1988, our first year in Cape Town, was new and exciting in many ways, but it was also during that time that Jurie went through a huge ordeal that significantly illustrates the South Africa in which we were living at the time.

For a couple of days we had noticed men hanging around on the corner of our street in Observatory. We reckoned they were possibly watching some of the left-wing radicals who lived a block away from our rented communal house. One evening, while he was studying for a chemistry test, eighteen security cops, armed, and decked out in bullet-proof vests, burst into our house and took Jurie away. Later we learned that he was suspected of being a terrorist and being implicated in several bombs that had gone off in South Africa. Jurie had been at high school and Wits University with the allegedly main perpetrator of the bomb blasts, Hein Grosskopf. Hein had grown up in fairly conservative Afrikaner surroundings in Johannesburg, but had left South Africa to join Umkonto we Siswe (Spear of the Nation), the military wing of the banned African National Congress, and had evaded capture for many years. Apparently the security forces were desperate for an arrest to relieve the mounting pressure upon the Nationalist Government to discover who was responsible for the bombings. The thought of a young Afrikaner switching ranks to join the banned ANC and wreak havoc among his own people was too much for the authorities to tolerate.
Jurie was arrested under what was known as Section 29, which enabled the police to arrest whomever they wished, without any legal representation, for any length of time. Wally and I were in the house at the time of Jurie’s arrest, so at least we knew what was happening. Early the following morning we went downtown to a high security building in Loop Street, where we saw Jurie being lead, in shackles, past a glass partition. The security cops still denied they were holding him.
It took about ten days of heckling in Parliament from the Progressive Federal Party leader, Helen Suzman, to have Jurie released, all the time the government denying any knowledge of a Hans Jurie Moolman. It was only after he had been taken to the notorious John Vorster Square cells up in Johannesburg that the cops released him.
When Jurie came home he was badly shaken by the mental and physical duress of those days, but we tried to put things together and carry on with our lives. It was around this time that we started talking about getting married and determining our relationship for the future. This entailed a significant swing in our mindset: up to then we had been very young and casual about being together.
Not long after this we received a fateful phone call from Jurie’s father, Piet, who was then living and working in San Francisco. During a routine physical check-up the doctors had found a large cancerous tumour; he would be returning to South Africa for chemotherapy and surgery. The year seemed to be getting worse as the months went on.
The rest of that year and most of 1989 was largely spent traveling to and fro between Cape Town and Pretoria, where Piet was being treated. In between his therapy sessions we would meet him up at Gowrie, which was the Moolman’s bushveld farm, for a few days now and then, simply to be in the bush. Just as Piet would begin to show signs of recovery he would have another setback. His suffering ended in June. We felt very vulnerable watching Piet fade away before us, and again began seriously thinking about getting married.
We finally set the date for 7th December 1989 and booked a place at Cape Town’s magistrate’s court. A couple of our closest friends turned up to witness the union. The room where marriages were performed was an entirely unique South African space, complete with a two-seater stinkhout riempie bench (a dark hardwood seat with thin leather strips to sit on) for the bride and groom. The windows were curtained in ornate, woven faux-lace and in the corner there was a delicious monster plant on a curly-twirlie metal stand. We were still giggling when a woman magistrate walked in. To our delight she sported a fairly good crop of hair on her chin!
The actual ceremony was impersonal to the point of Jurie and I being addressed by our identity numbers. The only vaguely moving and personal part came when we were supposed to exchange rings, something for which we had forgotten to provide. Our bearded magistrate lifted her eyes reproachfully to check us out.
The rest of the day was spent with Bingo walking on Signal Hill and Lion’s Head. I think that it was only the next weekend that we made it to a flea market to buy our gold bands. We had a couple of receptions at various locations so as not be overwhelmed by too many extended-family members and friends all at once. The official reception was held on New Year’s Day 1990 at my mother’s townhouse in Pretoria.
The honeymoon had to be the best part of the entire proceedings as we went off to Gowrie with eighteen friends for three weeks in the bush. It was great to be there, as we had had so many wonderful holidays and happy times spent there with Jurie’s father. The dam in front of the camp was as full as it could be. For days we eyed the water and finally decided we had to build a boat of some sort and take a cruise. We found an old fibreglass bathtub in a shed and, after blocking up the plughole with a T-shirt, launched “The Green Mamba” on the dam. Her maiden voyage was fairly successful until she capsized and sank in the deepest water, to reappear only over a year later when the dam started drying out.
I completed and passed my higher diploma, while Jurie progressed through his BSc and Honours years. I did not feel ready to take up a teaching post, the only employment that was really open to me at the time. Instead I opted to start a small cottage industry, printing, and selling fabric and T-shirts at flea markets in and around Cape Town. I had previously taken a short business course, which now stood me in good stead.

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Our African Way