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Friday, December 8, 2023

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A punch-up in the car park and a baby called Frenoleen

Frenoleen Court, better known as Kawasaki Corner back in 1981.

Frenoleen Court, better known as Kawasaki Corner back in 1981.

Published Jul 8, 2023


Durban - The old picture this week features the strangely named block of flats Frenoleen Court at 551 Mahatma Gandhi Road, then Point Road.

For many years the building on the corner of Point Road and Smith (now Anton Lembede) Road was simply known as Kawasaki Corner. The old picture is looking down Point Road, and the Tong Lok building on the opposite side of Point Road is clearly visible. Today that building is derelict and one of the city’s problem buildings.

The picture appeared in the Tribune on December 20, 1981. The caption simply reads: “Frenoleen, the 14-storey residential apartment block sold this week.”

Frenoleen Court, better known as Kawasaki Corner back in 1981.
Frenoleen Court on the corner of Anton Lembede Street and Mahatma Gandhi Road. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad African News Agency (ANA)

It would seem the block was built in 1963. On the Facebook page Durban Down Memory Lane, Daryl Crofton remembers moving in that year while they were still completing the floors above.

Many remember growing up in the Point area fondly. The block was apparently run by a caretaker, a Mrs Merber, who ruled with an iron fist. “Back in those days your flat was serviced every other day, windows cleaned twice a week… the outside passages were polished on a regular basis and the rubbish was removed every week,” writes Graham Williams.

Others speculated on the name, with some saying it sounded like a detergent, and others that it reminded them of crimplene.

One remembers a remarkable story of a woman giving birth in the block in 1972. “As a youngster, I witnessed a lady giving birth in the foyer of Frenoleen, the baby’s name was Frenoleen, not sure if anyone else was there?”

Another remembers an incident at Kawasaki Corner: “It was also a petrol station with a huge car showroom. My older brother and I came home one night on my 21st birthday and we got into a fight. It started in one of the lifts inside the block, but we somehow ended up outside on the pavement and then the next thing I knew we were in the garage with about 20 people watching us punching the crap out of each other, then crash, boom, bang!… my brother punched me and I went flying through one of those huge glass panes and into the showroom.

“Needless to say my brother pulled me out and we ran like hell back home, but were caught about an hour later. What great memories.”

The block is still standing today, although maintenance would probably not pass muster with Mrs Merber, as our photographer Shelley Kjonstad’s picture shows.

The Independent on Saturday

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