As Maun Senior Secondary School expanded, new access was needed to the new houses. New roads came into being. The MSSS Construction Unit kept pace with the interlocking paving of all the roads and car parks complete with kerbing. All very smart, it was the envy of inter-school visitors who were finding that their own identical budgets for similar expansion were falling far shorter than ours.
One Saturday in July 1997, loaded with precast kerbing, I was backing up a road under construction to offload the kerbing when a teacher shot out of her driveway behind me, impaling her car on my tow hitch.
She accused me of reckless driving and took me to court to have me pay for her damages. I got Carl Anderson, ex-Zimbabwean lawyer, to plead my case, which dragged on until December. There were repeated postponements; when the prosecutor was sick, when the policeman that was called to the scene was away on course, etc. At one point, Carl was lying on the courtroom floor counting the tiles to illustrate to the teacher that she had not the space or time to leave her yard without hitting my vehicle! All very amusing and eventually thrown out of court. Sadly for her the teacher passed away before the final verdict. Still, I had to pay Carl’s fee, which was less amusing.
My company, Redwood Holdings, finally acquired the plot I had applied for on the Thamalakane River in Sexaxa Ward, although we would not move there until 2000. Initially I fenced it, but I knew I would replace the fence with walling. The first building was a breeze-block double tank stand in one corner. This included a store room downstairs for tools and building materials, a battery room/bedroom upstairs with a balcony upstairs and the tanks on top of that. Eventually, on top of the tanks, the solar photo voltaic panels would be placed. All in the interests of off-the-grid living.
Six metres up, I was reaching above my head to move one of the tanks, when the block under my foot gave way. Landing flat on my back on the ground below, a metre away from being impaled on a steel fence guying peg, it knocked the breath out of me. My assistant, Madimbura, ran down the ladder, out of the gate and rushed to my aid, trying to haul me to my feet. I was trying to tell him to leave me alone without the breath to do so.
Slowly bending all my bendy bits, I found that I had broken no bones. My intercostals were the most sore from my chest having collapsed somewhat. Eventually I was able to get to my feet and return to finish the job.
Twenty minutes later, my dear wife cycled by with friend, Joy Evans, and Klaas and Maria Bol’s kids.
“Now, don’t you go and fall off there!” Sheila yelled, as wives are wont to do. Only two days later, when I was sure there were no side effects, did I tell her that her warning had come too late.
We were fast asleep, one night in September, when we heard the vehicle, with visitors from South Africa we’d been expecting, arrive. Relieved that they had got there safely, we were horrified to catch sight of Andy Maling, Sheila’s nephew, with his face covered in blood. Nicholas Simkin, her son, had all but written his car off hitting a cow on the Nata-Maun road. It used to happen regularly in those days. Luckily, though, Nurse Sheila was on hand to attend to Andy’s head cut.