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My updated itinerary for Namibia and Botswana, to the end of the tour.
The PROPOSAL TO THE PRESIDENT for your perusal.
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So this morning, Monday the 24th May, I woke another year older, the weather blessed me with yet another beautiful day in Africa for my birthday, wow and the big one at that. There are not too many people who get to celebrate the year they were born in with the same number of years they have lived, as in I was born in 1955 and today I turned 55 years old, neat hey.
So after breakfast and a chat with Peter and Norma Barclay before they headed out on their merry way (See the photo of them in my last blog), I headed for the Beares store where due to the fact that ‘the larnies’ as in Willie Steyn the Operations Executive for Namibia and the Regional Manager Boete losper were putting the staff through their paces, things were somewhat hectic. So after meeting everyone and a brief chat about the project I got out of their way and headed for the police station and department of gender equality and Child welfare.
The main street of Katima Mulilo taken from the same point in front of the Beares store in opposite directions
Unfortunately once again I was unsuccessful in securing a meeting with any one of any significance in the police force, due to the fact that I “did not have the necessary letter of authority from the chief of police to discuss ‘this sensitive matter’. I did however meet a really friendly cop as I was leaving the police station that was standing outside admiring Buddy who spoke to me briefly about the situation in Katima Mulilo and Namibia in general. So Buddy came to my rescue once again by doing his job and attracting the attention of the people I want to talk to, so Buddy has convinced me that he was definitely a good choice as my mode of transport.
The discussion I had with this friendly policeman mainly confirmed the information I have already been given by the police who were brave enough to talk to me in Swakopmund and one or two other areas as well as the social worker in Grootfontein, and that is that the justice system appears to be going backwards by following the route South Africa has taken in implementing the rehabilitation system, providing counselling to child rapists but not to the victims, releasing convicted felons long before their sentence has been completed, releasing suspects on bail resulting in a very low conviction rate, cases taking anything up to four and five years to get to trial, and I could go on for ages.
After my chat I hunted down the residence of the infamous Doug Wegener who apart from numerous other business’s in town, owns a camping resort which is situated about 30 kilometres out of town on the Ngoma road called Kalambeza. While I was in Port St Johns, the owners of the lodge I had stayed in, John and Sherol ‘Ferrari’ Ferreira (Mountain View Inn) had told me about Doug and had contacted him to make arrangements for me to camp at Kalambeza when I arrived in Katima Mulilo. Unfortunately his resort was wiped out in the recent floods and so I could not take him up on his kind offer of a campsite for my stay in Katima Mulilo.
I found Dougs ‘town house’ and ended up spending the afternoon with him and his friend Henk Coetzer who also happens to be the father of Marcel Coetzer – the General Manager of the Protea Hotel- who had so kindly assisted me by providing me with accommodation in a luxury room on my arrival in Katima Mulilo and then three nights camping. While helping Doug reduce his stocks of Tafel Lager, we were joined by another friend of Doug’s, Harry. While reducing Doug’s beer stocks at a pace, arrangements were made to visit Doug’s resort so that I could hopefully catch that elusive monster Tiger Fish and he could ascertain the extent of the damage caused by the floods. So after a good evening, I retired to bed and dreamt of that monster Tiger Fish.
Because of the damage done to the gravel road section to the Kalabeza resort, Doug decided that we should rather load the ‘goodies’, as in Fishing rods, tackle, meat for the braai, braai wood and of course not to forget the beers and ice, into his lovely 18 foot boat and do the trip by river, of course this was a bonus for me because I got to see the countryside from the river.
The damage to the resort is humungous, and I my heart really went out to Doug for having to have sustained this amount of damage to his lovely resort for two years in a row. Last year the river rose even higher than it did this year and one has to see the photos of both the Rundu and Katima Mulilo areas and see the marks left by the river to appreciate the level the rivers rose to and the damage that was left in its wake. But Doug is an amazing character and he appears to take the knock in his stride, although he did mention that the strain and stress of running the resort is starting to get to him, mmmmm maybe there is an opportunity knocking for me, but first ‘Buddy and Me’ must complete our crusade on fighting the rape and sexual abuse of children.
After a tremendous day, in-spite of the fact that my elusive monster Tiger Fish remains elusive, we hopped on board and headed for base in the fast setting sun.
This morning, Wednesday, I was up at 6am and spent a leisurely two hours packing, showering and thanking Marcel, the General Manager of the Katima Mulilo Protea Hotel, for his wonderful friendship and hospitality in providing ‘Buddy and Me’ with terrific accommodation, firstly on the night of my arrival in the luxury suite, and then three nights camping in the lovely camping facilities.
After stopping off to say goodbye to the Beares staff and to thank Doug and the guys for their tremendous friendship during my stay in Katima Mulilo, it was time to head out of Namibia, destination Botswana via Ngoma border post.
Yesterday morning I had bought a small pack of meat, intending to make a curry last night, but because of the amount of meat I ate at the braai with the guys, I decided against cooking it and left it in my cooler box with ice. I clean forgot it there and on arriving at the Botswana border post, one has to pass through an animal disease control point where you have to get out and stand on a cloth containing anti- whatever to disinfect your shoes and drive the vehicle “slowly” through a dip. But prior to this, they search the vehicle and trailer to ensure that you are not conveying meat or other produce over the border. I had forgotten all about the meat and it was only when the lady inspector opened my cooler box and extracted the small pack of meat did I remember it. Of course she and her family enjoyed the meat for dinner.
My problems started soon after passing through the Chobe Reserve where normally one sees plenty of animals in the form of Elephant, Zebra, and a wide range of ‘buck’, and where all I saw was a lot of elephant dung, which I presumed, due to the size of it, to be elephant, I didn’t actually stop to do the big game hunter thing of sticking my finger in it, smelling and tasting it to determine it’s sex, age, how long ago it was dropped etc, my excuse being that I was in a bit of a hurry.
The reason for my being in a hurry was because prior to entering Namibia, I had drawn sufficient cash to carry me through Namibia, but when had I tried to draw cash at the First National Bank, my bank, my request at the ATM was declined, and so I wanted to get to Botswana to see if I could draw there and if not have sufficient time before the bank closed to find out what the problem was. At the ATM at the First National bank in Kaserne, my attempt at drawing cash was once again denied.
At the bank I was assisted by a really friendly guy by the name of Godfrey Matengu, who really went beyond the call of duty to help me by phoning my First National Bank branch in Lambton Germiston – Jo’burg, a few times and eventually got the help of another very friendly lady there, by the name of Suzette, who spent an hour trying to locate and solve the problem which turned out to be the fact that my debit card had not been loaded on the Visa international system. But walla, between these two magic friendly individuals the problem was corrected and I was able to draw from my ever depleting budget. But I must say I sweated for awhile wondering what I was going to do without a cent in my wallet and sitting up on the Botswana/Zambia/Zimbabwe border. So to Godfrey and Suzette in Lambton Germiston FNB, you guys have my heartfelt thanks.
But my troubles never ended there, because soon after leaving Kaserne and about 20 kilometres out on the Kaserne – Nata – Francis Town road on my way to where I was hoping to spend the night at a place called ‘A Touch of Africa’ a short way before the village of Pandamatenga, I was stopped by a cop who definitely gets my award for being the most arrogant individual I have ever had the displeasure of meeting, actually no, I don’t think he’s quite as bad as officer Rautenbach in Hazeyview.
After stopping me and refusing to shake my offered extended hand, he pointed out that my trailer did not have the required red T and sticker reflecting (80) as in 80 kilometres an hour. I was then told that he was issuing me with a 500 Pula fine for not having the red T (approximately R600-00) and 300 Pula (R360-00) fine for not having the (80) sign. I asked for leniency as I did know of the requirement and promised that I would obtain the two stickers at the first auto spares shop I reached. His response to this was, “It’s not good enough, I am going to fine you”. I shrugged as there was nothing I could do and then I was told that because I am a South African, it is a spot fine and if I don’t pay it there and then I was going to be arrested.
After explaining that I did not have that amount on me, I was asked “how much do you have, maybe we can make a plan and he won’t issue me with a ticket”. I told him that how much I have on me has nothing to do with him and that I refused to pay anything unless an official receipt was issued. We were obviously on a collision course and his partner realised it, because he walked away and stood a distance off. After a couple of threats of locking me up etc, his partner called to him and after a short chat, the partner came over and said that if I put a T and 80 on with tape, they will let me go with a warning. Fortunately I had insulation tape and so ended up with a white T and white (80), the parting shout from Mr. arrogant was “If I catch you again I will lock you up”.
I arrived at Touch of Africa as the sun was setting and after being greeted by Franz and Mandy Hőbarth the owners who had accommodated me on my last trip through the area and indulged in a cold St Louis Export I set up camp and now having eaten a nice curry beef, having replaced my meat donated to the animal disease inspector at the border, when I passed through Kaserne, I am going to bed for a good nights rest. As I stopped outside the entrance of the resort Mandy called out, “Are you still driving around Africa in that Buggy”. So I will leave you with this picture of my campsite in the bush in the Touch of Africa in the area of Pandamatenga northern Botswana.
So cheers for now, stay well and keep all children safe.
Caring regards from
‘Buddy and Me’ (Steve Heath)
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