to the ground and tickled him a little. Leaving him and turning back to Mommy, I said, Mommy, please forgive me for being ugly to Aunt Kitty. I don know what to say any more, and then I cried, feeling authentic grief. She put her arms around me and said softly, Everybody does bad things my boy, but you are not bad, and you did nothing. Her arms tightened and she swayed me gently, as she always did.

The double requiem mass celebrated by Rev. Father OConnor Ferreira in the Bez Valley Catholic Church was attended by the greater part of the community of Bez Valley. Every pew was occupied and many mourners stood along the walls. The deeply despondent ambience in the church was almost tangible. The sunlight shone onto the stained glass of the arched windows of the church and reflected the beautiful beams of light that met in an indescribably beautiful illuminated orb.

After the sombre organ recital of the Our Father, I took Georgies hand and together we walked slowly down the aisle to stand between the two coffins, which lay side-by-side on their sparkling silver trestles. Patricia, Bertie and Valerie followed. I looked at Timmy in his open coffin and then at Kitty in hers. I stretched out my hand and placed the back of it gently upon her cold cheek. Everybody was watching us. In the mournful silence, with mild childish resonance and well-practised clarity in my alto voice, I started singing slowly, Take my hand, precious Lord, and lead me on. As I sang, no quiver spoiled the perfect solo rendition. Almost unnoticed, Sister Jacinta, who played the organ, introduced the gentlest Soto voc accompaniment. As my recital continued, I looked at Kitty and tears rolled unabated down my cheeks. My heartfelt sorrow at her demise was deep. I felt then that she needed no forgiveness from me. Curiously, I felt sorry that I had not once said, Thank you for all that you have done for me, and now it was too late, because she would not hear. The poignancy of the moment left not a single dry eye in the congregation. Even Father OConnor Ferreira was crying openly.


It was the last day of school. During the presentation evening, Willie and I sat between Marge, Miss Cindy and Kenneth. Willie and I had become inseparable and he had been accepted by all my siblings. My mother treated him with tremendous gentleness and accepted him as her own. He was spending most of his time with us and had slowly started estranging himself from his mother, who could seldom locate him in order to be cruel to him. She was, however, in the audience that night, sitting in the row in front of us. Her brother had accompanied her and they appeared to be a loving couple as they sat holding hands. A pleasant and joyous atmosphere prevailed in the hall as we waited for Mr Levy opened the proceedings. Conditionally promoted to Standard 2, neither Willie nor I received any certificates for sport. To us, it was simply comical. To Miss Cindy it was troubling, because she had noticed in both of us an obvious disinterest in our schoolwork, a distinct withdrawal from our fellow pupils, and unprecedented truancy. Her concern had grown. I was very happy and proud that Bertie was promoted to Standard 1 (skipping Grade 2).

Mr Levy said, Mr Thomas has resigned from teaching and will be taking up a new career in Durban. We wish him well in his future, and then he announced the teacher placements for the following year. I was relieved, for although Georgie and Willie had never reported Mr Thomass attacks on them, schoolchildren would be far safer with him in a different occupation. The school authorities, by moving Bertie through two grades, were obviously devising a way to have us all together in the same school and Bertie would be attending Miss Cindys class. It was painful saying a tearful goodbye to Cindy because I had always loved her gentle compassion and willingness to comfort me when she knew that I needed her kindness. Cindy, Marge and Kenneth congratulated us and then Willies mother approached, joining the group without invitation and greeting the adults ineptly. You, she said to Willie, will be at home tonight. This is rubbish that I always have to look for you. Willy was clearly embarrassed by his mothers lack of finesse but, taking advantage of the presence of other adults, he said, Mommy, I need to be at school tonight, because Dr Duncan is seeing us for the last time this year. Almost caught unawares, Kenneth spluttered from his

last swallow of cold drink and then he quickly recovered. Oh yes maam. How are you? he asked, greeting her by the hand. You see, he continued. Willie and Frankie have both been promoted only conditionally. I need to determine why these two higher-than-average pupils have delivered lower-than-average results. It is strange indeed. It is so strange, that they both seem to be suffering child abuse and Sexual Traumatisation Syndrome. Yes, he said again. Strange indeed. His acquired American drawl obviously captivated her and, using her typical conjured female charm, she swayed her hips and bent forward towards him, feigning delight. Oh thank you, my dear Doctor. I am so pleased to have someone treating my boy, she oozed pretentiously. He has such a wild imagination that he does not concentrate on his schoolwork. Oh he is such a naughty little boy, but I do love him so much, she continued histrionically. She cupped Willies chin in her hand and pressed much harder than she needed to, extracting a squeal of pain from him. Love is certainly a relative term, said Kenneth, and I am certain that you have tremendous affection for Willie, but it appears to me that the difficulties that these two boys are experiencing may require the intervention of the prosecutorial authorities before I return to America. I do hope to find them less traumatised and less physically abused when I see them in the New Year. I am not certain that Willies mother fully understood

the tart comment that Kenneth had made, but she appeared seriously traumatised at that moment and turned away from him, blushing deeply. She addressed Willie sweetly, saying, Alright mommys little love, but come home as soon as you are finished. She walked away quickly and disappeared in the crowd. The adults and children in our group burst into fits of laughter and Willie seemed less embarrassed. Kenneth said, Frankie, Nurse Marge and I need to talk to you both. Lets go to that class, it seems nice and private. With his head, he beckoned her and she smiled as she came towards us. Whats up? she asked smiling. Are we going to make trouble again? she laughed. Cmon Margery, he said. I think its time to ask these young men to help us. Lets hope they agree. We walked to the classroom and all sat down. Frankie and Willie, said Kenneth. We need to find out what you think of our plan. We know what you boys are going through and we can put a stop to it right away, but we do have considerable resistance from the welfare authorities. Our question is, for how long must we allow this to go on before we step in? The sooner we step in the better, but we need to know what you guys think. Because we have promised you full confidentiality, we wont proceed without your permission, but we feel that it

is time to release you from this hell, and we must explain the results if we were to proceed. We know that itll hurt you to take you away from the lifestyle that youre used to, and itll hurt the people around you because the welfare can be forced to take action and would probly remove you to institutions where you can be protected. Tell us, what do you want us to do? Kenneth, I said, answering for Willie and me. I don think we are ready to go to a home and we need time to answer you. Give us some time. Its not that easy, he said. You see, Frankie, by allowing these people to continue their crimes, we are condoning them. If we dont act now, were as guilty as they are and risk being charged along with them. Boys, you will be better off under the care of other people, Now what do you say? Willie and I looked at each other and then I asked, What will happen to our families. Probly nothing, he said, but we need to protect you. Think about it and let us know soon, he finished. Later that night, Willie asked me to come and sleep at his house. We ran to his home along Fifth Avenue and from a long distance, we could see that his house was in darkness because nobody was at home. Before entering the house, we held each other on the veranda in the darkness for a long while, quietly appreciating our loyalty to each other and more importantly, the loyalty to us from

Kenneth, Marge and Cindy.

During the school holidays, we spent most of our time with my siblings, Valerie who was now permanently living with Mommy, the Kelley children, Margaret and Isaac, playing in Eighth Avenue every day. During the previous years, when we had always played in the street as a group, we had such fun, but this year an unidentified dimension was missing. Our seriously fragmented family had become used to not being together for days and sometimes even weeks. The previously strong bond was now more unsteady and even strained at times. Our mother was working from early each morning until late at night in order to support the family. She did so uncomplainingly and Mrs Kelley, Mrs van Vuuren and Mrs Petroncelli helped her wherever they could. Fortunately, she received a welfare grant for Georgie and Patricia and I had made sure that she received half of the welfare grant Eileen was receiving for Bertie and me.

On my eighth birthday, Mommy and Mrs Kelley packed a picnic basket and we headed off to Rhodes Park, where we spent most of the day playing on the acres of beautiful lawn, returning home only when the trees cast long shadows. Willie had told me that since Kenneth had spoken to his mother, she had not beaten him and she was at home more often. He added that he would meet me at the station later and then he went home. Strangely, Valerie asked me to walk with her to the house, which had stood vacant since Kitty and Timmys death. I was surprised that she wanted to go there, but I saw no reason not to go and I accompanied her anyway. The evening was temperate and the sun had set. It was almost dark as we walked across the street together. She slowed down before walking through the gateway. In the garden she turned and leant against a peach tree. Ill miss being away from here, but its nice not having everybody around. We must come here every night, if you want to, she mused. I was standing close to her and could smell her arousal. The ambience changed abruptly. I felt warm and at ease as I adapted to the game she was playing Afterwards, I again felt the cruel being of my second personality come to the fore and unable to control my actions, I grabbed her throat with both hands and squeezed tightly. Realising that I was hurting her

seriously, she struggled for a time and then kicked me hard in the stomach, escaping fast. I was bewildered that I was becoming unable to control this fearsome inconsistency in my brain but I realised then that it was becoming an alarming, uncontrollable and dangerous part of me.

The next three years passed quickly and although Willie and I were already 11 years old and both seniors in standard 5, we continued renting ourselves out to avoid the wrath of our slave-masters. Each year, we had spent much of our time at the station, even going there during the afternoons. Theuns was a regular customer and always paid five pounds, two of which I gave to Eileen and three of which we saved. Having decided between us that we would save anything more than the two pounds each that Eileen and Mrs Lee demanded of us daily, Willie and I both doggedly refused to let them know anything of the money that we had saved. The cruel punishment for occasional lower earnings went on unabated and we endured the beatings for a reason. We knew that it was for a good reason indeed.

We spent a relatively quiet Christmas Eve at a party hosted by Mr and Mrs van Vuuren. Robbie and Joyce were there and I noticed that they seemed at peace. I felt the sadness they had been through, but I was pleased that they had received closure in the loss of their beloved child. Only they had suffered such an extreme loss in our community, and their gentle acceptance was an example to us all As the Christmas bells tolled at midnight, the children gathered and Mr van Vuuren gave us our gifts from Mommy, who had saved up to buy an OK Bazaars lucky packet for each of the 12 children at the party. It was then that the children excitedly called for silence and to the delight of everybody, Georgie handed Mommy an envelope containing our Christmas gift. Throughout the year, Willy and I had saved an unbelievable amount of four hundred and eighty two pounds, an average of one pound, two shillings and six pence per day. At that moment, one of the many great miracles that happen so frequently in everybodys life, happened. Mr van Vuuren announced incredulously God truly works in wondrous ways. Kittys house is up for sale at one thousand, five hundred pounds, he yelled and then he grabbed my mother. Dancing a comical jig, he shouted, Edith youre buying your own place. Timmy had died intestate and the bank-administered

trust fund for Valerie had put the house up for sale. Everyone was ecstatic that for my mother, things would improve dramatically. Nobody except Eileen has, to this day, queried the origin of the money. Our mother had always sacrificed everything for us. This was her young childrens gift to show her our appreciation for loving us unconditionally. Eileen was anxious as she drew me aside and said, Where did you get all that money? Youd better tell me or when we get home, Theuns will hit you until you do. Having helped my mother and thus achieved some type of dubious goal through my rent-boy activities through the preceding years, I impulsively decided to use this ideal opportunity to break the shackles of my slavery at last. I had taken my hated sister on before and had defeated her. Here again I would blackmail her into ending all of her abuses, including prostituting me. Eileen, I said, That will never happen again cos if you or your Rottweiler ever touch me again, Im sure that Harry and your daughters will come to my rescue. Soundly trounced by my reply, she fell silent and, paying her no further attention, I returned to the party, happy that I had finally had my last encounter as a rentboy.

Our father, Richard and his new wife Aunt Dorothy were also at the party. He drank as much brandy as he could and then, as I went out to the bathroom through the back door, I saw him sitting on the bottom step with my sister Patricia, stimulating her with his hand that she herself had placed between her legs. I was revolted. Observing the horrifying incest only for a brief moment, I felt the nausea associated with lewd acts, but more relevant, I felt the emergence of my alter ego. From the top step, I flung myself screaming onto his back, my small fists flailing wildly. He turned and, sensing my position in his blindness, smacked me hard enough to stun me, as Patricia ran away. I did not like my father even a little bit. I had heard that he was beating Aunt Dorothy as violently as he had beaten my mother. The bruises on her face were visible for all to see.

By the middle of 1960, during his Standard 8 year, Georgies health had deteriorated seriously. Diagnosed with cardiac rheumatic fever, he breathed heavily and noisily, sweated profusely and was often listless. During

the year, he had already been in hospital seven times for between four and eight days. I spent as much time with him as I could, and made sure he was taking the medicines that the doctors prescribed for him. I was always sad and extremely worried. I had a constant lump in my throat when we were together, and had to make a conscious effort to fight back my tears. In October, they released him from school because he was simply too ill to attend. I also stayed away and ignored many warnings from truant officers. I somehow knew that my brother was getting worse and I was helpless to do anything to assist him. He held me tightly many times and allowed me to cry, sometimes crying with me. Oh please God, I prayed. Anything, anything, but please leave my brother with me, cos I love him so much. He is only 16. I refused to go to school, hovering at his bedside around the clock. My heart was breaking and I tried in every way to deny the inevitable. Mommy was also distraught but had no choice but to continue working. Georgie had a cheap plastic record player beside his bed and continuously played his one seven-single record. I got up to make some cocoa for him and I heard the record end. It did not restart but made the click click click sound that seven-single vinyl record players

made in those days. The sound continued, because nobody lifted the arm. The almost imperceptible change had an overwhelming effect on me. I dropped the cup and ran to the bedroom. Georgie lay still and silent, not breathing. I rested my head on his exposed chest and for the next four hours, we were alone together. My tears ran continuously and my sobs rang out. My dear, dear big brother had left me. He would never be hurt again.



A second chance

During May 1961, Willie, Isaac and I were attending one of our frequent meetings with Kenneth and Marge. Isaac, Maria and Tonys son, and Kittys grandson, had by now joined our group. Tony encouraged Isaac to initiate sexual contact with other small children and then he would hide, observing the children whilst he masturbated unobserved. The strange twist to Tonys

deviant behaviour was that he would not emerge until after the children had satisfied their desires. Although Isaac was slightly older, Tony specified that his sexual partners, male or female, needed to be younger than eight years old. Like us, Isaac had also created an alter ego to help him escape from his nightmare world.

The meeting seemed different that evening. Marge seemed distracted and Kenneth uncomfortable. Frankie, Willie and Isaac, said Kenneth. Im afraid that I must tell you all that things are going to change very soon; in fact, this week. The authorities have at last decided to act. Can we talk about it? he asked cautiously. I sensed he was going to announce the culmination of his research programme and I readied myself to hear what was going to be said. Pretending indifference, I said, Okay, Kenneth, we know what it is, but tell us anyway. Relieved to have the apprehensive atmosphere lightened, Kenneth said, Thanks Frankie. Well then, Ill start at the beginning. Marge and I have been trying for the past few years to put an end to the abuse and

molestation that you youngsters are suffering. It hasnt been easy to get assistance from the authorities and it has been excruciating to see you boys being hurt, he paused and looked at each of us in turn before proceeding. You young men have exposed a tremendous variety of abuse that was not previously clear to me, and these abuses are normally not even considered. You have been a treasure chest of information. I had never realised that being forced to sell items on the street was such a degrading experience for a young person, and I had not been aware that it was so common. I did not realise how demeaning it was to be used as a live lecture mannequin, or how careful a teacher had to be not to offend a sensitive child by punishing him publicly. Alright then, said Marge, interrupting him. What Kenneth is biting his tongue on, she started, kicking Kenneth playfully and smiling sardonically, is that Magistrate Sinclair has finally instructed the welfare to look into your case. She doesnt want to hurt you guys, but she wants to know how she can help. Isaac, you start first. Tell us how we can help you without hurting your parents; tell us what you would like us to do, she finished. Sighing heavily, Isaac started, Well, my father still makes me do things with small kids an he hits me a lot. I want to go to boarding school an be with normal kids, but they must leave my dad alone, he said.

It struck me then that he had gained considerable maturity since joining the group and had come to terms with the damage that he had suffered, opting to leave his family, irrespective of the consequences. Kenneth said, Okay, then Isaac, but you must be sure that that is what you really want, because we cant turn back once weve started. Are you sure it is what you want? Sighing heavily and shifting uncomfortably in his chair, Isaac said, Definitely. I want to be free. I chose to speak out so that I can be helped. Turning slightly, Kenneth looked at Willie. Ah, so its you now Will. What do you think about all this? Talk to me young man, he said, smiling. Well, yes, said Willie, leaning on his elbow pretentiously. My moms never at home unless shes collecting money or hittin me. I wanna get away from her. Let them send me to boardin school, Kenneth. I don like ol men messin with me any more. Goodbye cruel world, he said jokingly, dropping his head into the crook of his arm. Are you serious now, Willie? This is an important matter and we must be sure that you know what youre doing. Im serious Kenneth, he said. I am glad I spoke out cos these things will stop, I wont be hurt any more. Now you, my little baby, interrupted Marge, looking at

me and jarring my subconscious mind back to the day when she had met me in the hospital. What can we do for you? she asked. I wanna go away too cos Im not learning much at school an the other kids don like me so I might as well go to boardin school, I said. Nurse Marge, speakin to you an Kenneth will stop all these things an Im happy that you listened. Thank you for believin me. It was the last time we would see Kenneth. He had completed a four-year study and prepared a thesis that to this day forms a small part of the foundation of the International Conference of Family Affairs. He and Marge had been more dedicated to the study than any official authorities had. They had unveiled the shocking facts about abused and molested children, but the valuable information was to be actively utilised only many years later. Our parting was extremely emotional. We had all come to love Kenneth and would not be able to see him off at the airport. We hugged and cried together, feeling a great sense of loss.

Magistrate Sinclair was stern when Eileen, Theuns, Maria, Tony, Willies mother as well as all the children

appeared before her during the following week. Dr Mason, Nurse Marge, Mrs Kelley, Mr van Vuuren and Robbie had been summoned to testify in the case. They each sketched a horror story that was, in fact, already known to Magistrate Sinclair. Our mother was not it court, the events would have been too traumatic for her. Marge told of the unofficial study she and Kenneth had conducted, concluding that all the children had categorically demanded to be placed in more secure care. Dr Mason, who had continuously received reports on Marge and Kenneths programme, gave a strong testimony. Your worship, he said. I have never in my entire career, encountered such serious physical abuse, rampant molestation and incestuous decadence as that to which these children have been subjected. Not one of these children has escaped the dire consequences of the attacks made upon them, he continued. They are all suffering the severest forms of adolescent social maladjustment, lack of self-worth, mental degradation and, even more seriously, to a greater or lesser degree, psychosis. In all the cases, I must recommend institutionalisation and intense therapy, and even then, maybe only one or two of them will be rescued, he concluded. Magistrate Sinclair was forthright when she addressed the parents and guardians as a group. I have perused all

the documents and evidence placed before me, she said, and I am horrified by the sheer self-indulgence of your acts. It is only because the children, who have not received the love they deserve, loved you enough to plead on your behalf, therefore I will not sentence you for the horrible crimes which you have all committed, she continued. She went on to commit Maria and Tonys daughter, Marie, to the Bethlehem School for Girls; Isaac and Willie to Die Bult9 Industrial School in George; and me to Boys Town of South Africa in Magaliesburg. The children are to be taken into custody immediately and will be sent to their new schools at the earliest convenience. In the meantime, they will all be kept at a place of safety, Norman House in Edenvale. Banging her gavel, she adjourned the court, stood up, winked at me and left.

Two weeks later, Nurse Marge fetched me from Norman House and told me that Robbie and Joyce were moving to George, but would like to see Bertie and me before they left.

The Hill Industrial School.

They were moving to a small farm, which Robbie had inherited from his father some years earlier. On the morning of their departure, Bertie, Marge and I visited them and gave them each a small packet of sweets, which we had wrapped in brown paper. As they kissed and hugged us in farewell, we all shed a tear because the validation and love we had received from them had made of us the greatest friends. It was a bittersweet parting. It also marked the end of an era. I never saw the Van Vuuren family, the Kelley family or the Petroncellis again. CHAPTER 13

Boys Town in Magaliesburg

During October 1958, on the beautiful undulating slopes of the foothills of the Magaliesburg Mountains, a young, idealistic Catholic priest, Reverend Father Reginald Orsmond, founded a school named Boys Town. The school was in a secluded valley, but it was a glorious setting indeed. It consisted of a thatched doublestory main building that contained the classrooms, a wellsupplied science laboratory, and offices. On the upper floor were several four-bed dormitories, a large dining room and a common room that adjoined a small

quadrangle. Fronting the building was a large parking area with steps leading down to the swimming pool and an industrial factory-type workshop. Beyond that lay the farm and a Lucerne field. Between the trees beside the main building was the guest-house, the tennis courts and the nuns convent. A sense of spring prevailed throughout the year.

I was accepted to Boys Town in February 1962 when I was 14, but replete with those distinctive feelings of confused anger, shame, lack of self-worth, social maladjustment and complicity, I struggled to fit in at first. The directorate, personnel and community of Boys Town patiently remoulded me and put the pieces back together. The tenacity of Father Orsmond, and the tremendous efforts of so many others, turned my life around. Mine was surely a direct challenge to Fathers belief that, given an opportunity, any child can be healed. It was during my privileged years at Boys Town that I truly learnt the meaning of camaraderie, belonging and social acceptance, but only to a certain point. Father Orsmond was a tall, large man who chainsmoked Rothmans Plain. He studied each of his charges

history thoroughly before accepting them into the fine school. One of the major criteria for acceptance into the school was the IQ of the boy. No boy was accepted if he could not cope with the stringent requirements for educational excellence. Fathers compassion for the boys was unlimited and he protected them ferociously. He challenged anybody who dared accuse a Boys Town boy of having been a delinquent. He maintained that he was dedicated to rescuing boys who came from homes where the boys were not problem children, but were the sons of problem parents. The gentle giants conviction that there is no such thing as a bad boy remained his life-long slogan. A particular characteristic of Father Orsmond was that he would never call a boy to his office if he needed to talk to him, whatever the reason, because he considered it too officious. He would go walking around on the grounds, puffing his ever-present cigarette, until he found the boy and would walk along conversing with him. Any boy could approach him at any time and for any reason. He always had the time to hear his kids. He took his meals with the boys and treated them as his equals. The infrastructure of the school was as precise as a finely tuned clock. Father Orsmond was the chairman, but acted only as an advisor to the Scholar Council. He was also our parish priest and confessor. Every boy was encouraged to participate in every facet of school life, from being altar boys to farm assistants.

Emphasis was placed on the rehabilitation of societal nonconformists. Naturally, some lesser-educated sections of the population had no clue what Boys Town was all about. Even to this day, certain uninformed people have a negative perception of the institution, which maintains a very fine heritage. It has yielded a large percentage of students as excellent citizens into some of the most honourable walks of life and to the benefit of general society. With few exceptions, the concept has proven most successful, and boys who completed their schooling at Boys Town have always been willingly accepted into the general social order upon leaving. The mayor was a senior grade boy, Johnny Araujo, and several councillors, each with a different portfolio, were responsible for various duties. Then there were the cops. The rest of the boys were divided into citizenship classes. Merits and demerits determined their degree of citizenship, from first-class citizens through to third-class citizens, which were the lowest. Upon entry to the school, a boy was a second-class citizen and could work his way up or down, thus giving him accountability for his own future.

Since many of the boys had been rescued from

circumstances similar to mine, entry into Boys Town was a great privilege and a long-awaited respite from the horrors we had previously faced. Many of the boys had suffered abuse and therefore, corporal punishment was not practised. Compassionate guidance towards responsible behaviour was more effective and where appropriate, improper behaviour was analysed and the boy counselled. When a citizen was considered to be disrupting the fluent administration of the school, he was placed under cop, which meant that he was to accompany a cop for 24 hours a day, for as long as he was under the sentence, and he was banned from communicating with any other citizen under any circumstances. The system worked flawlessly within the independent, well-organised community. Boys Town had six teachers who were selected from the cream of the national teaching fraternity. They, too, were scrutinised rigorously to pass the selection criteria before being accepted to perform their sensitive and painstaking task. A generous benefactor ensured that Boys Town had the best resources to make the school successful. Her compassion for the children and her philanthropic dedication was incredible but, until her demise, she insisted on absolute anonymity.

Nurse Marge had driven me to Boys Town for my enrolment, and as we parked in the shaded western side of the parking area, closest to the swimming pool, two boys of about 16 approached us. Good afternoon, said the one, shaking Marges hand and then mine. I am John Araujo and this is Holger Reichl.. Father will be here in a minute, he continued as Holger shook hands with us. Ah. Heres Father now, said Holger, looking past us to the road leading from the lower dormitory unit. A large priest, surrounded by four younger boys who were wearing swimming trunks and carrying towels, walked towards us. Upon reaching us, the boys greeted us warmly and walked on towards the swimming pool. Father Orsmond came up to us. Hello, Margery, he greeted, smiling as he folded her small hand in his great fist. I do hope you had a pleasant trip Frankie, he continued, shaking my hand. Welcome. Weve been looking forward to meeting you. Let Johnny and Holger introduce you to the boys and show you around, he said. Well go for a walk after youve seen your room. Goodbye Nurse Marge, I said, embracing her and kissing her lightly on the cheek. Ill never forget all you and Kenneth have done for

me. It was the very last time I saw her. Later that afternoon, Father and I walked towards the farm area (which was normally out-of-bounds). Frankie, he said. Look around you and youll see that everything is built well. He paused then continued, What God built is perfect and what we built, we built together. I realised then that he did not need to say more because his cryptic message made a deep, healing impression on me. I realise now that he had never referred to any of the boys backgrounds when speaking to them or to anybody else. To him, the past was the past.

There were fewer than 50 boys in the school at that time and everybody knew each other well. We knew who we liked and we knew who we disliked, but we all lived and worked well together. The daily routine was straightforward but consistent, adding a great measure of stability to the boys lives. Each morning we attended Mass at six oclock and then went to have breakfast. At half past seven, we had assembly where the South African and Boys Town flags

were raised with the appropriate bugle accompaniment and then we went to our classrooms. Lunch was at one oclock and school went on until three. Study period started at five and then we had dinner and went to shower. As it is in every community, one learns to integrate by sel-ecting the people with whom you have most in common and building friendships accordingly. Obviously, the negative effects of our past did not simply disappear overnight. With some exceptions, the boys were forthcoming but because of my extreme shyness, I did not communicate well and did not know how to accept their friendship. I was disliked by many of the boys, but at least I was never bullied at school again. Bullying would never have been tolerated at Boys Town. During my first few weeks there, however, I did make a few friends, one of which was Michael dAngelo. Michael was the supreme rebel and reminded me greatly of Willie. He was the same age as me but unlike me, he had a gregarious personality and a total disregard for authority. He was always in trouble and usually under cop. He ignored instructions not to communicate and often jumped from the top landing in the stairwell to the bottom, standing there nonchalantly waiting with folded arms, for the frustrated cop to finally reach him. His intelligence and defiant attitude appealed to me

tremendously. One evening, Michael and I sat beside the swimming pool, enjoying the slow sweep of the azure blanket with its small dots of brilliant light drawing across the sky. The light gold strip on the distant horizon narrowed to a mere outline and then it too disappeared, leaving only darkness in its wake. Do you ever see your parents, Frankie? he asked, as he rolled over and leant on his arms. I replied, I see my mom and my small brother, but I don see my big brother or my father. I cant say too much bout my family, said Michael, clearly not wanting to elaborate, but maybe Ill go to them for the next holiday, he finished. Suddenly jumping up he said, Cmon, lets go an swim. Last in is a rat. We raced each other down the embankment and, joining the six or seven other boys who were already swimming, dived into the deep end. Michael and I remained best friends for all of our time together at Boys Town. Both of us were loners and we both needed to transcend our past. Strangely, we were happy to be protected in the tranquil arms of the wonderful institution that gave everything to heal its child-victims, expecting nothing but the boys success in return.

For the Easter holidays, Father took us all to Margate, where we stayed at the Alan Isaacs camp. When we were not visiting scenic and historical sites, we went about the town freely, not in groups but as individuals. The freedom that Father entrusted us with was amazing, but it was simply his way and no boy ever abused that trust.

During the mid-year holidays, we were allowed to go home. I was alone at my mothers house when Michael arrived. Hi Frankie, he said as he entered. Wheres everybody? I dont know. I think they went to the park, I replied, noticing that he was rolling his hand on his trousers. His deliberate action caused me to feel great discomfort. He released his zipper and came to me, putting his arm around my shoulder as he masturbated. During that holiday, Michael, Paul, and Isaacs father Tony, each used me sexually. Ironically, I had never been molested at school, but on the first day of my first holiday at home, it was the first thing that happened to me. It was that holiday in hell that caused me to remain at Boys Town during all of the holidays for the rest of my

schooling. In that way, I could control any further sexual abuse upon me.

My earlier life had damaged my mind gravely and during my first few months at Boys Town it became clear to the staff that I had developed significant learning disabilities. I was way behind the others in my class. Determined not to blame me for my shortcomings, Father arranged special classes for me with Mr Mungo, our mathematics teacher. Mungo, as he was affectionately referred to, was a man in his early sixties and was a dedicated, patient teacher with exceptional abilities. Day after day, he spent hours helping me to recover the lessons I had missed or the education I lacked. He recognised my psychosis and warned me of its presence. My boy, he said gently. If you feel you need more help than I can give you, then talk to me about it. If you want to talk to Father, I can arrange that too. Sir, I said. Im the disappointment. Father an everybody helps me, but I don know whats wrong. After talking to Father Orsmond, I was surprised that he was not ready to give up on me and he became even more determined that I would not be the first failure of

Boys Town. Mr Mungo, Mr Mac and all the other teachers combined their efforts to bring me to an educational level that would see me through the rest of my schooling. They were marvellous and soon I was coping well, passing each subject with higher-than-average results. I shall forever be thankful to the wonderful people at Boys Town for their unyielding faith in me. The heartbreaking tragedy was that, even after their tremendous sacrifices, kindness, dedication and love, they had been unable to treat the psychosis in my eroded brain. That maladjustment had been caused by those who should have nurtured me as a little boy.

In January 1965, at the age of 17, I had left school and was living with my mother in the house in Bez Valley, which by then belonged to her. Lydia and Valerie were also still there. To my great relief, Bertie had been accepted to Boys Town, but my great love for him as a child had gradually waned with separation, and I never visited him at the school. One morning after my mother had left for work, I was lying in bed sleepily. Valerie, wearing her shortie

pyjamas, walked into the room and came to sit on the bed beside me. You have such smooth skin, she said, stretching her hand out and stroking my chest gently. Were alone here, she continued, stroking my chest and stomach, and then she put her hand under the blanket, taking me in her hand. Stroking me fast, she feverishly removed her pyjamas and climbed into the bed, unceremoniously guiding me into her. The overwhelming lust between us was irrepressible and we made furious love until we simultaneously reached an overpowering climax. Suddenly, wild with shock, I realised what the devastating results could be if she were to become pregnant. I smacked her and, as she landed on the floor, I jumped up, grabbed her throat and pressed hard until she stopped struggling. Fascinated, I stared into her beautiful eyes as they closed slowly. I suddenly realised what I was doing and stopped myself in horror. It was some time before she started moaning and then, getting to her feet, she fled. The tendency I had developed which caused me to hurt the girls who enticed me was troubling. I knew without any doubt that, responding to my unstable childhood, I had become a dangerous and abusive person, and it disturbed me because I hurt them without reason or remorse. I cried in self-pity, knowing that I was

a dangerous, schizophrenic, a psychopathic creation of my childhood and I would some day hurt somebody badly or may even kill.

On some days, I accompanied my mother to work at the Roxy, and sat watching movies until her shift ended at five oclock. Her employers allowed her to work the morning shift every day and a younger colleague, Annette, worked the late shift from five oclock until midnight. On the day after we had met, Annette arrived at the bioscope at the same time as we did and, without much delay, asked me to come and help her arrange her new flat in Troyeville. I went along, expecting nothing untoward. The flat was a single room with a separate shower and toilet cubicle. The simple furnishing consisted of a table, two chairs and a single bed, so there was nothing to arrange. Sit on the bed, she said. Ill make us some coffee. Its small but cheap, she continued, referring to the room. To my surprise, she unabashedly took off her shoes and dress. Wearing only her half-length petticoat and bra, she made coffee. Her shapely body and unblemished skin was beautiful and I kept my eyes on her as she

gracefully moved about the room. She handed me a mug and then tantalisingly undressed completely. Taking her coffee, she came and sat beside me. Hmmm, I like that, she said sliding her free hand up my bare leg and into my shorts. Come lie on me Frankie, come to me, she insisted, her lust changing her voice. Putting down my coffee, I undressed feverishly and clumsily climbed onto her, penetrating her immediately. I thrust a few times but I felt her becoming dry and ejaculated before she had had any pleasure at all. I sensed her immense disappointment as she moved uncomfortably under me. Im sorry, I said embarrassed, but Ive never done it properly with a woman before. The unexpected news that I was in fact a virgin, seemed to be a powerful aphrodisiac for her. We made love several more times that day, and spent the next few weeks together in her flat, making love several times a day. Out of the blue, my sexual peculiarity made its appearance. I suddenly found that I was no longer aroused when I tried to make love to her. To me, she had lost all appeal. I became embarrassed when she tried to talk about sex or when she tried to initiate it. I shied away or kept her at arms length if she touched me. I turned my head away if she tried to kiss me. She was embarrassed

by my actions and soon stopped trying to make physical contact. Although, turning my back towards her, I still slept at her flat every night, she must have believed that our relationship was over and that she was free again. On the day after I had stopped having sexual relations with Annette but still staying in her flat, I met Kathy, an effervescent and beautiful brown-haired woman. From within the first hour of our meeting, Kathy and I immediately started following a similar pattern of sexual excesses and I stayed with her when I needed to. One evening I came to the flat and found Annette in bed with Randall, a mutual friend. A completely unreasonable and uncontrolled jealousy overwhelmed me and I beat them both soundly. Randall had been severely injured in the vicious attack and ran out of the flat, leaving me with Annette lying senseless on the floor. My brutal attack had marked her face and as she regained consciousness, my fury rose. I was looking for a reason to humiliate her and grabbed her hair, dragging her to the bed. Suddenly aroused, I ripped her clothes from her and penetrated her with such force that she winced. She lay absolutely still as I raped her painfully and mercilessly. When I was finished with her, she lay sobbing quietly as I dressed and walked out, never to see her again.

I realised that my psychosis had come to the fore and that my irrational rage was extremely dangerous. I had become more violent than the devil himself. Another development in my life was that I had started drinking cheap liquor and losing perspective. I became an uncompromising young man, blind to the additional destruction that alcohol was causing to my personality, and impervious to the discomfort it caused my friends and acquaintances.

During that period in South Africa, it was easy for a white person to obtain work. My ambition had always been to work in aviation, but at 18 I was too young to enter the airline in any capacity. In the meantime, I applied for a menial position in the Department of Civil Aviation at Jan Smuts Airport. I was appointed as an airport assistant and firefighter. On my first working day, I met Debra, a 24-year-old ground hostess, working for Scandinavian Airline Systems. Youre new here, I havent seen you before, she said. Im Debra. I work in the International Departures hall. You must visit sometime. I can and I cant, cos I live in Joburg and take the

bus to work. My shifts are rough, I said. Im Frankie an I drive those little tractors, pulling baggage around. I know, she said laughing. My brother also works there and he told me about you. Pausing briefly, she continued, Ill tell you what, Ill meet you outside when you come off at 10 and we can have dinner at my place. Ive got a blue Datsun. Ill wait for you. Okay, I said. See you outside at 10. Bye then. I walked away feeling excited. She was a strikingly beautiful girl. Debra and I went to her flat and our indescribable passion started as soon as she opened the flats door. We kissed feverishly, undressing and consummating our first sexual deed right there in the open doorway.

The next morning, I was walking down the stairs in the Domestic Departures hall and I looked towards the standby cabin crew sitting at the table ahead of the stairs. An attractive flight steward was looking directly into my eyes. In my entire life, I had never seen eyes that were more beautiful than his, and I unabashedly flirted with him, making my gaze linger. The physical attraction between us was electrifying and responding, he stood up and walked up to me.

Hello, he said. Coffee? He stretched out his hand, Im Johan. Shaking hands with him, I said, Hi Johan. Im Frankie. Im on shift right now but Im coming off at two. I can meet you then if you like. Okay, he said. If Im not called out to fly, Ill meet you in front in a red Toyota Corona. See you later then. As arranged, I met Johan after work and went with him to his flat. I stayed the night and found him to be an unselfish sexual partner and an affable companion. Driving me to work the next morning, he said, You are welcome to stay at my place, if you wish. Thanks, but theres plenty for me to tell you before you make that decision. He looked at me and said, Ive already decided, Frankie, but you can talk to me whenever you want to. The simplicity of his invitation into what became a long-term commitment was astounding, but I accepted without hesitation. He immediately handed me a set of keys to both his flat and his car. I moved in with him the same afternoon. I appreciated the trust that he had in me but felt that, in all fairness, we needed to talk before he left on his next overseas trip. During the next few days, I told Johan small parts about my history, scattering the narration with truths, half-

truths and outright lies, but he listened and answered compassionately, knowing that I was masking a demoralising history.

During this time, military conscription was still in place and I received a letter from the South African Defence Force to report to the SAAF Gymnasium at Valhalla on Monday 6 February 1967. When Johan dropped me off at the entrance to the gym-nasium base, he parked outside the main gate. As I alighted from the car, a young corporal met me and shouted, Jump to it rookie, run, run, run! Although I did not know where I was headed, he instructed me to turn left and turn right until we reached the Quartermasters Store, where I was issued with a military uniform and a large bag to carry it in. I had not even had a chance to say goodbye to Johan. After I had filled my bag with the uniform items, the corporal, Corporal Janssen, shouting abuse at me, led me to the bungalow, which would become my home for the duration of my period of basic training. As I put the bag down beside the bed, which he had pointed out to me, he said, Come rookie, you want to go for a piss. It was an order, not a suggestion, and I

followed him wordlessly. At that moment, I noticed he had put his hand into his trousers and was very obviously stimulating himself. I felt trapped and anticipated that I was about to be forced into a sexual encounter that would enslave me to a young man who was not above abusing his power. My mind screamed in helplessness. Inside the ablution block to which he led me, were two men in Air Force uniforms, standing at the urinals, performing oral sex on each other. They seemed not to notice as the corporal and I entered the same toilet cubicle. Take down your trousers Rookie, said the corporal loudly, ignoring the presence of the men at the urinals. I can see that you want me. He unbuttoned his fly, exposing himself to me and silently pushed me down onto the toilet seat and himself into my mouth. He was filthy and his sickly odour made me nauseous. He was around the same age as I was and he was abusing his superiority to force himself upon me. While he continued with this sexual assault, the two people at the urinals were noisily giving vent to their pleasure, and by hearing it, he reached his fulfilment as he ejaculated, causing me to gag violently. Desperate to escape, I turned towards the door,

reaching for the swivel lock, but he put his hand on my shoulder and pulled me back. Fishing a zol (marijuanalaced cigarette) from his top pocket, he looked into my eyes challengingly and then lit it. You little queer, he said. Youd better be quiet or Ill drill you to death, he continued. He put the zol between my lips, knowing I would not protest. While I sucked hard on the illegal drug, I looked into his eyes and we both knew that had it not been for his seniority and therefore power over me, I would have beaten him to a pulp. As a young adult, I had many consensual sexual relationships with other males, but this was a forced encounter, which reminded me of my childhood. I was powerless to do anything about it immediately, but I would get my vengeance.

During the six-week training period that followed, the conscripts, who were all about 18 years old, bonded well, finding the new environment exhilarating. As the camaraderie between the 12 young men in our bungalow developed, their inhibitions faded, since we used common sleeping, toilet and shower facilities. During our first weekend, one of them challenged us

all to stand in a circle, masturbate, and thus determine who was the best endowed and who would reach his climax first. The game was an ill-disguised exercise in exhibitionism and voyeurism. At first, I found it discomforting and distressing, but since everybody else was game, I had little choice but to take part. Within days, what had started as simple banter became a regular activity in which everybody participated in the communal quarters. In the closed community of relative freedom latent homo-sexuality was generally ignored and there was a remarkable indifference to observation as sexual interaction between conscripts was barely concealed. Some engaged in sex openly in the ablution blocks, showers and even in their beds after lights-out. One evening I walked past the Non-Commissioned Officers club and, looking into the shadows of the great oak tree beside the club, saw our bungalow Corporal approaching. My mind went into turmoil and my body felt cold. In the dimness, I could see that he was stimulating himself. As he walked towards me, he reached out his hand and grabbed my trousers. I became mad with fury and beat him soundly with my fists. Coming from behind me, our flight sergeant swung a well-aimed punch at my neck, sending me into welcome oblivion. The following day, as we were drilled on the parade

ground, our bruises were obvious. Naturally, everybody knew about the assault, several conscripts having witnessed it. Although I expected the corporal to even the score, neither he nor the flight sergeant treated me any differently to the other conscripts after that, and nobody ever referred to the matter. I was never again forced into sexual activity by anyone in the camp. By the end of my period of military training, the corporal, flight sergeant and I had become excellent friends and our final parting was sad for us all.

After my military training I returned to Johans flat and when he was away on flights, I spent my nights either with Kathy or with Debra. Kathy lived in a flat opposite Joubert Park in Johannesburg and was always at home when I expected her to be there. I didnt need to call her before visiting and the relationship was comfortable to us both. One evening I arrived unannounced and one of her fellow employees, Jolene, was there. Jolene was an attractive and intelligent 22-year-old who conversed easily and progressively became less inhibited, sitting in positions that displayed her panties or her breasts to me.

It soon became evident that Kathy had arranged for her to stay the night. Although I felt a bit apprehensive, not knowing what was expected of me, Kathy manoeuvred the sleeping situation so that I was lying between them. She initiated the sexual interaction. Lying beside me, kissing me passionately, she took my hand and put it to Jolenes body as she herself mounted me. Aroused by the new experience to the greatest peak of lust I had ever sensed, I felt tremendously liberated. I penetrated the one woman whilst toying with the other, alternating between them frequently. Afterwards we lay back, content for the meanwhile. During the night, I made gentle love to each of them again, separately. While I was having intercourse with each of them, they kissed and fondled each other. I then knew that Kathy wanted it both ways and until 1982, I willingly obliged without jealousy, allowing their relationship to develop while my double-door remained open. I spent the night after my first threesome, at Debras flat drinking with her and ironically, at about one oclock in the morning, whilst she and I were making love, there was a knock on the front door. She shouted, Hold on, and we dressed hastily before she went to open it. Joseph, a flight engineer, entered and kissed her keenly while I sat on the sofa. Although Debra was slightly embarrassed by the awkward intrusion and at a loss, she responded to his caress.

Again my irrational, jealous and drunken rage was instant-aneous and not even stopping to think, I sprang to my feet and bounded toward them, smashing my fist into Josephs face. My schizophrenic possessiveness had emerged with a vengeance. Surprised by my extremely violent attack, he did not defend himself but ran to the door, escaping into the night beyond. I turned on Debra and smacked her so hard that she fell across the bed, unconscious. Then the most alarming incident took place. My confused frustration overwhelmed me and I needed to degrade her. Still drunk, I removed my trousers, ripped off her clothing and raped her, thrusting myself into her brutally. She regained consciousness whilst I was satisfying my lust in her and surprisingly, she started responding quite vigorously. She put her arms around my shoulders and pulled me toward her, kissing me passionately. Oh yes, yes, Frankie, Im there, she said, urgently driving her pelvis at me. As she urged me, I felt all of my attraction to her completely dissipate. I withdrew from her before she had finished. In my mind, I was satisfied that her humiliation was complete. What bothered me most afterwards was that whilst I had been raping her, I was absolutely devoid of compassion.

Within a relatively short time, I had twice reacted to a psychopathic tendency to demoralise women by rape. I realised that it would only be a matter of time before I would be in serious trouble.

Suddenly, in remorseful reflection, I was able to identify, although not necessarily understand, the horrifying sexual complexity and serious consequences of my abusive child-hood. My fearsome violence was beyond control and my anger authentic. I was a very dangerous individual and the implications were immense. Firstly, I was bisexual and had come to terms with that because it was not a shame, but rather a stigma. I did not care two fishes what other people thought about my sexuality anyway. I was young and physically attractive to both sexes, so I had no difficulty in meeting willing partners and at that stage, I could manipulate suitors, peers and employers alike. I was also tremendously arrogant. I had a voracious sexual appetite and needed several different lovers in my life at the same time. My lovers, male or female, had to be extremely beautiful physically, otherwise I would have no desire for them. There, too, I

had no problem. As I became used to a lover, my feelings for her or him changed within a very short time, but while my sexual attraction to that person ceased, I was unable to let them go. I would try to maintain a sexless relationship, which was unfair. I demanded continued sexual loyalty, but insisted on my own sexual freedom. I was incredibly possessive because I had never had anything that really belonged to me and I would not share. I was incapable of feelings of real love and lost my lovers one after the other. As I lost one, I simply replaced him or her with another. I feared loving anybody because the fewer people I loved, the fewer people could hurt me. I used people simply for a place to live, sometimes for days, sometimes for weeks, but apart from Johan, never for long enough to form a meaningful bond. Finally, I was an uncontrollable, violent drunk and could beat males or females equally cruelly, without the slightest remorse. In contrast with my slight but muscular physique, I was a fearsome and abusive character. More abusive than anybody who had played any part in my life. I had become the supreme bully. My seriously damaged but agile mind allowed me to control all who loved me. And my brutal and decadent youth had destroyed my ability to be kind and compassionate. It had also destroyed in me any desire to be loved. At that decisive moment in my life, I realised that I had

slowly been giving in to the monster my youth had created and that I would soon be beyond any help. I realised that if I did not actively control myself, I would indeed be beyond redemption, because not only were my actions criminal, but I was the worst type of selfish and sadistic tyrant. I needed to change completely if I was to rescue myself from my past, and I needed to do so urgently otherwise I myself would be the one destroyed. Since psychiatric or psychological assistance was, to me, only a relative science, which was still early in its research10, I had no trust that I could be assisted by going for treatment. I believed that without active participation in rehabilitation, merely talking to someone is useless. I needed to dissect and properly analyse my own condition before I could learn to help myself. For the many hours that I pondered my disposition, I felt great waves of anxiety. My tearful reflection was passionate and I considered that I was no better than the people who had assaulted me during my youth. I knew then that since I was not prepared to yield to the available resources to change my life, I would have to resort to gaining a better understanding of myself.


At that time it was an inexact but fast developing science, studied more in literature than in actual experience. Today it is a science which, already considerably advanced, is still being vigorously researched.

I would not survive my youth if I were to use it as an excuse to be the tyrant which I had become and I would never find happiness if I were to bully the people who I loved. Frustrated and crying, I restlessly paced the floor and, sweating profusely I thought about my actions. My behaviour was inexcusable since I was not a faithful lover and my possessiveness could not ensure faithfulness from the people who loved me. I decided that I would talk to Johan and when he returned some time later, we sat down, both quiet for a while before I spoke. I felt extremely embarrassed as I looked at him. He seemed so small, sitting almost regretfully on the couch opposite me. I walked to him and put my arm around his shoulder. We need to speak. I said, suddenly feeling great compassion for the small man who had done so much good for me. I know, he said as I sat down beside him. My boy, he said, you are my best friend and I believe that we are actually just best friends. I am selfish keeping you here because you arent gay and you are still young. You need your freedom and only by releasing you, can I be kind to you. No Johan. You are kind and I am cruel. I believe that you should know more about my background because

you may understand. I need to tell you about my soulsearching of this afternoon and to see if you can help me. He listened attentively as I presented a graphic, uncom-promising depiction of my formative years and subsequent development. He held a comforting arm around my shoulders and cried softly when the brutality of many incidents touched him. I will no longer use my background to perpetuate the cycle of malice into which I was born, I said finally. I need to reform and your kindness is showing me a semblance of normality. I want to stay. Frankie, he said simply, you are welcome to stay for as long as you wish and now that I know more about you, I will do all that I can to help you. Then, in few words he explained that he and his two sisters had been raised by compassionate and loving parents in a caring environment. He had never been exposed to the decadence which I had experienced. He was unfamiliar with the violence which resided within me. You have made a good decision to start accepting other people around you. You must remember that you can only gain love by giving love and in love, you should be kind. Possessiveness will never ensure loyalty, but compassion and kindness will. It was then that I saw things as Johan did. I could not earn any respect by using my history as an excuse for

being a ruthless bully. Countless people in my past had shown me a great deal of kindness and it was those people that I needed to emulate. I had after all been influenced to a great extent by Officer Robbie, Kenneth, Nurse Marge and many other people who had cared a great deal. I had received a superb education in an excellent school under considerate staff. I had plenty to be grateful for. After the day that I was accepted at Boys Town, it had been my own choice to become involved with the people with whom I had been living reckless lives and had allowed numerous great opportunities to escape me. I could at will have prevented any of the sexual interaction which I experienced. Realising the truth, I accepted the responsibility for what was reasonably my own fault and decided that I could change my life. From that day to this, I have never again abused liquor. By my own recognition of my downhill slide, I decided that liquor would never again rule my life.

One evening, there was a knock on the door and I went to answer it. It was one of my colleagues. Frankie, he said. Your mother is dead. It was shocking news and the callousness with which it had been delivered

defeated me. For a long while I thought about the soft, kind and generous woman who had stood with us through all of our lives, yet had never realised her dream of bringing us all together again. Throughout her life, Edith had been bullied and exploited, and her subsequent life-long drug abuse had been a form of escapism. She had died because the drug was unavailable to her in the hospital, which had admitted her to cure her of her addiction. The most devastating event in her life was the rape upon her, instigated by Richard, her own husband. His many physical assaults upon her were overshadowed by the rape, and her pain was exacerbated by her having to leave him and subsequently lose her children because she could not afford to keep them. On the rebound, she had met Gerhard and had suffered the same physical assaults, which she had endured to escape her loneliness. Her gentleness was exploited by Kitty and she had lost to Kitty the only thing that would have made her happy, the care of her children. My loving and gentle mother had finally been released from her tragic and wasted life. I deeply mourned her demise and after her burial, I cut all ties with my hopelessly fragmented family.


I later met my younger brother Bertie twice during my working life. We had had little contact after he finished his schooling. On two flights during the years, we had briefly met, but found that we had nothing in common and were uncomfortable in each others company. He had been married and had two children but I met neither the wife nor the children. We did not maintain contact and I dont believe I would even have recognised him if we were ever to meet again. As brutal as it sounds, I have never seen or heard from him again until this very day. For no reason that I can explain, I believe that he, too, has passed away. Patricia had married a man with whom she lived in a rooming house, somewhere in Berea. I had always associated Patricia with Georgie and after he died, I felt no desire to keep in touch with her. We too have lost contact. Eileen died of cancer some years later and for obvious reasons, I did not attend her funeral. Sometime during 1984, I attended my fathers funeral, but it was no more than a token gesture. My eldest brother Cecil died during 2000, and although I was present at his funeral, it felt like losing an acquaintance.

What was then known as the Department of Child Welfare had certainly been thorough. By an extended and massive comedy of errors, they had ensured the total annihilation of any family bonds between us.


My metamorphosis begins

I joined the national airline as a flight steward in 1971 and for eight months, I worked on domestic flights enjoying my job and performing it well, which made me well-liked among my colleagues. I consciously set out to develop a cosmetic charm, which attracted the attention of my colleagues. I made many friends, among them several ground-hostesses at various domestic airports, spending every night-stop with one or another. My first international flight took place on Christmas day of that year, and after that, I refused promotion several times in order to stay in the international crew pool. For the next ten years my life was a vigorous social round-about and I kept it that way by avoiding any

emotional ties and binds, but I determinedly changed my personality. Under Johans guidance I realised that I did not need to be aggressive to maintain loving and pleasant relationships. Other people reacted to me as I did to them. The remarkable transformation had empowered me with a great respect for other people in general and my self-esteem grew. Sharing an exciting and enjoyable career with an effervescent society of globetrotters calmed me tremendously. I gradually became unencumbered by my past and enjoyed the travelling experience. My integration into a culture of life-loving, privileged people brought out the best in me and I became a happy and vibrant individual.

Ten years later, in 1981, I moved into a flat in Germiston and took in an attractive airhostess, Petro, who worked for a domestic airline, to live with me. Petro was a vivacious girl who seemed to be compassionate and accommodating. She seemed ready to settle down and become an important part of my life. Always knowing her roster, I was often surprised to

find her away at unusual times. One afternoon we visited her mother in Primrose and the maid surreptitiously attracted my attention. Sir, she warned. You must watch Petro. She comes here to sleep with her other man. I knew that Petro had been married before, but I did not pay much attention to what the maid had said. I did, however, notice that she frequently caused unnecessary arguments, burst into tears and sped off to her mothers home, returning penitently later. Strangely, I felt no jealousy and my reactions were no more than mere disinterest. My transformation had indeed been successful and permanent. One day, after my flight was cancelled due to a technical problem, I returned home early and found that Petro was not at home. I knew that she was only flying that evening. Only one person in the block of flats had a telephone and I went down to ask if I could use it. When she opened the door, I looked into the devastatingly beautiful blue eyes of a very beautiful woman. I had naturally seen her from a distance before, but never from close up. Please maam, I wonder if I could use your phone. Ill pay the call, I begged. She said, I dont mind but I need to make a call soon,

so if youre not going to be long, its okay. Come in then. I called Petros mothers number and Petro answered. Petro, I said. Listen, Ive had enough of your playing around. Come and remove all of your belongings from my flat and I want to have nothing further to do with you. As I replaced the receiver, I turned round and saw the woman observing me curiously. Im so sorry, she said, but I couldnt avoid hearing what you were saying. Im truly sorry to hear you have problems. She paused for a second and continued, If you need to phone any time, youre welcome Im Terry. Looking up, my eyes met hers directly and an indescribable magnetism passed between us. I was touched by her instinctive understanding and immense sensitivity and held my gaze as I wordlessly walked to the gentle, refined and soft-spoken beauty. Putting my arms around her, I kissed her passionately and she responded, as the kiss became intensely erotic foreplay. We undressed each other zealously, making tender love on her lounge carpet. Stroking her body gently as we lay together afterwards, I said, And Im Frankie.

By that evening, Petro had not yet fetched her belongings and since I was going on leave, I packed them neatly into several suitcases, putting her jewellery and small items into a valise and her make-up into a vanity bag. I placed everything in the dining room, beside the front door. I did not call her again. The following morning, I was strapping my single bag onto my motorcycle, intending to ride to the airport and check it in as early baggage for my evening flight to Frankfurt. I saw Petros car approach from the main road and she stopped beside me. I continued my task without acknowledging her. Softly, she said, Let me speak to you Frankie. I am so sorry, my darling. I will make it up to you. Please just give me the chance to explain. I love you, she pleaded. I mounted my motorcycle, started it and calmly rode away, not looking back. It was characteristic of me to avoid arguments, because hurtful things, which could never be withdrawn, were always said. Also typical of me was that when, unavoidable conflict situations did arise, I withdrew decisively, maintaining absolute silence and simply walking away. Many of my relationships had ended like that, unilaterally and summarily eliminating any possible resolution. To others, that was the most exasperating part of my personality.

At the airport, I walked to the check-in counters but as I was about to place my bag on the scale, I stopped, turned around and went to the ticketing counter instead. Hi Frankie, what can I do for you that youd like me to do for you? joked Carla, the ticketing officer, flirtatiously. Hi Carla. Are you still looking for a man? I joked back. Please postpone my ticket for two months, Im delaying my leave, I said. As Carla made the necessary adjustments, I used her tele-phone to call the operations office and shortened my leave by two weeks. Arriving at home, I did not go to my flat but, still carrying my luggage, I knocked on Terrys door. When she answered, she smiled brightly at me. Youre back early, she said. Come in and Ill put on the kettle. I put down my bag and followed her into the kitchen. Then, taking her upper arms in my hands, I pressed my chest against her back and moved her silky black hair away from her neck with my chin. I kissed the back of her neck. Leave the coffee, I said. Grab a bag, were going on holiday.

Surprised, she extracted her arms from my grip and turned to face me. Where are we going, and for how long? she asked, smiling a little. Dont be so nosy, I said. But pack for a week and lock your flat. Lock your car too, were going in mine. While she packed, I went to my flat. Petros suitcases were still where I had left them and I felt a bit irate. Terry and I left at about three o clock and travelled along the R24 highway towards Witbank and beyond, stopping for refreshments and refuelling. At Lydenburg we booked into the Lydenburg Chalet Resort for the night and as I braaied some meat, she put her arms around me, resting her head gently against my back. I am going to tell you all about myself, I said to her, and you must listen very carefully indeed. In absolute detail, I told her about my childhood up until my departure from Boys Town. I embellished nothing and held nothing back. She listened wordlessly, crying softly now and then and rubbing my arm on occasion, but she did not interrupt me once. How on earth did you survive? Frankie, she finally asked. I cant believe people can do those things to children. Oh, how sad I feel for you. Terry, I said. Please dont talk about it now. I have

much more to tell you and will tell it to you during the next few days but concentrate, because the rest is the worst. We fell asleep comfortably in each others arms that night, sharing one of the two single beds. Through the open window, we heard the frogs, crickets, kiewiets, owls and jackals entwining their rich sounds into a harmonious orchestra that lulled us to restful sleep.

In the morning, we left early to explore the Long Tom Pass. The scenery up the escarpment was staggering, and we enjoyed it without talking much, but I deftly explained the historical events, places, indigenous and exotic vegetation to her. She was spellbound. The scenery between Sabie and Graskop delighted her and we arrived at the Three Rondawels Resort just before 12 oclock. Finally, relaxing in the luxurious chalet, I continued my narration to her, describing the effects of my youth. My childhood has made me into a violent psychopath, I said and explained everything leading up to my self-analysis and my discussion with Johan. My explanation was frank, forthright, complete and truthful; I even warned her that any long-term relationship with me may well be a sexless one because of my

unconventional approach to the subject. Terry, I concluded. I want you to think about what I am saying, and the terrors attached. Think clearly and when you have thought, explain your conclusions to me. Only then can we proceed. Think with your brain and not with your heart. Think for yourself and not for me. Impulsively, I said to her. I can offer you nothing; I cant even guarantee that I will love you, but I want you to consider marrying me. Oh, Frankie, I will, I will, she said, tears coming into her eyes as she threw herself into my arms, kissing me excitedly. Together we jumped up, dancing round and round to the music in our minds, laughing, hugging and kissing. 24-year old Terry was different to any of the girls I had ever known. She radiated love and compassion. Frankie, she said. I have come out of an abusive marriage only a year ago and my mother has been trying to force me to marry a man who is rich beyond my wildest imagination. I have been going out with him for a year but he irritates me and I broke up with him. My mother was furious when I told her, but I wont return to him. His money cant buy my love. Now you crawl out of the woodwork and tell me that you dont love me, but you want to marry me. Youre nuts, but yes, I do love you and I want to marry you. I had not given a thought to the problems that this

diminutive woman had suffered and yet, with her natural gentleness, she emitted an impression of serenity and tangible inner strength. Her eyes glittered with her lustfor-life and denied her painful past experiences. Her calmness belied the turbulent family influences that had been brought to bear upon her. I sincerely hoped that I would be able to fall in love with her and I would do everything to make that possible. For the first time in my life, I realised that I would have to tear down all of the walls which other people and I had built around me. That would be the only way in which I would be able to love her unconditionally. If I were going to change, it would have to be of my own volition and it would be a commitment far greater that any I had made before. I realised too that I had never really had a love for life, but that with Terry, my life was only just beginning. I would either have to write off the past and become an asset to humanity, or I would remain a worthless reprobate.

During the following days, determined to make a complete new start, I severed ties with all my previous lovers and anybody who could pose a threat to our happiness.

Two weeks later, at nine oclock on Wednesday 20 January 1982, I returned from Perth and before leaving the airport, applied for the balance of my leave. At two oclock that very afternoon, 24-year-old Terry and I were married in the magistrates offices in Johannesburg. I was 32. Terrys mother was furious that she had got married without even consulting the family because shed had great ambitions for her younger daughter. She favoured her other daughter, who had married a very rich man called Jonathan. Terry visited her parents frequently and enjoyed the opportunity to share her tales of happiness with them. One afternoon, after such a visit, she returned home crying bitterly. They will never accept you, my love, she said. They always say that youre nothing but a product of a childrens home. Calming her down I said, Baby-doll, your mom has the right to choose, but you mustnt let it upset you. I dont mind you visiting them alone, they are after all your family, so come on now, and dont worry. I felt surprisingly gentle towards her and hoped that the situation would change, but inwardly I knew that because they had rejected me, Terry had revised her loyalties and her familys attitude caused them to lose her, because they could not fulfil the love that she desired.

From my side, I was aware of my psychosis and had convinced myself that she and I were just friends. I had done so in order to protect her from my jealousy. The truth was that I truly loved her from my very soul and as time went by, my love for her became more intense. I knew that I could never be jealous of her because her love for me was so authentic and complete that I could not lose her. She desperately wanted my love, never questioning the reasons behind my reticence and not despising me for it. For the first time in my life I could say to her I love you as many times a day as I wished to, and know that it was true. To myself I had revealed the sentiment, which had previously been nothing more to me than hollow words.

On Sunday 24 January, I flew to Hong Kong on my last flight before my leave was due to start. There, I bought an intricately carved table and two wonderful decorative fans for Terry. In those days, one could negotiate with traders in most foreign countries, with the exception of the United States. I did, however, manage to negotiate a good deal for a 1.70 karat diamond, which I intended to have set on my return to South Africa. I also had a rice paper love card cut for her.

Terry was waiting eagerly when I landed and admitted later that it had felt like hours before I came out of the customs hall. We hugged unabashed and I lifted her off the ground as I kissed her, my cap falling to the floor. I have a surprise for you Baby-doll, I said, intending to give her the ornate card. And do I have a lovely surprise for you, Love, she said excitedly. Unable to contain her delight, she blurted out, Youre going to be a father in about August. My happiness was indescribable and many people around us were smiling at our beautiful reunion. In my heart, I felt enormous love for the woman who I had been afraid I could never love.

Terry was surprised when we walked to the ticketing office instead of to the exit. Carla was on duty and looked up as I approached with Terry. Hi Frankie, she said, Where are you off to now? Hi Carla, meet my wife Terry, and make it two ID90s 11 to Frankfurt, Berlin and Munich.


ID90 was the airline term for 90%-discounted flight tickets for aircrew.

What? she laughed, covering her mouth with both her fists. You didnt? I bet you didnt? she giggled delightedly. She came out of her cubicle, grabbed Terry around the waist and danced around and around. You got him, gal, she said, You got him good and I love you for it, she kissed Terry on both cheeks and hugged her tightly. Cmon now Carla, I smiled, come do your job. Frankfurt tomorrow, Berlin, Munich open, and Joburg in two weeks. As she detailed the tickets, she joked with Terry, Did he ever take you to bed? Ive been trying for years, but hes too chicken. Terry blushed and giggled, taken in by Carlas raw humour and open demeanour. Staff-credit or cash? asked Carla. Cash, I said, taking out my wallet and paying her the two hundred and forty three Rands. How heavy? I asked. Is there any chance of a bump? She looked at her screen. 132 pax and yes, I can bump you now.12 She made the adjustments and handed over the tickets. How lovely you are, my sweetie, she said to

A bump means to be upgraded from economy class to business class and pax means passengers.

Terry smiling. She waved at us as we walked away.

The next afternoon, Terry and I arrived at the airport early and checked our baggage. She was very excited, since she had never been on an aircraft before. When our flight was called, we went through passport control and out to the aircraft, where I let Terry sit by the window. After pushback, the huge Boeing 747 rolled faster and faster to the threshold of the runway where we waited for another aircraft to land before our take-off run. Terrys knuckles where white as she clutched the armrests and I held her hand with both of mine. We climbed through grey cloud into the clear sapphire sky above, with the last rays of the evening sun shining pink and gold on the clouds, now many feet below us. We had a wonderful two weeks in Germany, travelling to Berlin, Munich, Darmstadt and Garmisch, from where we took the alpine cable car up the Zugspitze. Terry maintained a delightful girlish fascination for the beautiful country where, at that time of the year, the sun rose at four oclock in the morning and set after 10 at night. She was enthralled by the quaintness of the smaller towns like Seeheim, where cattle were kept in the yards to supply milk for the family.

The narrow cobbled roads and the contrasting Autobahn amazed her, and she compared the sophisticated German transport infrastructure with our poor one at home. We visited castles, churches and cathedrals. In Munich, Listening to and watching the Glockenspiel at midday, our eyes abruptly met and locked. For seconds, the ambient noise faded and our love for each other was confirmed as it filled our hearts to bursting. How could I not feel magnificent love for this wonderful woman? The woman who was to be the mother of my child. All too soon, we returned to South Africa, wiser, happier and very much in love.

Another tragedy was in the offing. When I went to the airport to check my bookings and opening my mailbox, I found what every flight crewmember feared, a red envelope13. Before I even opened it, with a fearful feeling of impending doom, I went to the flight roster and saw that my name had been removed. I already knew what the letter would contain. Dear Sir. This is to request that

During those days, a red envelope indicated that the recipient has been removed from the roster and would not undertake his next flight until he has complied with the request to visit management.

you contact the Human Resources Manager at a mutually suitable time. I went to the Personnel Office and reported to Ron van Schalkwyk. We knew and liked each other well, so he didnt beat about the bush. What can I tell you Frankie, he said, looking down and rolling a yellow pencil between his fingers. We have a position in cargo, if you want it. Thanks Ronnie, but no thanks. Just tell me why? I asked, looking directly at him. You are suspended until the meeting Frankie. You are not allowed to fly serving passengers in any capacity. I know that, I interrupted, but why now Ronnie? Whats your advice? You have Diabetes 2 Frankie. Anything we can offer you is riding a desk. He looked sad and I believed his pity was genuine. I had never been aware that I had diabetes. Good grief, I said. Retirement at my age, what will I do with the rest of my life? Frankie, early retirement is also not on the table. Its a ground job or voluntary resignation. Im truly very sorry. He stretched across his desk and put his one hand on mine. There is something else Frankie, but it is very cruel and I dont know if you want to hear it, he said. Your PPA (Psychological Profile Assessment) came

back negative. That news was a serious blow to me because it confirmed the damage that my childhood had caused. In that minute, I had lost everything I had worked my whole life to attain. I was a complete failure. I was unstable on my feet as I left his office, my mind was in turmoil A few days later, after much thought, I calmly said to Terry that I would not be flying again and I explained to her what had happened. Dont worry my love, she said simply. Well make it to-gether.

Terry and I were very happy indeed and she gently soothed away any sorrows we encountered. She held our marriage together. By June, she was wearing maternity wear and we made frequent visits to the gynaecologist. We had bought so many baby clothes and necessary items, that we needed nothing more by the time she went into labour on 8 August 1982. I remained with her in the hospital from 3am until our little boy was born at 11h36. I cried unashamedly when the infant yelled, whilst I held Terrys hands in mine. I kissed her and said Thank you Baby-doll, I love you

more than I can say. Sitting in Terrys private ward, waiting for her to recover, I reflected on the months since I had met her and realised that I had not even thought about my past since then. I knew my life had indeed changed forever. It amazed me that I had accepted my responsibilities well since coming to terms with my life when I had spoken to Johan almost eleven years earlier. Despite having to leave the airline, I was building a stable life for Terry and would continue doing so for our little baby boy as well. She stirred and I came to her bed, Baby-doll, I said. You are all that has ever meant anything to me and I need you more than ever. Thank you for always being there for me, my big girl. and I took her hand, belatedly sliding the beautiful diamond ring onto her finger. She stared at it as tears rolled down her face. My love for her was more complete than I had ever anti-cipated. Using her bedside telephone, I dialled her mother. Hello Mom, I said. Please hold on, Terry would like to talk to you. I handed the receiver to Terry. Hi Mommy, said Terry into the receiver, shifting herself into a more comfortable position. Weve had a little boy, she said. To my dismay, I heard as her mother said to her, That

little Italian bastard doesnt come into my house. I heard a click as the line went dead. Tears were welling in Terrys beautiful eyes. I held her and kissed her.

I fetched Terry and baby Francisco from the hospital on 11 August 1982. The nurse carried our little boy to the hospital exit and then handed him to Terry. I wondered at the fragile infant and felt again that choking feeling that prevented me from talking. I put my arms around them both, my love flowing silently as my chest heaved. I was overwhelmed with joy. As we approached our flat, a removal truck stood outside the block and I parked directly behind it. Dont get out Baby-doll, I said. You or our little man there will catch cold. She looked at me quizzically as I stepped out of the car and approached the truck driver. When I climbed into the car again, I said, Terry, for all you have done for me, were changing lodgings. I pulled past the truck and it followed us. And just where do you think we are going? she asked smiling. Youll see, I said. She laughed and tickled our baby under the chin. She knew I was up to something, but she trusted me.

We drove to Eikenhof and turned in at a large plot on which stood three houses. In front of the middle house stood a brand-new luxury touring coach and we pulled into the driveway. Welcome home Baby-doll, I said. This is yours, I said, pointing at the house, and then pointing at the coach I said, and that is ours. My pension had been paid out and I had bought the house on auction for R20000, registering it in Terrys name. The touring coach had cost R260000 and the pension money I had received was almost completely depleted.

In the months after our sons birth, Terry and I opened a travel agency and touring company, taking older people on tour to various destinations. She did the sales and bookings, while I did the driving and guiding. The operation became extremely popular and by August 1983 it was a well-established company, registered and listed with the South African Travel Association. Terry would sit in front of the sewing machine hundreds of headrest covers for the coach. She worked late into the night watching over our son, Francisco (Chico as I nicknamed him), hanging in his Jolly Jumper from the doorframe,

Terry was a fine, compassionate wife who at any time of the day or night was always waiting as neat as a pin for me to arrive back from my tours. It was characteristic of her to run towards the coach and fling herself into my arms as I descended the steps. Hello, love, you must be tired. Come, the coffees ready, she would say. I was absolutely overflowing with the greatest gentleness I had ever felt, but I also accepted her unfettered love, which had made me feel accepted and whole for the first time in my life.

Chico was growing up fast. He was a year old and he and I loved our games together. I would run to a bedroom and, hiding in a cupboard, I would call him. He would go to the doorway of each room and say Caw, (call) while I would laugh delightedly, slipping unnoticed from cupboard to cupboard. Chico certainly knew that he could toddle his way to anything that he desired when I was at home. He took advantage of it, often moaning in his baby talk when Terry called him to bath or eat. He would run haphazardly to me and rest his elbows on my lap, putting his face in his hands and then Terry would fly in, Dont you be defiant to me, little man, she would say. She and I would both burst into fits of laughter.

I regularly asked Terry to stop giving Chico milk because it was making him fat, but she insisted that he needed strong bones. Well then, feed him marrow bones, I would chuckle. Returning from a tour that August, I brought home plenty of Lego toys for Chico and a massive box of chocolates for Terry. Baby doll, I said. This is just to say Thank you for all the wonderful things that you do for me. She cried, pleased with my small gesture of appreciation and fatefully, that night, we made tender love again. By October, it was evident that Terry was again pregnant and we made an appointment with the gynaecologist. He confirmed that she was pregnant and that both she and the baby were healthy. From that day, I took Terry and Chico with me on every tour, employing a Rhodesian (Zimbabwean) girl, Amanda, to run the agency. By February 1984, I could see that Terry was tiring easily, so I cancelled all further tours for that year. The agency however, remained open and it was run well by Amanda. Every night, I gently massaged Terrys breasts and abdomen with Happy Event and she spoke to me about all the things that she was preparing for the baby, which a sonar scan had indicated was a girl. At about two oclock on 20 April, Terrys amniotic sac

ruptured and she went into labour. I called the gynaecologist and he told me to have Terry at the Park Lane clinic at seven oclock that evening.

I arranged with Amanda to accompany us to the hospital and return home with my car to look after Chico until Terry and the baby came home. As we drove, I lit a cigarette and Terry gently said, Love, you must stop smoking those strong cigarettes. You smoke too much anyway. Leave him, joked Amanda. Youll collect on his insurance soon. We all laughed. At the hospital, we were filling in admission and waiver forms, when the gynaecologist and another doctor walked in. They walked Terry up the steps to the first floor and with Chico in my arms, I ran to kiss her. She kissed Chico and me, smiled her gentle smile and walked away with the doctors. Since the doctors, for no reason that I knew of, intended doing a caesarean on her, they did not allow me to accompany her. I sent Amanda home with Chico and waited upstairs in the corridor until they wheeled Terry out of the theatre and into her private ward. I followed them into the ward and sat on the chair as they moved her onto the bed. At

that time, I was not aware that the doctors had done a caesarean section. It was some time before she started moving and I reached her bed when she was almost lucid. Hello love, she said, smiling weakly. Hi Baby-doll, weve now got a daughter too. Unfortunately for you, she looks like me, I said, kissing her cheeks. She smiled again weakly. Im going to let you sleep a bit; Ill be downstairs in the lobby when youre awake, I said, leaving the room.

I had been sitting in the foyer for about 90 minutes when the gynaecologist and the other doctor came rushing in the front door. I stood up, walked to him and shook his hand, Thank you Doctor, I said. Thank you very much. Thank you for what Frankie? Your wife is a very sick woman. I think you should come and wait upstairs for me, he said, rushing up the steps. Feeling more distressed than ever before, I followed them up the stairs. Just wait here in the fathers waiting room, he said curtly, Ill be with you shortly. Hours passed and I heard a woman scream; it was not

Terry and soon two professional nurses walked past me, both crying. I stood up and asked if Terry was okay, but they both avoided answering and walked on. The doctor will be with you soon. The unexplained behaviour made me extremely anxious as I waited to see Terry again, but at about a quarter to 11, the gynaecologist came along the corridor, looking at the ground and walking very slowly. He was about eight metres from me when he spoke. I dont know how to tell you this Frankie, but there were complications after the C-section and your wife died 10 minutes ago of an amniotic fluid embolism. I screamed a long sorrowful scream from deep within my soul and dropped to my knees, feeling my world crumble. A small, blurred, vacuous sphere encompassed me and I could see nothing beyond, nothing at all. My grief was beyond description. So complete had our joyous isolation been from the rest of the world that I had nobody to call on. So complete had the fragmentation of my own family been that I did not even know any of their telephone numbers. So at four oclock in the morning, I eventually called Amanda and asked her to bring Chico and fetch me. I did not tell her why. I called Terrys mother, who Terry had not seen since Chicos birth. Mom, I said. Can you come to the hospital, please?

Whats wrong, Frankie? she asked, hearing the deep sorrow in my voice. Oh, she said. Its Terry, is it? She instinctively knew that the news I could not explain was the worst. My sincerest regrets Frankie, Ill let the family know. How is the child? she asked. Okay, Mom. I cant speak now, Ill call again later, I said, putting down the receiver. Amanda arrived with Chico, asleep in the car. I told her what had happened They want me to go and identify Terry but I cant, I said. Can you do that for me Amanda? I will be indebted to you. I remained in the car with Chico, crying softly as Amanda went in. My mind was in turmoil. When Amanda returned, she placed a small cotton bag containing Terrys belongings into my hand. I told her that I could not go back to the house and that we must go to the Holiday Inn off Empire Road. I booked Amanda and Chico into a double room and myself into a single. From my room, I called Terrys sister and asked her to have everything removed from the house at my expense, and to pack Chicos and my clothing and documents only, into bags. Later, I took Amanda and Chico to lunch and there I tearfully explained to him that Mommy would not be coming back. With his clear, innocent eyes, he looked curiously into mine and putting his hand upon my forearm, he said, Daddy tired? Du-du my daddy. He

patted my arm sympathetically. That compassion from my infant son cemented the wonderful relationship between him and me for the rest of our lives. Unable to contain my grief, I stood up and ran between the startled hotel guests to my room. I flung myself on the bed and cried uncontrollably for many hours. During the next three days, as I made the funeral arrange-ments, I destroyed all photos and anything that would remind me of Terry. I kept nothing. I gave Terrys ring and jewellery to Amanda, and I gave the documents and keys of the house to Terrys mother, who accepted them with pretended sadness.

At the funeral, the front two pews on both sides of the church were left open for the family, and Terrys family sat in the left pews, ignoring me as I sat isolated in the front right pew. I had expected it. I did not approach the coffin at any stage. I was absolutely destroyed and surrounded by people who could not possibly understand my feelings, although Boys Town was represented by two nuns, and the rest of the church was filled with our former passengers and friends. Terrys callous mother approached me at the

cemetery, blatantly coming out and asking if I would consider having Terrys sister adopt the baby. I could not answer. I climbed into my car and drove away, allowing the overall-clad cemetery workers to shovel the cold, red soil over the coffin of Terry, my beautiful, young, beloved wife.


Still staying at the Holiday Inn, I asked Amanda to stay on and look after Chico until I could sort myself out. I did not know how long it would take. I assured her that her job was safe and that I would be paying her double salary for the extra time. I handed her a wallet containing enough cash for her to look after and entertain Chico. Daddy sick? Daddy? asked Chico, and my feelings for him exploded as I fought back the tears. Daddys okay my boy, an Daddy loves you so much, I said, hugging him tenderly and turning away so that he wouldnt see my grief. From the hotel room window, the hospital was clearly visible; my daughter was lying not even 500 metres

away. Although I had stopped using liquor, I ordered a bottle of whisky. It did nothing to soften the blow, so I stopped at three drinks, but remained inebriated for several hours afterwards. I considered my options carefully. I would not possibly be able to raise Chico and a vulnerable newborn baby girl as well. I would not marry again, and I needed to operate the touring company to earn money, ensuring our survival. On the other hand, Terrys sister had been married to a millionaire executive, Jonathan, for 12 years and had not been able to conceive a child. But if I allowed them to adopt my daughter, I would have to know that she would be well cared for and loved unconditionally. I would have to withdraw from her life completely in order for her to have a stable upbringing in which she would never know that her natural parents were not the parents who raised and loved her. I lifted the telephone receiver to call Jonathan.

It was impossible for me to return to the house that Terry and I had shared. Naturally, it would take some time

before the legal procedures would be finalised and so I let Amanda remain there and run the agency in the meantime. I allowed her to subcontract all of our tours to other tour operators, at her discretion. My grief was overwhelming and I needed a retreat, so, using the compassion of a few influential acquaintances, I secured temporary accommodation for Chico and me in a wooden house in the government village beside the Rand airport. I had tremendous difficulty sleeping at night and, carrying Chico on my shoulders, invariably walked the short distance to the Transvaal Aviation Club, returning to the bungalow only after the club had closed. I had little interest in doing anything constructive and sank into a deep depression, but pretended everything was alright in order not to alarm my beautiful and compassionate young son. Chicos closeness and infantile understanding of the gravity of the situation was unbelievable and he was my pillar of strength. He would lie next to me on the single bed, stroking my face and saying Daddy okay? Sleep, Daddy. He seldom fell asleep before I did and his loving care over me was so intense that I could not believe how deep his perception was at the tender age of twenty months. His gentleness defies description because it was all that allayed my thoughts of suicide. I only had my

wonderful son to live for. We had been living there for about three weeks, when one morning I was awakened by a tremendous crashing at the door. Suddenly a bunch of huge men burst into our bedroom and, before I could get out of bed, they were hitting me violently with batons and sjamboks 14. They were shouting in Afrikaans, demanding the gun and to know who else was in the house. They ripped Chico from my arms, threw him cruelly through the air and he fell screaming against the skirting boards of the furthest wall. At that moment my madness erupted and I fought back against the nine plain-clothed police officers who had invaded our privacy. The confusion was tremendous and terrifying because at no stage had they given me time to speak and they did not identify themselves, but several of them had their firearms trained on me. I was almost sure that they would kill me. Thinking only of my child, I stopped fighting as they continued beating me mercilessly, then they handcuffed me and dragged me to a waiting police van, throwing me into the back of it without a thought of the injuries I could sustain. The van was driven with incredible recklessness and I was flung from one side to the other, crashing painfully against its welded benches. When it stopped, I was dragged almost unconscious into the Germiston police

a short whip made of rubber

cells, where I was confronted with an even worse horror. In one of two adjoining cells were some very large and unruly-looking men lying on grey blankets spread on the floors. They had also been arrested. After the police officers had left, three of them stood up and grabbed me. Ripping down my jockeys, they each raped me with extreme violence. The terror that I felt was indescribable. All my childhood experiences coursed through my mind as the men continued to violate me. Mercifully, my selective memory has blocked some of the devastation of the multiple rapes of the Germiston incident to this very day. Although the cells were only a few metres away from the charge office, not one of the police officers responded to my desperate screams. About an hour later, I was led into an office where a pompous-looking uniformed warrant officer sat behind a large desk. Probably because I was wearing only a bloody T-shirt and an excrement-stained and bloody pair of Jockeys, he would not allow me to stand near him. Well let you go, he said in heavily accented English, if you sign this paper, throwing a printed document over his desk so that it landed at my feet. Through the coagulating blood on my eyelids, I could read only the heading, which said Indemnity in bold, black lettering.

The police officers who had attacked me, were renegades from a normally dedicated discipline and had, entered my private domain unannounced, injuring and arresting me for no reason. I did not know if Chico had been hurt, and had no idea of his whereabouts. They had acted savagely and until that very minute, had given me no reason for their attack on us. They had levelled firearms at me and terrified my child. I had been gangraped under their noses and they had not even responded to my cries. I immediately felt the hottest fury that I had ever felt in my life. Listen you stupid savage, I said. You keep me here for as long as you like but when I get out, Ill sue the shit out of you. The officer was stunned as, leaving the document lying on the floor, I turned and walked out, through the charge office, onto the sidewalk and all the way back to the government village, wearing my bloody T-shirt and underwear. Searching for Chico was an excruciating and alarming experience. I did not bother to clean up when I arrived at the bungalow. I entered through the broken door and grabbed my Triumph Spitfires keys and a pair of jeans, donning them as I jumped over the door of the little sports car. Maddened by anxiety, I raced around the village stopping complete strangers and begging them to tell me if they had seen Chico. Please help me, I cried. Where

is my child? Eventually, the old widow who occupied the bungalow beside ours, stepped in front of the car, waving. She peered at me through the cloud of red dust thrown up by the tyres, and, stretching out a thin, wrinkled arm, placed a crumpled piece of paper in my hand. On it, in untidy script, was scrawled a telephone number with a Boksburg prefix. Insane with a combination of anxiety and horror, I raced my little car to the boundary fence of the airport. Jumping over the door, I left the engine running and bounded through the gap separating the village from the now-restricted area. I ran breathlessly into the nearest hangar, ignoring the startled aviation personnel. My childhood sojourn at the airport had equipped me with a detailed layout of every inch of it, so I burst directly into an office where I grabbed the telephone and dialled, disregarding the alarmed man sitting behind the desk.

I had no words to say to the people who had my child at their home. I felt no more fury and I responded only to the amazing relief that overwhelmed me as my little boy ran into my arms. My life was again complete as I held him, crying unashamedly in front of the strangers. Chico responded to me as if I were his personal hero.

He held me tightly and kissed my wet cheeks incessantly until I placed him in the car and opened the other door to climb in myself. With my son in my arms, I visited an attorney immediately. He decided to sue the police for R20000 and advised me to get a medical report. In trusting confusion, I selected precisely the wrong doctor to go to, the district surgeon, who superficially examined me and did a brain scan. His report was shocking because he wrote on it that I had frontal lobe injury, probably because of alcohol abuse. He also reported that there was no indication of anal trauma and that it was unlikely that I had been raped. Two days later, the attorney visited me and told me the reason behind my arrest. A neighbour, the son of the woman who had told me where to find Chico, had fired his revolver in a municipal area. His dog had been injured by a car and he had shot it. The attorney said that I was to attend an identification parade with the police officers lined up. I relished the moment, because how could I forget the fat, red-haired mongrel who had brutally attacked my infant son and thrown him against the wall? My dreadful humiliation in front of my son was my most haunting consideration. I would not even dare to analyse Chicos terror. I had not been able to protect him from them.

To me, it was almost comical to see the cowardice of the men who, in a group, had appeared to be so brave. As I entered the room where about 20 people were assembled, I saw five men in each of four rows. Some tried to intimidate me by relatively subdued mockery, but it did not work. I saw several of the ringleaders actually trying to hide behind their colleagues and, surprisingly, I could with all honestly touch the shoulder of every single man in the back row. Touching the red-haired mans shoulder was delightful, because I felt him tremble and heard him whimper. On Monday, 4 June 1984 the Station Commander of the Germiston police, accompanied by two other senior officers visited me. You know, he said, at this critical stage in South Africas development, you should not allow the black peoples minds to be filled with ideas that the whites fight among each other. If this case goes to court, then you will be branded as a traitor. I looked at him blandly as I picked Chico up, Sir, I said. I will not even try to educate you, but you are referring to people who have much more compassion than your barbaric horde. I will not consider withdrawing my lawsuit against you. If you persist in harassing me, Ill discuss the matter with my lawyer. That very afternoon, my attorney arrived and told me that the matter had been settled in full. The court case would have taken place the following day.

As a child I had been molested to demoralising extremes but ex-periencing multiple rapes as a man, and within metres of people who were appointed to protect society, was unbelievable. What affected me most, was that the perpetrators of the rapes have never been identified nor prosecuted. I did not need the money from the lawsuit, but I needed to make a very valid point of principle. The people who had done this to me were rare individuals who did not confine themselves to the mandates they had received from the honourable institution that had empowered them. The police department is and always has been the single most effective deterrent in the national forum against child molestation and abuse. They need the general population to support them in their selfless quest and they need to be entrusted with matters of life and death. The undeniable truth is that every case of abuse that is not reported to the police is an act of complicity; because it allows the criminal to walk free, to injure another child whose innocent and trusting mind becomes damaged. A few rotten apples does not indicate a rotten tree, so although very few individual renegades may embarrass the police institution, it does not tolerate abuse of power.

Upon the discovery of rebel police officers, it removes them from their positions, summarily. I salute the responsible people in the police department for their dedication to the protection of the innocent, and I was happy to be of assistance in ridding them of some of the renegades who had shamed them. My mind was seriously affected by the tumultuous events that had taken place, but with my infant son giving me all his love, I somehow managed to get through it for him. Losing my sanity, and being able to hide it well, made me even more determined that our future would be full of hope. Throughout his life I held my secret, divulging nothing to him, keeping him secure and well balanced. After these events, I taught Chico well, telling him that he need not fear the police, because they were there to help. So thorough were my lessons and reassurance, that today he has no recollection of what had happened.


The boy becomes a man

A few months later, I bought a house in Vereeniging and redecorated it to suit Chico and me. I had had my agency built on the same property and it was approved by the Travel Agents Board. Amanda lived in the house with us and ran the agency well. I trusted her implicitly. I employed and trained a tour coach driver, Joseph, to drive, leaving me free to entertain my passengers and spend time with my son. Joseph was an excellent, reliable driver who learnt every inch of every tour. He knew where to stop for me to point out vegetation, historical and natural sites to the passengers. We were soon only doing tours to South West Africa (Namibia) and the route became a very lucrative one indeed.

I had much to explain to Chico because, by choice, I prepared myself to spend my life raising my son alone. Being self-employed I was in the position to do so, but I became obsessed with his well-being and didnt consider that he was growing up. We were always together and he accompanied me on all my tours. He learnt well and could identify many things of interest. My tour passengers loved him too, and he would

remain quietly in his seat, not bothering anyone. He was a delightful, charming and happy child, unspoilt, obedient and well-mannered. His spontaneity was magnetic and walking beside me in a supermarket, in the street or any other public place, he would sing out, on impulse, Daddy I love you. Although I was strict, I encouraged him to accept himself, never criticising him and never stifling him. However, our secluded environment was having a marked effect on the way he was being raised; there was little contact with any mother figure. I was unintentionally segregating him by preventing any-body else from getting too close. It was only when he started going to school in 1989 that I realised I had been overly protective of him. Although he had little contact with children of his own age, Chico soon made friends and progressed well in the small-town school. It gradually became apparent that he had inherited a great sense of loyalty. It was extreme, but only to a few people at any given time. He selected his friends carefully. If any of his friends ate with an open mouth or swore in front of me, he spontaneously admonished them, saying, Please dont eat like that in front of my dad, or, Don swear in front of my father. He never lost a friend by

showing me that respect. To this day, he still maintains frequent social contact with each and every friend that he made all those years ago. He seldom makes additions to his limited circle of friends, but enjoys an excellent social life with his many acquaintances.

Over the years, Amanda had occasionally made overtures, hoping that she could become a more intimate part of my life, but I could not see her as anything more than a friend and, selfishly, a companion. Since I had met and married Terry, I had never again had any sexual contact with any other person. I have remained celibate since her death, and my life has certainly been less complicated. During January 1990, Amanda cornered me in the lounge. Frankie, she said. We need to talk. Surprised that she looked agitated, I sat down on the sofa and she sat down beside me. She used a tissue, dabbing at the tears running freely down her cheeks. It was indeed rare of her to break down and I had never before seen her cry. Ive been with you for almost 10 years, she said, and youve never given me any indication that I mean

anything to you. You have allowed me to look after Chico, allowed me to cook for you, and paid me a good salary, but Im getting older and have no security and nobody else to love, she finished. Not wanting to face the direction the conversation was heading, I said, Manda, can we talk later? I have to go down to the school. No, Frankie, we talk now or I leave without us talking. She paused and then went on. I have given you my complete loyalty and I have always loved you. It is painful sleeping in the next room thinking about you and Ive wondered if you ever think of me. Can you ever love me, Frankie? The forthright question shocked me. I was, however, forced to admit that I wasnt sure I could get along without her. It was true that she had made great sacrifices for both my son and me, but it made no sense to beat about the bush. I shall never forget how agonising it was to say, Manda, I loved Terry. I never loved anybody before her and I can never love anybody else again. My choice of words had a terrible effect on Amanda. Without histrionics, she said, Frankie, I have to leave then. I will always love you and Chico and Im sorry. Theres just one other thing that I must tell you and I mean it in kindness. After six years, you are still in mourning. You are becoming a lonely old man, raising a lonely little boy.

Amandas words were true, but knowing that I could never fulfil her needs as a woman, I could not bring myself to beg her to stay. After Amanda left, I started caring less for my business, which started a downward spiral. Costs were rising and I was reluctant to increase the price of my tours. In addition, I stopped being able to go on tours because my son was at school and I refused to put him into the hostel. Soon, my business collapsed entirely.

Raising Chico alone was a tremendous pleasure. He was my constant companion and filled the enormous void in my life. We were friends and enjoyed every weekend travelling great distances to game reserves and other places. I worked from home as a travel consultant and therefore had ample time to do the household chores and ensure that Chico lived a secure and normal life. The next ten years passed with incredible speed and our loyalty to each other strengthened continuously. It was apparent that my son was stable and responsible. I however, made no attempt at making any friends with anybody and was happy to be left alone. Raising my son in that way was no sacrifice; contrarily it remained a part of the happiness that I have had since

initially meeting Terry. I neither needed nor wanted anybody else and deftly avoided several not-so-subtle overtures by women who believed that they could fill a niche in my life. There simply was no space between Chico and me for anybody else.

In 2000, when Chico was 18 years old, I sold the house and we moved to Sasolburg, where, excelling at school, he completed his Grade 12 year with good results. He immediately secured an administrative position in a national production company and proved to be a dedicated and reliable employee who soon gained the respect of his management and colleagues. To my delight, Chico had responded well to being flung out of the cycle of abuse that had been so prevalent in my life. He was stable, well adjusted and confident. In August 2008, when he turned 26 years old, Chico asked his long-term girlfriend Riana, an attractive and gentle ecobiologist, to marry him. It was then that I again went to live with Johan, who at 73 years old had maintained contact with me for all the years since we had met. His loyal friendship had proved one of the stabilising influences throughout my life. I had in the meantime made another friend. Living

diagonally across the street from us, was a recently widowed 77-year-old woman, Blanche White. She posed no threat to my reasonably comfortable, reclusive existence, and became an equally loyal friend to Johan. Together, Blanche and I travelled to many parts of the country, visiting scenic sites and even flying to Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. She was a delightful companion although for no reason that I could understand, some of her adult children disapproved of our platonic friendship.

One day recently, Chico and I sat down together and spoke for a long time. For the first time, I told him of my horrific childhood experiences. Once more dissecting my psychological construction, this time with my son, made for a humbling experience. Ive started writing a book, my boy, I said. It will describe much of my life to other people and contains many things which will come as a surprise to you. Looking at me for a moment, he said, Daddy, nothing will surprise me, because nobody knows you as well as I do. Youve always wondered why I stayed alone after your mom died, and you sometimes look at me as if you

blame yourself for it, but it was my choice to do so and the reasons were far beyond just raising you. I believe its time to tell you everything now, I said. I grew up as an abused child, Chico, I said, and I needed to protect you from ever suffering in that way, so I denied you the knowledge of the existence of any surviving family. He replied compassionately, Daddy, Ive never thought about family, but now that Riana and I are getting married, you are going to be alone. I dont really understand, but you dont seem to want to connect with other people. Uncle Johan and Aunt Blanche are your only friends, and apart from me, theyre all you have. Chico put his arm around my shoulder, Daddy, I believe that God entrusted you to raise me alone, giving you the privilege of being able to do with my life as you would. But he also gave me the wonderful privilege of being your son, and I am so grateful to Him and to you. Then I carefully started narrating my past. When I had finished, my son stood up, tearfully put his arms around my shoulders and gently said, One other thing is that God also gave you tremendous courage. Feeling emotional and slightly embarrassed, I went to fetch two cans of Coke. Mercifully, Chico did not follow me and, leaning against the fridge, I allowed myself to cry. When I returned to the lounge, he was facing the

window and wiped both of his cheeks as he turned. Daddy, he said. For my whole life, you have always been there for me. I have never admired anyone as I do you and Ive never been embarrassed to say that I love you. And I love you now, more than ever. He walked to me and, towering a foot above me, folded me in his great arms. We cried together, unashamed. My boy, I said to him, If ever you are in doubt of anything, then think about the tremendous miracle which brought our lives together. The miracle of hope.

Chico had lived free of violence and abuse and became a responsible, caring young man with sound foundations on which to construct a stable family. A feeling of great pride pervaded me as I looked up at the sensitive giant that is my son, and I knew that he had understood our conversation well. I appreciated that we could discuss these things openly, and I was relieved that we had not left it for too long.

After Chico left, I sat on the carpet with my legs stretched

out in front of me. I realised that irrespective of whatever suffering I had experienced, I was indeed one of the most fortunate of all people, because during my lifetime, I had experienced absolute happiness. My wife and my child were the greatest honours that I had been granted and they had fulfilled my life. Having always been a devout Catholic, I thought about Gods purpose in what I had endured. The experiences He had let me live through, equipped me with the knowledge I required to protect my son and then to spread this message in book form.

It is my fervent hope that my history will offer hope to the people who need it. Miracles occur daily in each of our lives. These miracles give us hope and, whatever our religious convictions, hope gives us a reason to wait and see what will happen next.


Telephone: +27 31 563 5718 Cellular telephone +27 83 303 8322 Fax: +27 86 519 2648 Dear Frankie I have now read your book from Cover to cover and am amazed by how honest the book is. I think the book is an invaluable training document for those who work in the field and struggle to understand the extent and nature of sexual and physical assaults on children and the impact of these on their lives both as children and into their adult life as well. I certainly would recommend that Childline Counselors read your book and achieve this understanding. I am not sure if you are aware of the fact that some of our offices run programmes for sexual offenders those who do not go to prison or who are released from prison back into their families and communities. This at the very least enables us to track their contact and interaction with children and at most some do try and change their behaviour we have had many successes in this programme. This has enabled us to understand some of how they operate and how materials like your accounts of abuse may unfortunately be misused in order to fuel their sexual needs. This is my only concern about the book.

I especially liked your description of your experiences at Boys Town and with Father Orsmond. I dont know if you have kept in touch with the facility and its staff but they still remain a marvelous haven for children. Please keep in touch.

Regards Joan

ENDORSEMENT OF THE BOOK FRANKIE Kathleen Bartels / 082 548 9405 / 011 467 8630


Frankie is a shocking first-hand account of the sexual aber-rations of the underbelly of South African society in the 1950s. The book is essential reading for all professionals and care-givers working with vulnerable children. Historically, such professionals have gravely failed these innocent young victims of unspeakable crimes, abuse and molestation. By exposing the sheer horror of child abuse, and the scale on which it occurs, this book can help to bring this silent scourge out into the open, and create a safer world for our children. Thank you for your lovely e-mail. It has been a great pleasure working on your book.

Letting Amanda go must have been quite a blow to all three of you, especially to her, having loved you and your son for a decade, and also having been so instrumental in the success of your business. Overall, the conclusion was great and works well for me. The book taken in its entirety most certainly brings a message of hope to the reader. It highlights the best, and the very worst of people. It is full of unimaginable horrors, but it is also a tale of strength and resilience. The book is both shocking and riveting, and it carries a powerful and important message for people who are in a position to help to stem the scourge of incest and child abuse in society today. I, for one, will not be the same after reading this book, and I think that every police officer, teacher, judge, magistrate, social worker, care-giver, psychologist, social worker, doctor, nurse, pharmacist and professional who works with children and vulnerable families, in any capacity whatsoever, needs to know your story.

All the best Kathleen


Randall, Editor []

I would like to see your book being used in prisons and in sexual offenders rehabilitation programmes. It can be sold to the public too, but its amongst the offenders that it is likely to have the highest impact in terms of changing peoples lives. Have you ever heard of bibliotherapy? This is where therapists /social workers/ teachers etc ask their clients or patients to read specific books books that deal with an area of life where the client is having difficulty. Thus for sexual offenders, this book could be used as bibliotherapy. This wouldnt have to be limited to SA clients there are sexual offenders worldwide. Do SA prisons offer any such rehabilitation programmes? If so, are there prison libraries or chaplains, social workers, therapists etc to whom this book could be sold? Essentially you would be looking for an option whereby it becomes prescribed reading in some settings much like textbooks get prescribed in schools, but in this case it would probably be a prison setting, not a school. Or a non-prison setting with a focus on rehabilitation for offenders. I dont know what programmes exist in SA in this sense. I have a Masters degree in Psychology, with a particular interest in dissociative identity disorder and sexual crimes, with some personal basis (not related to family abuse in my case). So I know what youre saying about the lasting effect on the victim, and the tendency for the

cycles merely to perpetuate themselves over generations. I do think that in this context, your work could be incredibly important and valuable especially in our distressed society.


Your book was deeply disturbing, more so because I have spoken to you and know that it is a live person, a live little boy that this has happened to. Much of the manuscript was familiar to me from what you have read to me before, so it was not such a shock as I had expected it to be. It was still, however, deeply disturbing. I am amazed that you have survived and managed so well with the rest of your life. This manuscript will elicit extremely strong opinions, which will range from one extreme to the other. It is however time to get this out in the open. My impression is that this could be a very topical book in some cultures where the superstition of having sex with a virgin (child) would cure AIDS, is prevalent.