Wednesday 30 September 2020
Myself, Hannes Botha, Ryan Moss and Dave Austen left Malelane in two vehicles heading for Zimbabwe to deliver food parcels for the “Golden oldies” all round Zimbabwe. The plan was to sleep over in Musina at Joe and Hester Joubert’s house and hit the border first thing in the morning. This was not to be as our Agent in Zimbabwe, Robert alerted us of a new Covid-19 rule changes from that were due to take effect the next morning on 1st October 2020. The letter forwarded to us was rules decided on 28 October 2020 and circulated on 30 October 2020 …. We had to cross into Zimbabwe immediately. The new rule was that ALL truck drivers and Assistants was to have a COVID-19 test done before crossing the border, this certificate would be valid for 72 hours. So, we filled up with diesel, bought buns, tomato sauce and Vienna’s to make hot dogs, picked up our paperwork for crossing from Colleen and join que on South African side at 1800. We were about 2 km from the weigh Bridge on the SA Side of Beight Bridge. We waited for Hannes while standing the in que. Hannes arrived and passed us, he called suddenly and asked us to meet him just after the Weigh bridge. One officer looked in the truck and let us pass into the border, first que skipped. We joined the next que about 3 km from the border post. With a bit of sweet talking by Hannes all other ques were expedited, and we managed to stop the truck in the border at the searching facility just before the last check. We then cleared the Freight after a hiccup on the paperwork, a barcode missing, but Coleen made it happen and their runner Samora brought the correct paperwork in no time had passport stamped and we were ready to enter the Zimbabwe side of the border just in time as the SA Customs offices close at 22:00. We departed from the RSA side of the border at 23:00. On the Zimbabwe side of the bridge, you must clear the COVID-19 Caravan before entering the Zim side. They were up to date with the “new” rules and insisted on COVID- 19 test certificates. After threatening to quarantine us, we were let into the border post. Robert (Our Zimbabwe Clearing Agent) arrived, and we weighed the truck, paid our road tax and coupons with gate passes from ZIMRA and then passports were stamped from home affairs. Temporary Import Permit for the vehicles sorted and we were off to the “Dust Bowl” to wait for our Condep Inspection the next day.
Thursday 01 October 2020
We settled into the Dust Bowl in record time at 00.30 and knuckled down for the night and attempt to get some sleep. The Mozzies were unbelievable. There is no sleep while sitting up straight and slapping yourself awake every five minutes. It was a relief seeing the sun come up and being able walk around and stretch our legs now and then while we waited. With the sun came the flies. One can understand the situation as some trucks are stuck there for up to two weeks. There are no facilities for the truckers to bath or any ablution facilities. We see truck drivers brush their teeth in the open and use bottle water that is kept in their trucks. We were prepared for a few days and it dawned on me that we were not ready for a ten day stay over and it was not a calming thought. Robert, our “saint” Agent on the Zimbabwe side arrived at 07:00. He had a couple of words with Hannes and disappeared into border post. Now we wait and only patience will prevail. At 11:00 a ZIMRA official approaches the truck and request us to go into “CONDEP” to be searched. Both vehicles go into the “CONDEP” yard and we wait. Here we see other vehicles that have been off loaded, with the load left on the ground next to the vehicles. It’s obvious that some of these have been there for some time if the layer of dust accumulated on top of everything is anything to go by. Here we are at the mercy of the officers conducting the inspections, if there is anything, they deem to be contraband, you may be in for a long wait or a fine. So, we decide to have a roadside hotdog lunch and wait to be tended to. Robert arrived at 13:50 and we got ready for the inspection. Two Officials arrived, checked paperwork, and had a quick look at our cargo. They were satisfied and we were cleared to leave the searching facility only needing a stamp on out gate pass to enter into Zimbabwe and be off to Bulawayo. At 14:15 we left to have the gate passes stamped. At 16:00 Robert appeared with the stamped pass. And we were good to go!!! A relatively good pass at only 22 hours spent at the border. We arrived in Bulawayo at 20:00, stopped the truck in the Warehouse and were off to Willem and Caroline Nel who put us up. Lots to get done before we could start our trip as there was still a lot of incomplete boxes to pack (Requiring Stock). We had a very necessary shower followed by a hot meal before we were off to bed and a welcome night’s rest after sitting up straight for 37 hours…. A good start and relatively quick border crossing.
Friday 02 October 2020
We were up at 07:00 and off to buy some rice and pasta to complete the last packing. We loaded the UD 90 with the double food parcel boxes and COVID-19 top up PPE goods for everyone. The UD 90 would start delivering in Harare and end in Shurugwe at Muus Lodge. We spent the day preparing to load the second truck due to arrive the next day. Ryan Moss, who joined the Delivery Trip, representing the OLD LEGS TOUR in SA, a group of crazy Ex Rhodie guys cycling from Hillcrest in KZN to Saldana Bay in the Western Cape via the Maluthi Mountain to raise funds for the Pensioners in Zimbabwe. Ryan got some photos, and we have some shoots and interviews in the warehouse where we had an opportunity to show him what we are doing. After loading the UD 90 and finalizing the load for the second truck, we were off to Willems for the night.
Saturday 03 October 2020
We were up a bit later than normal and went off to the warehouse to load Hannes Jovner from Bulawayo’s the truck of. He would be helping with the double box deliveries from Gweru to Chinhoyi. Having learnt from the last double delivery run, and running out of time, Hannes Jovner, a local trucker was approached to assist in the delivery run as it was necessary to have two vehicles for the bulk deliveries. We had a good load and were off to Willem and Caroline’s for a rib braai and a couple of cold ones.
Sunday 04 October 2020
A lazy rest day before the trip starts. We had a late breakkie at Caroline’s and then Hannes and I dropped Dave at Masonic Lodge to visit friends. Ryan did some photo editing and we were off to the warehouse to double check the load and finalise the last of the last. I added some extra Hand Sanitizer and spray bottles and Afrikaans books for folks that wanted. Happy with everything I headed off to the supermarket to buy milk and goods for a salad. At Zonkezizwe Pick& Pay I cannot find ripe tomatoes. So i decide to go to the Fruit and Veg to find they had closed at 13:00. What a sad sight so I know the street venders will have what I need. At Bradfield Centre I found my tomatoes at US$2.00. That shoppie was also closed and I was back off to Pick & Pay. I got some cucumber and start searching for lettuce. After some time i find what looks like it but also not. Not having my wife near and being me, I decide I can make this decision and take the LETUCE. Milk……after a full patrol of all the isles I find the milk. I was sure they knew i was coming and re arranged the Pick & Pay just for my treasure hunt. Happy with my find I head for the till. The cashier greets with friendly voice from behind her mask. My items barcodes are read in and lo and behold….no one knows the item code for my lettuce. So, the poor cashier starts searching for the code in her handwritten little book. She checks the neighbouring cashiers to her rights book nothing to the left … nothing. One could sense the frustration from this poor girl. But this customer wanted that lettuce. Hannes wanted a salad and I
was determined to deliver the tomatoes and lettuce for a salad. Then the cashier on the left pulls out another little black book and gave my cashier the code. After holding up the only 3 cashiers in Pick &Pay at 15:00 on a Sunday afternoon I was on my way with my salad ingredients and milk. I picked Dave up and head home. At home I grabbed my groceries to show off. As I placed it on the counter. Caroline’s daughter, Candice asked me what the Chinese cabbage was for……. So all I had to show off was the beautiful red tomatoes I acquired. After a good dinner we packed our bags and were off to bed for an early morning and the official start of the trip.
Monday 05 October 2020
Up at 04:00 and after Caroline’s puppy, Molly got a fright, woke the whole household and after a last pep talk from the boss we were off to warehouse where Dave took the truck and Ryan and myself were in the Bakkie. We met Hannes Jovner on the Harare road going out of Bulawayo. The convoy was on the road by 05.15. Dave in the ZPSF UD90, Hannes Jovner in his truck and Ryan and I in the ZPSF bakkie. I was leaping forward and stopping while Ryan filmed the convoy during sunrise, looking for that special shot…photographers. We arrived a Boggies Trust in Gweru and offloaded. Babs, Bruce, and most of the residents helping to offload and those who could not were watching. Hannes being an old boy of the neighbourhood knew some folks and he and Dave were chatting away to every one’s delight. The trucks left for huis and I had cuppa with Aunty Ivy. She was finishing off a cake order and was on the way to deliver. She still drives herself around and does all her deliveries herself.
After that we met up with the truck and Mr Vic Kashulla at Huisvergesig. The boxes were offloaded and separated for Vic to deliver. He was telling us about the good fishing he has had lately and reminded me to bring him some bass fishing books. From here the convoy was off to Redcliff. We were met by Carol Fereira and the other residents. We off loaded and had a little chat with Mrs Schaffer who was telling us that our timing was perfect, with stock running low, she was just wondering when we were due to visit again when we arrived. She shared her fears about the COVID-19 and that they are self-isolating in the home and only go out and allow visitors in if needed. One felt the eagerness and joy to see new faces visiting, everyone wanted a minute or two to say a quick thanks. We watched with astonishment how Mr. Wampach load the contents of 2 boxes into his motorcycle load bin. It was a really tight fit, but he made it work. Then it was time to move on and we were off to KweKwe.
Margot Gilby and Ken Connelly with the residents of Lynbrook home received us with open hearts. We offloaded the boxes and Topped up on their PPE’s. We had some juice and a chat under the tree with Ken and he told us about the amount of people still in need in the area, then we were on our way to Kadoma.
Chris Ferreira was waiting for us at Westview Home and we soon had Danie Hartman and others around to help off load. The store that had the empty boxes had a problem with the lock. Del suggested breaking down the door to avoid keeping us waiting. Danie brought some tools and it was opened with minimal damage. This gave me the opportunity and honour to meet Anna Wilcox. What a fine lady she told me about her Husband and how they met during the Second World war. They had a farm in the area that was lost after Independence and she believes that her husband died of a broken heart after losing all they worked for. Ryan did an interview, and we spent some time with her.
Anna Wilcox at Kadoma
It was time to move on and for everyone in the convoy to go their own way. Ryan and I were off to Harare and spent the night at his brother’s house. Dave was off to John Herbst in Harare and Hannes to Sunningdale in Chinhoyi. We arrived in a stormy Harare with dark skies and thunder. We then went to dinner at Ryans sister in laws parents’ house. We walked into a full family gathering, Grandkids and all. What a fantastic bunch of people. Oom Deon en Tannie Martie…Tatenda. It was a pleasure and honour to meet you and your family and be welcomed to you table. Deon welcomed us as guests of honour while we were the gate crashers, these Zimboes are truly welcoming and open-hearted folk. We then drove back to Ryan’s brothers house in rain, catching up on some admin and then crawled in for the night. Thanks for the warm welcome and warm bed.
Tuesday 06 October 2020
I woke early and got a bit more of my admin updated on the cell phone, my office in my pocket. I left Ryan behind to work at his brothers and headed to John and Leonie Hebst’s. I found Dave, John and James had already unpacked the truck and some boxes had already gone. We secured Dave’s load and he was off to refuel and head for Mutare. I fetched Ryan and dropped him at Vic’s (Concrete Structures) where the truck was refuelling. Vic is a donor in Harare for fuel, thanks Vic for your continued support. Vic was telling us that he had a truck that was in an accident and the amount of paperwork and legal drama he had to go through to sort it out, what a nightmare. I saw Dave and Ryan off and went to meet Malcom Taylor next. Malcolm is one of our recipients and a war vet. I spent some time with Macolm and had a cup of tea. A remarkably interesting guy with a lot of good stories to tell. After an overextended visit it was time to collect Leonie from work. We went back to Leonie’s and we waited for people to come fetch their boxes. John’s friend arrived while we were braaiing. He is a medic/police reserve/fireman…and teaches basic first aid to kids. A very community active person. After dinner i was off to bed. What a long day.
Wednesday 07 October 2020
We got up early and distributed to people picking up from John’s house. I left for Bulawayo mid-morning and the road is terrible and being rebuilt. On the sections where the roadworks are busy, a dirt road has been scraped next to the Main road. There was a lot of rain and it was still coming down softly. This was a treacherous section as it was trucks, and all sorts of traffic on the way to Harare from Beight Bridge. I get back to Bulawayo and noted that Hannes Jovner has returned after his trip and the rest of the Bulawayo boxes could be packed for the deliveries. I assisted in the warehouse until Hannes the “Boss” arrives and we were off to do a few deliveries and then to Caroline’s for the night.
Thursday 08 October 2020
Up and at it early. Go to warehouse and started loading Bulawayo Kitchen bulk deliveries with their COVID-19 PPE’s. I got a call from Dave that the truck was acting up and not wanting to start again, he was stuck at Shangani. I called Hannes and arrange that I was to assist by taking a drive to Shangani as we did not have any closer contact to help Dave. I had to first offload what was on the bakkie. I offloaded at Queen Mary first. Most people were not in. I handed over everything to Ann in her office. She informed me that Mr Human had moved to Harare. Then we it was onto Ralstein next door. We had a quick chat with some of the folks there, it breaks your heart. Ralstein Home is a branch of the Salvation Army need I say more. The Major is out to a funeral and we meet the temp Major. Dave calls and inform us he got assistance from fellow passing on a tractor and was on his way to Bulawayo. The guys in Ralstein are worried about the Corona but are still moving around. Angela and I are then off to Barbara Burrell Home for the Blind and got to see the folks during teatime. A thunderstorm broke while there and so we joined in for tea and a chat.
Once the rain stopped, we were off to the warehouse to load more boxes. We delivered to Bulawayo Help Network, Rob Lowmax, Rob Hartman and Mrs. Jill Battis. Mrs. Battis, an old schoolteacher is still assisting kids with private lessons at the age of 94. After her visit we called it a day and took some down time.
Friday 09 October 2020
Up early and off to the warehouse. Warehouse was flooded again after the heavy rain. The caretaker will knock a hole in the wall for the water to get out. We pack for the last deliveries and wait for some that collect from the warehouse. I help Dave start up at 12:00 and get his Covid-19 test result at the Lancet Office. Prep Robert for the trucks arrival at the border. We get reports of 9 km ques to contend with. Hope all goes well for him. On with the current job. Pickup and deliver to Esigodini, to the Kingshaven MOTHS.
Saturday 10 October 2020
Linda at HQ Malelane let us know Dave back in Malelane safely. We get to assist with the building of a vegetable garden.
Sunday 11 October 2020
Rest day. We returned PJ’s bakkie to him and once again thanked him for the use of the extra wheels. Getting change at garage after re-fuelling is a strife. This is the most frustrating part of the trip so far. No one is willing to part with any USD change. To give an example, when re-fuelling the attendant convinced us to put the excess fuel that made up the equivalent of the change into Willem’s vehicle instead of giving change. The argument is a simple, “We do not have that change, but we can put the change into Willem vehicle instead of giving change.” After dropping PJ’s vehicle, we had some home-made pizza at Caroline’s. Cold and miserable weather for this time of the year in Zim, but we are all really grateful for the rain. This country desperately needs a surplus of water at this stage.
Monday 12 October 2020
Alarm wake me early…last weeks early up and at it alarm. I can hear the wind howling
and it is Cold and wet outside. Proper winter weather. I sit in bed and make notes on my cell phone for later reports. Hannes and I go get our samples taken for the COVID 19 test. There were about 20 people in the facility. The wait is long, but the actual sample is taken in 30 seconds. You first must fill in some forms, pay a fee of USD$60.00 and then wait your turn. Once in the tent the guy that take the sample is dressed in a white HAZMAT suit, he puts on new disposable cloves and opens a new sample pack and attaches stickers onto all the relevant paperwork and bottles. Then he asks you to blow your nose, tilt you r head back and he inserts a long ear bud into your nose. He then removes it, and you get a tissue to blow again and that is it. All done. Painless and quick. “Thank you, sir, you can get your results from the Lancet office tomorrow. NEXT.” That was not as bad as expected. One hears all the scary stories on the “interweb”… not true. Now we had to wait for a result and then off to SA. The clock started ticking and we had 72 hours to leave the country. We go to the warehouse and do a stock take to check what is needed for the last trip of the year, the pending Christmas Trip. Angela and team are already cleaning up and preparing to close. We put out the last boxes that must be delivered on the route to the Border. We will load that after the COVID test results are out. Last night at Carolines and we see the cake she has been working on the last 2 days for Linda’s birthday. A magnificent “Beetle Car” death by chocolate cake.
Tuesday 13 October 2020
The day of reckoning and we get to see if we have COVID-19 or not. The dreaded disease that could quarantine you in who knows where in who knows what conditions for who knows how long. A scary prospect to consider while in Zimbabwe. First things first. We have a few last minute errands to do and then we get the results from the COVID-19 tests and were both good to go. We go to the warehouse to lock up and Hannes drops me at Caroline’s while he drops Angela at her place. Last night before going home.
Wednesday 14 October 2020
Up early and off to the border at 05:30. First stop is at West Nickolson and drop boxes for Pat Hales and Mrs Odendaal. Luckily, Pat is at the Bridge shop next to the railway and collects all the boxes. Then off to see Anna Pell in Gwanda on the farm. She is in good spirits and informs us that she has been laid off and has now officially no income. She stays in the farmhouse for free and had water, there is no electricity and gets two litres of milk now and then. It seems that she does not want to leave the farm but might not have a choice. We will always be there for you Anna; your late husband is the reason we have the UD 90 truck and we are in your debt. After a cuppa and a visit were off to Beight Bridge and the unknown. Thanks to Robert the border crossing went smoothly and we were in the RSA side and on the road towards Malelane in about 2 hours. Well done all.
PS: a special thanks from me to:
Hannes Botha, the Boss you are an inspiration and I learn from you constantly. Your generosity has no limit.
Linda Schultz in HQ, always there with a solution from afar. Your crystal ball is tuned to predict the unforeseen and prepare us all mentally before the fan is switched on and anybody can hurl stuff at it.
Dave Austen, we can always rely on you to deliver to the boxes far and wide.
Hannes Jovner for assisting in the deliveries, a pleasure to meet you, a rare gentleman.
Angela and her warehouse team in Bulawayo always a step ahead, well done.
John and Leonie Hebst in Harare for assisting in the Harare and surrounds deliveries and having a warm meal and bed for us.
Des and Sally Becker in Mutare, still after all these years just as reliable as always, a home faaaar from home. Luv you guys.
Willem and Caroline Nel in Bulawayo, your home has become our home and the warmness and care we get from you guys are greatly appreciated. Dankie.
All the Care takers, Administrators, Chair Persons, Staff and Medical personnel taking care of our Golden Oldies, Thanks. You are special.
Most important the Donors. Without your donations and open hearts none of this would be possible. Thank you ALL for assisting us make this happen.
We pray our Lord’s Blessings for you all….
Head office South Africa contact details:
Linda Schultz – firstname.lastname@example.org – (C) 079 6082676 (T) 013 7900934
Johan Schultz – email@example.com – 082 4979328
Hannes Botha – firstname.lastname@example.org – 084 5893221
Section 21 Co Reg. 2007/034036/08; NPO Number 096733; Section 18A PBO No 930031642