Zimbabwe Pensioner Support Fund
June, 2021 Report

Johan Schultz Trip Report, June, 2021

Friday, 18 June: We departed Malelane as soon as the Level 4 Covid curfew lifted at 04:00. I was accompanied by Caroline Nel, (Hannes’s daughter and my sister-in-law) in the bakkie. Caroline was returning home to Bulawayo, where she and hubby Willem are our regular hosts.
We had a seamless passing, thanks to clearing agents Sediba on the SA side of the border and Robert in Zimbabwe. The only obstacle we had on our trip up, was Caroline’s sensitive constitution, the problem alleviated by a dose of Imodium. We arrived in Bullies at about 18:00 to a warm meal and a happy Nel household, having mommy back in the mix.

First news we received when landing was that there would be water shedding, no water in Bulawayo from 21 – 25 June. As I unpack, I realised the house was also in a power load shedding state. This luckily only lasted an hour, but these are ongoing and blackouts that occur often without warning. We have pasta that Willem made and enjoy the hearty meal. Angela reports from the warehouse that they would be working into night to ensure the boxes were packed and ready for the truck when Dave arrived.

Saturday, 19 June: I had a very slow start, trying to re-energize after the trip to Bulawayo. I helped Willem get the electrical fence going, as crime is rising in Bullies. Residents talk on social media groups about armed robberies and burglaries increasing in the area. Beefing up security where we sleep seemed to be a good idea and better safe than sorry as the saying goes.

I was invited to a 21st birthday gathering. We had a humble gathering and are served with home-made curry and rice, undecorated chocolate cake and some brownies. It was awesome seeing a big family together in a celebration stripped of the earthly extravagance we are so used to seeing at such a “big” milestone in a young person’s life. A few words from the elders in the group, a heartfelt prayer, and a good old family bantering session. Happy days. One guest mentioned how blessed the day was, he was a neighbour, and has 2 sons and all he wished was for a text message or a call to say hi, it was Father’s Day after all, so sad.

I have an unwritten rule not to drive in Zimbabwe after dark, and so excused myself when the sun started to set and arrived back at Willem’s before dark. I brought some sea fish from Mozambique and we had a fish and chips dinner. It was then off to bath and bed as the truck was due to arrive the next day to be loaded for the round trip.

Sunday, 20 June: I arrived at the warehouse and started with the checklists to ensure the boxes were packed and PPE needs, as requested for homes, were ready with extra winter goodies like Vicks, cough syrup, soup, samp and beans, etc. all packed and marked. Dave reported he was at the border with the truck before 07:00, good going. He arrived at the warehouse in Bullies at 15:00 and we called it a day with Dave due to leave the next morning after loading up. We packed up and went to Willem and Caroline for supper and early off to bed.

Monday, 21 June: We were up and out the house by 07:00, and off to warehouse to pack the truck. When we arrived, the team was already there. We loaded up, ran a final check of the lists and saw Dave and the truck off at about 09:00. Bullies was next and we loaded up the kitchen deliveries for Ralstein, Queen Mary and Edith Duly. After a long and mentally draining day I crawled into bed for some sleep.

Tuesday, 22 June: I started early and drove to get the deliveries done asap as there were rumours of stricter COVID measures to be imposed. I started my deliveries for outsiders around Hillside area and surrounds. A lot of the oldies have started keeping chickens and veggie gardens in the backyard to get by. Again, crime is on the agenda in the Bulawayo area and everyone is on alert and aware of the rise. There was even a break-in at a church where food was thrown on the floor to use the bags and containers to transport stolen goods in. Obviously, a crime driven not by hunger, but greed. In some instances, firearms have been used. The oldies are very aware of this as it is not something this community is used to.

There are lots of well wishes for Hannes as I go and advice on how to feel better and build up strength. There is likewise no shortage on advice and home remedies on how to fight the COVID-19; a world of experience and knowledge to tap from, but who has the right ideas? I called it a day at about 17:30 and headed home to get some rest.

Wednesday, 23 June: I started at around 07:00 again and aimed to do the deliveries to homes. As I visited Coronation Cottages, Barbara Burrell, Masonic Lodge and Garden Park I noted most people were isolating themselves as best they could from the insidious reach of the pandemic. Most have had their first vaccination and some have already had their second jab. Of course we find the odd sceptic that refuses any of the “untested poison”. Everyone to their own, but at least there was a keen awareness, and everyone was cautious and following the basic rules on wearing masks, sanitizing and isolating where possible. I had a cuppa here and a kind word there, noting the morale is slowly on a downward spiral, with this isolation and the lack of social mingling is taking its toll mentally. The passing of old friends and not being able to gather and pay last respects eats at the soul. Not being social is something this generation was not built for.

Thursday, 24 June: I was again up early and off to the warehouse. It was time to wrap up all loose ends and drop the last boxes in the airport road area. I did some special visits and had tea here and there. I visited Dr Legg at Queen Mary to pick up on some of how the good doctor sees the pandemic affecting people as he does a lot of home visits – yes, a doctor doing home visits. Only in Zimbabwe! He told me people are afraid and unsure of what to believe and where this pandemic will still take us. They are desperate for hope and trust in the Almighty for a better future but are financially crippled at every turn. We can only hope and believe tomorrow will be better.

And then lockdown changes were announced by government. Movement restrictions were the most significant, as businesses must close at 15:00 and there is no movement from dusk to dawn, and this is already adhered to in Harare only hours after it was announced. Dave arrives back in Bullies at 16:30. We did his COVID test and prepared for his departure the next morning. After a hearty dinner and warm bath, we were off to bed.

Friday, 25 June: We were up early and off to Mater Dei for Dave’s COVID 19 results. After receiving the negative result, Dave was on the road and rolling by 09:00. We packed up the last odds at the warehouse, packed up the empty boxes from the trip and finalised the last of the stock counts. The team was taken home and warehouse locked.

Saturday, 26 June: I had a break day and was doing my own COVID 19 tests before traveling back. I was joined by Willem as he had some paperwork to update in SA. as his driver’s licence was expiring. We had a braai and relaxed with some down time.

Sunday, 27 June: We were up and on the road by 06:00, loaded with the deliveries along the road to Beitbridge. We dropped off at Gwanda, West Nicholson and last stop just before Todd’s Hotel, then off to the border and home. The border was quiet, and we were through in an hour, half that time spent on the bridge swaying as the heavy vehicles pass, a very uneasy feeling.
The COVID 19 certificates were properly perused and checked before one was allowed to cross the bridge between the two countries. Then we had a very good trip to Malelane and we were home by 22.00.

Dave Austen Trip Report June, 2021
Saturday, 19th June: I set off on a somewhat overcast day and a very quiet road. Ran into light rain, from about Hazyview (Kiepersol), all the way to Mica 140km further on. Roads got a little hectic on this stretch, and are taking a pounding from sixteen-wheelers, presumably running bulk cargo from Phalaborwa in the north down to the Coast. I arrived in Musina at Joe and Hester Joubert’s a little after 15h00, with the dogs waking up the neighborhood from their Saturday afternoon nap. Not happy chappies. The neighbours or the dogs, you ask? Well, both!

Leaving the truck at Joe and Hester’s (our usual Musina parking spot), we settled down with a good cup of tea and chat with Colleen and her daughter.  (Joe and Hester were still up country with family, on R&R).

Sunday, 20th June: I got off to an early start and was through the S.A. Custom / Immigration side relatively quickly, having already informed Robert (our Zimbabwe clearing agent) of where I was. I was hoping for a similarly expedited passage through the Zim side, but it wasn’t to be, as Robert was temporarily held up. Even so, it was a hassle-free process. Now for the “Not under the Influence, just trying to miss the pot-holes” section of The Road.

Saw a number of flocks of Queleas along the way, literally thousands of them. Given their numbers, it’s a wonder I’ve never seen any of them collide on take-off or in flight. We humans could learn a lesson from these little birds.

I arrived at the Bulawayo warehouse in the mid-afternoon. Left the truck in Angela’s capable hands prior to loading up of the old folks boxes which was scheduled for the next Morning. At the Nel’s place, I was enthusiastically greeted by Willem and the children, and was given a lesson in goal-kicking by the boys in the back yard. Needless to say, I lost to the guys again.

Monday, 21st June: On arrival at the warehouse loading was so to say done with, Johan and I ran over some Issues for the round trip and by 9am I was on my way to Gweru to Boggies Trust.

Ever-grateful folks were waiting & chatting outside on my arrival, Fred and Kate Munger, Babs Coetzee, Aunt Ivy and of course Bruce Chilcott. Topic of conversation was mainly based around COVID-19 as it would appear that it is rampant over the midlands. Looking at what is taking place on the ground it would appear folks are adhering to policies re masks, sanitizer, etc. but social distancing – not so much (apart from the Homes I visited). On arrival at Huisversig I was greeted by happy and smiling Ricki and her husband, who is one massive man, in the words of Jimmy Dean’s 1961 hit song: “6ft-6, weighing 245 lbs, broad at the shoulders, narrow at the hips” -Big Bad John. Well I had a brief chat and then was on my way.

On my way to Hubert Lee (Redcliff) I received a message from Bruce informing me of the passing of Robin Venter of Boggies. R.I.P. Friend. At Hubert Lee, I was greeted by the ever-grateful residents who are always willing to lend a hand. They’re experiencing a Rodent problem at the centre and improvising to rid themselves of the problem.

Then I made a quick run through to Lynnbrook (Kwe Kwe) for their delivery. Happy and cheerful greetings from Alan Hagemann, Margot Gilby and Hendrik De Klerk. Again, talking points centered mainly around the world-wide COVID-19 pandemic. One of the many pleasures for me whilst traveling through the country is it’s scenic beauty.

My next stop was at Westview (Kadoma). I arrived a little after 16h00 and managed to convince the staff to off-load prior to knocking off. Greeted by the usual welcoming guy’s Del. Chris Ferreira and Dannie. Folks were curious as to what the border post crossing on both sides was like and if there were any problems of which I filled them in telling them of the progress thus far and hopefully once complete the facility will be used for the purpose intended. Once again COVID-19 was brought up along with the treatment and prevention of it and how the guys in the home were receiving the preventative treatment.

That evening I was treated to a filling hot meal by Estelle and Clive O’Reilly. We chatted about family and friends before turning in for the night. Thanks to Clive and Estelle who have so faithfully provided accommodation for ZPSF drivers over the years.
Tuesday, 22nd June: After a healthy breakfast was on my way to Sunningdale in Chinhoyi. There I was greeted by what must have been most of the ladies of the home, thanking all that give so generously both big and small to the Fund. Wishing us all Godspeed and well on the road. I thank the folks at Sunningdale for sharing what little they have whenever the truck visits.
My run through to Harare was incident-free. It took a little longer than usual due to getting caught up behind sixteen wheelers – trucks and bulk and fuel tankers.

On arrival John and Leonie Herbst were ready for me. After a refreshing cuppa we got down to the offloading. John was arranging his itinerary for a trip to the United States as chaperone to a group of youngsters who were going on a Bass fishing competition. Once the task at hand was done, we settled down to chat. John was obviously excited about the competition andI left him and Leonie to wrap up issues. I hope you guys did well and enjoyed yourselves.

Wednesday, 23rd June: I took off early the next morning for Marondera for the Banks’s and Gibson’s drop. Mrs Banks, the toasted egg sandwiches were lovely, just what the doctor ordered. They were genuinely appreciated, and I was glad to see you guys are looking strong and well. Stay well and God Bless.

Next stop was the “tea pot and cookies” home, Resthaven (Rusape), where I was greeted by the ever-grateful folks – all happy chappies. What a spread they had on the table! Once again, thanks to Gill, Lena, Sheila and all the ladies. We all tucked in to the treats. I was introduced to a guy by Stu Taylor whom I knew from way back when and I mean kudala skat – good to see you Bud. Rolling out of Rusape, I was on my way to one of the most scenic parts of the country – Mutare and the Eastern highlands.

Long term ZPSF volunteers Des and Sally Bekker have been serving the local community for many years, often making deliveries throughout the region themselves. I had intended to spend the evening with them by prior arrangement, but whilst on my way to Mutare, my sixth sense was telling me to keep moving. After my arrival, Des and his guys had the truck off loaded chop chop.
Folks coming in and out whilst we were busy were talking about supposed further lockdown restrictions – is this what my sixth sense was trying to tell me?

I was on my way in the shortest possible time, not wanting to be driving after dark. Just prior to my departure, Des got news of the sad passing of another of our oldies. R.I.P. Mrs Mohammad.

Birchenough Bridge is a engineering sight to behold It stands as a proud testament to those who designed and built it. Sadly, lack of maintenance has seriously compromised its structural integrity, and it will take more than a paint job to restore it.

On arrival at Pioneer Cottages (Masvingo) I was met by Val Hundermark. As it was getting late I left the unloading of boxes for the next morning. I was ushered to my room and told that a meal would be forthcoming and oh boy was it a meal, rice and chicken curry with custard and cake! So much appreciated – thank you all.

Thursday, 24th June: Next morning I was fed a healthy bowl of mielie pap and tea. Then got down to the off-loading of the boxes with Val and Johnny.

My run through to both Zvishavane to Lynne D’Ewes and Shurugwi to Muus Lodge was uneventful but I’m sure the Folks receiving their boxes are very grateful to all who contribute to the ZPSF whose vital mission would not be possible without their generous support.

I was back in Bulawayo by 16:30, early enough to have the boxes seen to at the warehouse and for me to have my COVID-19 test done, with the assurance of having my results by the next morning at eight.

I was once again spoilt with a delicious meal by Caroline and family. The home-grown spinach was delicious, and I was able to tuck in to a second plate.

Friday, 25th June: My run back to S.A. went very well once I was through Zims Customs, etc. I did get to spend at least an hour if not longer on the bridge with mainly trucks going to and from S.A. (hundreds), the swaying sensation and movement of the bridge under our wheels was quite something. One could not help but think imagine if this lot goes what then?

In closing I would like all to give a thought to the plight of our oldies in Zim with the spiraling costs of living and trying to eke out a living on what little pensions they receive. The mixed emotions seen and noted at the homes, centers and cottages of all our oldies is hard to see. They live in faith, hope, love and trust in our Lord and Savior.

Head office South Africa contact details:
Linda Schultz – linda@zpsf.co.za – (C) 079 6082676  (T) 013 7900934
Johan Schultz – info@zpsf.co.za – 082 4979328
Hannes Botha – pensupzim@telkomsa.net – 084 5893221

Section 21 Co Reg. 2007/034036/08; NPO Number 096733; Section 18A PBO No 930031642