Port Elizabeth of Yore: 1888 – Another Disastrous Storm

The Rocket Brigade in Action

During the age of sail vicious storms were always potentially disastrous for ships as the fierce gusting winds could drive ships onto the coast fatally wrecking them. In the case of Algoa Bay, it was renowned for treacherous south-easters during the latter half of the year. To assist in the rescue operations, the local regiment, Prince Alfred’s Guards, established a separate unit known as the Rocket Brigade.

This blog deals with the rescue operations during this unprecedented storm

Main picture:  The PAG’s Rocket Brigade in action during the 1888 gale

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Robert Pinchin

Robert Pinchin should be remembered for his contribution to the development of Port Elizabeth and the water supply in particular. In 1862 he wrote a treatise advocating the Van Stadens Water Scheme. It was only after more than a decade of prevarication that the Town Council acted upon his recommendation. Ironically what he is remembered for is his ascent of the Cockscomb peak in April 1870.

Main picture: Baakens Street. 1862. The house centre right is on the land granted on 1 Oct 1821 to D.A.C.G. John Craig. At the end of 1826 he sold the land with a stone house. The house became the property of Capt. John Burton, then his widow Mary, who married Thomas Henry Martyn. Mary Ann Burton then married Robert Pinchin, and after her death he and their daughter lived here with his mother-in-law – hence Pinchin Lane. It was sold to Mangold Bros. in July 1879 for their foundry, and they demolished it in 1882 for stores.

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A SMAC in the Face #35:  Crime Scene

When the 87-year-old internationally acclaimed Ndebele artist, Dr Esther Mahlangu, was attacked and robbed earlier this year, @kgadi_ZA tweeted that South Africa is a crime scene.  When the horrendous crime stats for the first three months of the year were reported this week, DA MP, Andrew Whitfield, also used that description.  I can’t agree more except to note that it is an active and evolving crime scene with little chance of resolution.

South Africa has lost its world status in most activities except for violent crimes.  We are right there with the best of the worst.  Excluding small Caribbean islands, Wikipedia puts us at 7th.  You are about 6 times mores likely to be murdered than in the US and about 20 times more likely than in Europe.  Outside of warzones, South Africa is an exceptionally dangerous place to live.  The total personal contact crimes for 2019/20 which, given the violent nature of SA, can be life changing is 621 262 or more than one incident per 100 people.  Since most times more than one victim is involved in, say, a house breaking or hijacking, the number of people affected is probably more than 1 in 50.  Its amazing that our society still functions.  With a few years of stats like these, just about everyone should be booked off work for PTSD.  

But the stats don’t reveal the associated level of violence and depravity.  In the mid-80s, I got a teaser of this new phenomenon, at least in white areas.  My wife and I were strolling through a parking lot in Sandton when we were set upon by four thugs.  One went for my wife and three laid into me trying to relieve me of cash and some superfluous red blood cells.  One rudely stabbed me before he even asked permission while another was waiting to get a clear shot at my neck with a sword.  The third, right in front of me could have had a gun as we later found out, but I was too busy worrying about the sword and running through my mind Monty Pythonesque images of lopped-off limbs and heads and fending off repeated knife attacks.  They were part of a large gang who terrorised Joburg for about three weeks.  When they were finally rounded up, they were charged with two or three murders, about 20 attempted murders and more than 50 cases of aggravated assault.  Today we routinely have criminal gangs of 10 to 20 armed with assault rifles that disdainfully treat cash-in-transit vehicles as their personal ATMs.  Or the farm murders where people are tied up and tortured before being killed. 

Then we have rape.  Take the October 2015 case where two couples were having an evening stroll in Rhodes Park, Joburg.  Their lives were shattered when they were accosted by a gang of 12 men.  One of the women was raped and the men tied up and tossed into the lake to drown.  What about an incident in April where a 15-year-old girl was raped and her eyes gouged out!  When it comes to rape in South Africa, it’s often not about power as some sociologist try excuse.  There’s an element of barbarity where no female from baby to 85-year-old gogo is excluded as prey.  I could accept it if these were isolated incidents, but they’re not.  Excuse me for being well adjusted, but I cannot begin to comprehend that depravity.

A SMAC in the Face #33: An Erection for a Dysfunctional Country

What do you do in a dysfunctional country with a flagging economy that has failed to shoot the lights out (or maybe it did just that)?  You have run out of things to do like boxes to tick and stupid policy and name changes, so you propose a simple-to-execute pointless project that doesn’t involve difficult issues.  As a bonus, you might get a legacy out of it and Nathi Mthethwa needs one.  After all, it was under his watch as Minister of Police that the 2012 Marikana Massacre occurred.   Having cocked that one up, he was demoted to Minister of Arts and Culture in 2014.  As usual, he is hardly qualified for the post by any creative stretch of the imagination given that he holds a Diploma in Community Development, a Certificate in Mining Engineering and a Certificate in Communications and Leadership – in other words, he doesn’t know his arts from his elbow.

This Ministry is one of the slag heaps where they dump senior ANC politicians that they don’t know what to do with.  After all in March 2010, a wholly unsuitable Arts and Culture Minister, one Lulu Xingwana, stormed out of an art exhibition that she was due to open.   She objected to pictures of naked women embracing intimately, but not even so much as a nipple, erect or otherwise, was showing.  She stated afterwards that “It was immoral, offensive and going against nation-building.”  I suppose it would have been OK if they had been photos of African beadwork on naked-breasted, bare-footed virgins that don’t need Brazilian butt lifts – the ones that Zuma finds attractive. 

The Sports Ministry was added in 2019 in an effort by Ramaphosa to streamline the cabinet.  Again, like his predecessor, Fickle Mbalula, Nathi is hardly qualified in this area.  This coxless pair couldn’t kick a ball between them.  The fact that our soccer team cannot even beat minnow countries in the midst of a revolution (Equatorial Guinea), it is highly unlikely to help endow your legacy.  That the Springboks lifted the Rugby World Cup for the third time in 2019 and that our swimmers have umpteen Olympic golds between them is meaningless – it’s got to be soccer and Caster Semenya.

What to do?

Ah, a moersa flagpole.  Nation building and a legacy for only R22million – cheap at the price. Psst!  Don’t tell him that Gqeberha (PE for the unliberated) already has a 68m one and I haven’t seen that contribute to nation building there.

Psst2 ! Flags don’t last long – they tend to flagellate themselves to death in about a year which becomes quite an expensive exercise given the required size of the flag.  The Hearld reports that PE’s flag costs R200,000 p.a.  Also it has to be raised every morning and lowered before sunrise and I’m sure that there are strict ceremonial requirements.  If the wind gets up, then it must be replaced by a storm flag.  If Gqeberha is any indication, the display of the flag will be highly random.

Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Settler Family called Damant

Most settler parties conformed to the rules of the Emigration Scheme that they would be settled in the frontier districts. Having been stationed at Fort Frederick for seven years prior to the arrival of the 1820 Settlers, Captain Damant had already decided that the Gamtoos valley area would be the new family home.

This is the saga of the Damant family of Hankey

Main picture: A farm in the Gamtoos Valley

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A SMAC in the Face #26:  Putinocchio

Victory in war has many fathers but defeat is an orphan, is a truism of war.  I wonder which of Putin’s Generals will see out the year, or Putin for that matter.  Another truism is that the first casualty of war is the truth.  That saying has been attributed to a variety of people ranging from Aeschylus around 550 BC – “God is not averse to deceit in a just cause” – through the more verbose Dr Samuel Johnson in 1758 – “Among the calamities of War may be justly numbered the diminution of the love of truth …” –   to many others who got close to the modern cliché.

In the case of Russia’s attack on Ukraine the distortions of truth, the unashamed peddling of falsehoods and the ridiculous inversion of facts started long before the boundaries were actually crossed.  In fact, they started before when Russia actively assisted Ukrainian separatists annex two regions in the east of Ukraine.  Not all the whoppers in the cartoon are his, but, since he is the puppet master, they can all be attributed to him.  It’s like classical paintings where experts find it difficult to distinguish between, say, a Rembrandt and one from the school of Rembrandt.

Whilst not the spittle-flecked rants of Hitler, anyone who has seen his rambling TV diatribes connecting dots from all over the place must wonder about his state of mind – no wonder Zuma and him are mates.  Perhaps they are not cynically constructed lies but merely the product of years of KGB-trained delusions and old-school Soviet paranoia writ large. 

The Putin created or orchestrated sea of lies seems to be largely successful within Russia with the population being force-fed this diet in the state-controlled media and regulated internet access.  Behind the scenes, the sea of lies, which was part of the DNA of the old Soviet Union to ensure survival of the nomenklatura, created the delusion for Putin that the army could walk through Ukraine in days and wrap it up before the West got all precious about it.  That didn’t work out so well and now the lies concern the extent of the military losses as the wily Ukranians have picked off Russia’s inept army – death by a thousand cuts.  They are now desperately scrambling around to secure their few territorial gains and securing the odd cow shed before possibly claiming victory on the holiest of days, 9 May – the day Germany surrendered in WWII.   Actually, they had surrendered to Eisenhower the day before but Russia did not recognise that so it had to be re-enacted.

More worrying is that parttime stage-extras like South Africa are genuflecting to Russia by ignoring the facts and perpetuating the deceptions.  Even more worrying is that the dictatorial China, the world’s dominant country in a decade or so, is just one small step short of actively siding with Putin and is parroting the notion that America caused it all.  According to the hoary old communist playbook, it’s all about America trying to establish hegemony over the world.  In the years of the Cold War, it was by means of the arms race, star wars and propping up tinpot dictatorships.  Today, it’s Apple, Twitter, KUWTK and McDonalds (they have a lot to answer for).

Maybe the answer is simpler – he needs the big whoppers to make up for his small size.

Corruption & Bang for one’s Buck

The photo above shows what type of stadium a DA run municipality versus an ANC run municipality could erect at approximately the same cost. On the left is a R13m stadium provided by the Saldanha Municipality whereas on the right is what the ANC run municipality of Enoch Mgijima was able to construct with R15m. At a guess, the ANC stadium actually cost less than a tenth of the R15m and maybe even as low as a hundredth.

  • Do they have no shame?
  • Has anybody been prosecuted?
  • Has any of the money been recovered?
  • Has anybody been dismissed?

Probably NO on all four counts

Port Elizabeth of Yore: The State of Medical Services – The First Provincial Hospital

By the 1850s, there was heightened concern about the lack of a hospital in Port Elizabeth. Discussions amongst the town’s folk increasingly revolved around this requirement. Whenever citizens congregated, it was a topic of discussion. Even though the population had risen by 1855 to about 3,500 and disease and sickness was increasing, Port Elizabeth still did not have a hospital. Plans for a hospital were discussed over several years.

It was not until Act 5 of 1856 established the Port Elizabeth Provincial Hospital that planning for a hospital could commence. As an interim measure, a house in Rodney Street was hired to serve as a hospital. This was opened on the 10th September 1856 with Dunsterville and Rubidge serving as doctors.

Main picture: Entrance to the Richmond Hill provincial hospital in 1856

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ANC pushed victimhood again

In the 27 years of ANC misrule where they have comprehensively failed to achieve a meaningful improvement to the majority of Black people, the ANC resorts to victimhood and propagates tropes to justify themselves.  The rapid development of vaccines for Covid and its unequal distribution was a ready-made crisis for the ANC to exploit in order to deflect attention from their appalling handling of it.

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