Whether or not Ramsamy overdid his attacks on her, the fact is that Budd consistently refused to reject, disclaim or even gently criticize apartheid. At one point Momberg tried to get her to make this statement: "I, Zola Budd, hereby declare my total objection to any form of discrimination, be it race, religion or language." She refused, telling Momberg—as she had many times before—that her politics were private. Ramsamy later told Momberg that had Budd put her name to that single sentence, the antiapartheid pressure on her would likely have lifted.
Even now, her rationale for remaining silent is defiantly defensive and completely misses the crucial point that apartheid is one of the great social crimes of the 20th century. Staying silent is, in effect, being an accessory to that crime. However, in her book Budd wrote, "My attitude is that, as a sportswoman, I should have the right to pursue my chosen discipline in peace.... Seb Coe does not get asked to denounce Soviet expansionism; and Carl Lewis is not required to express his view on the Contra arms scandal. But I was not afforded that courtesy and it became a matter of principle for me not to give those who were intent on discrediting me the satisfaction of hearing me say what they most wanted to hear."
So, of course, antiapartheid activists continued to protest Budd's participation in just about every race she entered. All of this took a toll on Budd, who had just turned 20. She spent wakeful nights wandering around her house in Guildford, hugging a pillow and periodically bursting into long spells of weeping. She was also suffering from an injury in her right hip, caused by a difference in the lengths of her legs. This ultimately resulted in a stress fracture where the hamstring joins the pelvis, and the throbbing pain kept her awake even more than before. She tried several different doctors in several different countries. Then, in May 1987 in Johannesburg, she met a kinesiologist named Ronald Holder. He not only cured her but became a friend.
Holder's technique for treating Budd's injury involved placing wedges made from cut-up telephone-book pages in her shoes. Bizarre though they sound, the phone-book supports allowed Budd to run without pain in a fairly short time, and today she has no trouble at all. She still runs barefoot—as she once did almost all the time—in a few races, but she must wear shoes containing Holder's wedges when training and for all competitions of more than 3,000 meters, though she would rather go barefoot. "I feel lighter on my feet without shoes," she says. "I have always walked barefoot in Bloemfontein, even shopping. That was one more thing I disliked about Britain: They laughed and pointed at me when I went barefoot into the shops."
She kept going back and forth between well-shod England and barefoot Bloemfontein in 1986, '87 and into '88, and her life was as unhappy as it was unsettled. "The political atmosphere affected my racing terribly," she says. "I felt I had to win a political war before I could win a race." Yet she kept running—and, very often, winning. In 1988, Budd was planning to compete for Britain in the world cross-country championships in New Zealand in April, despite threats of a boycott by black African nations and others. Thanks to Holder's wedges, she was by then running without pain and had high hopes, not only for the New Zealand event but also for the 3,000 meters at the Seoul Olympics the following September. Then, on April 16, the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) crushed those hopes by recommending that she be suspended for 12 months by the British Amateur Athletic Board (BAAB) from all sanctioned competitions. The grounds for the suspension: During a visit to South Africa the previous year, Budd had, according to the IAAF, breached the spirit of the rules by merely appearing at—though not competing in—road races in her homeland. Zola called the IAAF's action "a witchhunt," and in a way she was probably right. The IAAF had been under increasing anti-Budd pressure from African and other Third World countries, and it was eager to resolve the situation, particularly with the Olympics coming up. The BAAB refused to accept the IAAF verdict and insisted on further investigation of her "spirit-breaching" violation. But before such an investigation could be completed, Budd broke under the strain.
Once again, she fled to Bloemfontein. A doctor who examined her in London before she left described her as "a pitiful sight, prone to bouts of crying and deep depressions...[with] all the clinical signs of anxiety." She told the press back home, "I have been made to feel like a criminal. I have been continuously hounded, and I can't take it anymore."
Now the recuperation began. Frank and Tossie had finally divorced in 1986. Her father had moved to an isolated stone farmhouse in the hills outside town, but her mother was in the old homestead. Without the domestic battles to preoccupy her, Tossie gave Zola great support. But the best medicine in her recovery proved to be a big, gentle bear of a man, Michael Pieterse, then 26, the good-natured son of a wealthy Bloemfontein businessman and the co-owner of a local liquor store. Zola had met him a couple of years earlier, and they began seeing each other soon after her return—secretly, in order to avoid being skewered by the sharp tongues of Bloemfontein's busy gossips. They grew closer and closer until Budd, ever insecure, began to worry that perhaps she was falling in love while Pieterse was not. Thus one day in August '88, she said, "Listen, Mike.... I have got to have a commitment from you." Whereupon they bought an engagement ring and set a wedding date of April 15, 1989.
It was an intimate wedding, happy in every way—except that Frank Budd had done his best to spoil it. He and Zola had had almost no contact since the 1984 Olympics. She had tried to patch things up once by bringing him a gift from Los Angeles, but he refused to accept it. Nevertheless, she had him on the guest list for the wedding, though she had no intention of having him give her away. Before the invitations went out, Zola asked her brother Quintus to stand in for Frank. When Frank heard about it, he was furious. He told Quintus that he would disinherit him if he gave Zola away. Frank's name was promptly crossed off the invitation list, and Mike's father was enlisted to escort her down the aisle. Later, when a reporter asked Frank about the wedding, he snarled, "I no longer have a daughter called Zola."
At the time, though Zola and the rest of the Budds didn't know it, Frank was undergoing chemotherapy for cancer of the liver and the spleen. However, he did not die of cancer. One day in early October 1989 his blood-spattered body was found sprawled across his bed by Quintus, who had gone to the stone farmhouse to investigate reports that his father was missing. Frank's pickup truck and his checkbook were gone. He had been shot twice with his own shotgun. The next day a 24-year-old Afrikaner named Christian Johannes Botha Barnard, who had sometimes worked for Frank, was arrested. At his trial, Barnard said that on the night of Sept. 30, Frank had insulted Barnard's girlfriend and made "a sexual approach" to Barnard, and Barnard had shot him. Barnard was convicted of murder and theft, but the judge sentenced him to only 12 years in prison because of "extenuating circumstances."
Frank's will stated specifically that Zola was not to be allowed to attend his funeral and that she was not to be buried in the family cemetery plot. She is philosophical these days about her relationship with the strange, volatile man who was her father: "We had no contact before his death. I would have liked to have a reconciliation. I would have liked to remind him that I had once loved him. There was no chance, and that was quite terrible for all of us. But he gave me no choice."