Mr Kentridge said an epileptic could fall this way during a fit. Or someone who had been knocked unconscious might also fall in this way. What he found more difficult to believe was that a conscious man falling to the ground could sustain such an injury.
– from Biko by Donald Woods


I can well imagine
the chain of welts across the tongue
and fleshy inside cheek,

his dislocated jaw,
punch-drunk stare,
the prisoner’s naked body

lying there where he has fallen.
Still to be accounted for.

Two days before Christmas,
his mind on other things,
the district surgeon toes the dotted line,

scribbles down a small, bad thing.
S. Marule, December 23, 1986,
death by epileptic fit.


Reading now all the other jokes;
the falls down stairwells,
off Black Marias, the slips on soap,

official reasons given
for death without trial in Afrikaner prisons,
I sense, up close,

a darkness thumping,
a fear of crowds
of flashing lights I can’t shake off,

and hear
their barking, belly-jerking laughter when,
tickled-pink by the thought,

they stood and watched
a black man’s mouth
foaming white, white froth.