Bits and Bobs of Rehab in Good Ol’ Gauteng: A Story as Told by Uncle Joe van Zyl

Date: 10 February 2024

Early morning, sun barely awake – Joe van Zyl, a septuagenarian legend of sorts in the snaking corridors of our quaint drug rehab in Gauteng – begins his routine. His words, much akin to a drawn out yawn, drape over the never quite clean enough coffee table.

“You see, my boy,” he divulges, almost whispering, his words edging towards an unseen precipice of truth or fiction. “It’s much like the war, finding yourself in a place such as this.”

How fitting, Uncle Joe comparing his battle with the bottle to his days spent warring with Swapo rebels. You chuckled, right? Yea, I was there.

One could posit that alcohol rehab and a full-blown insurgency have only the slimmest of metaphorical threads bracing them together, however, as one patient bravely once whispered to me, “Joe’s a bit tapped, but he’s our touchstone.”

Uncle Joe’s shared pieces of his life become our placeholders in this rehabilitation refuge. Whether it’s the time he supposedly (Note the liberal use of adverbs!) single-handedly stormed an enemy bunker and survived a grenade blast, forever surrendering his left ear’s hearing, or his fiercely contested claims of once training a flock of hadedas as an advance warning system against enemy incursions.

From his narrative, you’d be forgiven for believing the ol’ chap was the very incarnation of Hemingway and Indiana Jones’ lovechild. He was our unreliable narrator, his tall tales embedded with meanings as elusive as the famed Ark and as complex as understanding why we’re addicted in the first place.

Uncle Joe, in his own unique, often unnerving manner, helped us laugh at our addictive demons. And isn’t laughter the best medicine? Mmm… now there’s a thought for all those capitalist-minded rehab centers swimming in the mental health pool over in Johannesburg and surrounding areas.

As his stories multiplied, they began to develop their own unique sheen – like old, well-worn copper coins, minted in a forgotten era. He became the embodiment of repetition, retelling stories like an overeager child skipping along to a familiar tune. Everyone started to chant, “There goes ol’ Uncle Joe, off on another one of his adventures.”

No doubt, some, especially the newbies, found his eccentricities disconcerting. His steely gaze, sitting in the pit of his scar-carved face, occasionally deep in whispered conversation with his ghosts, could shake nerves. But fear not, dear reader. “Uncle Joe’s harmless,” I whisper, breaking the fourth wall in hushed complicity.

Truth be told, Uncle Joe’s rehab war stories fizzed a dollop of humor, a smidgen of wisdom, and a healthy shot of perspective into the sombre cocktail of our recovery journey.

As a society, we might have failed him, relegated him the status of damaged goods, but much like the intricate leatherwork of a well-thumbed book, his intricate and impactful tales have become the bedrock of our collective strength.

Would a more streamlined, business-minded rehab center in Gauteng trade Uncle Joe van Zyl for statistical success stories? Perhaps. But then again, how does one measure the invaluable healing power of laughter, a sense of camaraderie, and the nurturing bond of an unnamed community of survivors?

Welcome to rehab in the heart of Gauteng, where the walls echo with dubious war stories, the corners hide laughter-marked shared histories, and the journey to recovery strides along an unexpected tangent– the path of good old storytelling.


Uncle Joe van Zyl’s riveting narratives bring a unique blend of humor and wisdom to the recovery process at our genuine Gauteng rehab center. Tucked away in a serene corner of the province, near the urban bustle of Johannesburg yet close to the calming neighborhoods of Benoni, Boksburg, Kempton Park, and Edenvale, our facility provides more than just treatment—it offers community. Unlike a center driven solely by cold statistics, we cherish the healing power of stories, laughter, and camaraderie, valuing each individual’s role in nurturing the spirit of collective healing. Our approach is personal, our environment supportive, and our methods tried and true. For those ready to engage in a transformative journey away from addiction, within a setting that appreciates the enriching tales of figures like Uncle Joe, we welcome you. Get in touch via WhatsApp, email, or call +27798378484 or +27828863996. Join us where memories are made and new life stories begin. Let’s walk the path of recovery together, finding strength in every shared story and success in every step forward.


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