Category Archives: Death

What happened

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On Sunday I worked with my partner running a bar at a function held at the Airport. We started packing up the bar by 5pm when it started raining, loading all our cold boxes, trestle tables and stock onto our 7tonne truck. I left the airport at about 6:15pm driving in my Rav4J in front of the truck. I was going very slowly as I was concerned about the truck on the muddy dirt road. It was very dark and raining heavily and on reaching the strip tar road I had to wait for traffic, visibility was very bad. On the strip road itself I hadn’t gone very far when I came up behind a pickup loaded down with wood parked in the middle of the road with no lights on. I was going very slowly after that making sure the truck was always safe behind me.

Once reaching the full tar road I came to a point where there was a curve then the road went uphill slightly. At the top of the rise there were a lot of headlights shining and I realised there was an accident and slowed down on approaching.

There was a white SUV type vehicle slightly off the road on my left with its front passenger side in the bushes. Directly in the left hand path of the road a Honda Fit was parked across, its front facing the right side of the road but the right side of the road was mostly open, the boot of the vehicle was standing open. I saw a young European man standing in the middle of the road with blood running down his face so I stopped and ran to him to see what I could do.

He didn’t seem badly hurt, the blood on his face seemed to be coming from a gash on his forehead but he seemed to move ok and there was no other injury noticeable. He was dazed and very shaken and all he said was please can you help me please can you call my brother Michael Bailey at the airport. I realised he must have been one of the son’s of someone who I work with at the school, but I didn’t recognise him as I dont know him very well.

I went back to my car to get my phone. I had parked in such a way that my lights and hazard lights were lighting up the area around the Fit and beyond. I called my partner and told him quickly to get the boy’s brother to come.  I told the driver of my truck behind me that I was going to wait for the brother to come then we would go. The road was very busy and I was worried as being on the curve, my truck was also now becoming a hazard.

I noticed on the far side of the Fit a lot of people milling around, about ten to fifteen and I noticed parked along the left verge beyond the Fit there were four other vehicles with people inside them and standing next to them, their lights were all on and I remember 3 small cars similar to the Fit and a minibus, all loaded with boxes and bags on roofs. People were taking belongings and bags out of the Fit and were moving to these other taxis. There was a man who seemed to be in charge of everyone, helping them get their stuff and talking, he had a white bag slung across his chest. I remembered listening to them talk about ZRP so I presumed he had phoned them. He was taking stuff from the open back of the Fit and passing it to people.

The young man sat down on the ground by the front wheel of the Fit and I was worried he was in shock so I tried to keep talking to him reassuring him his brother was on the way. I asked him if he had all his belongings like wallets & phones out of his car and he said he had someone elses phone on him. I was very worried about the bang on his head and shock setting in but he was very quiet and restrained.

While crouched down next to him I noticed that the Fit’s park lights were on but the main lights were off and the engine was still running. I called to the men talking on the other side of the Fit that I thought we should turn the engine off as I was worried about fuel spillage. The man with the white bag came and switched off the vehicle, I had assumed from his actions and behaviour that he was the driver.

While the vehicle was being turned off I moved to the back of the Fit and noticed a pile of clothes in the back which seemed to be moving, there were pieces of wood on the road and there seemed to be material hanging out of the back of the boot. I wondered what was under the moving material but I didn’t look closely and as none of the other people at the vehicle seemed to be paying much attention to it, I presumed it was a goat or something they were transporting. No-one had really been around the back of the vehicle except the man with the white bag and he had also been taking various people around to the passenger side of the white SUV and they were looking at something but I never checked what. At various times, the man with the bag and two other of the men around the vehicles said to me that I should take the boy to the hospital but I replied that his brother was coming and he would deal with it.

The brother arrived and the young boy broke down and was crying and crying.

I was very worried about the amount of traffic backing up behind my truck and being on a curve like we were it was a dangerous area even though we had hazards flashing. The rain had subsided but there was still a light drizzle. I signaled to the driver we were going and climbed back in my car and started pulling away. As I came along side the young men around the boy I said to them they must try and keep him warm as I was worried about shock and the one man reassured me that it was ok they would look after him. I drove around the Fit and paused on the far side to make sure my truck got around ok and while waiting I noticed that all the taxis and minibus which had been parked on the verge were now gone. There was still a lot of traffic on the road though.

I was involved in this over the weekend and it has really shaken me, this is part of the statement I had to submit to the police. The taxi situation in this country is the most awful and totally out of control. There is no control of them by the police and the drivers very often have no licences and the taxis are in the most un-roadworthy condition. I fight every day coming to work and going home as I have to be constantly alert for which side of the road these lunatics decide to drive on, decide to overtake on, decide to stop on. They have no manners, no worry about other road users and definitely no concern for their passengers – the amount of accidents they have caused where the passengers have been hurt or killed and the driver gets out of the vehicle and runs away.

The pile of clothing in the back of the car was a body, the young boy was unlicensed and had been drinking. It was a dark and rainy night and almost positively this Fit had no rear lights showing. There was a man leaning over the back of the car lifting his luggage and wood into the Fit, the impact severed his body in half.

The sad thing is that nothing has been done about the fact the vehicle was stopped in the middle of the road with no lights in such bad conditions, the focus is totally on the young boy being unlicensed, probably not sober and white.

 

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Tribute and Tribulation

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Tribute and tribulation, two words so very similar in spelling and pronunciation but vastly different in meaning. The exact difference was brought home to me this past week when I experienced both in the space of twelve hours.
We paid tribute to a man who came into Mozambique at a time when the country was just emerging from a long and horrific civil war which had torn the country apart and brought it to the knees of poverty and deprivation. He came into the country from Zimbabwe, first on regular trips, trading foods and items from Zimbabwe, for prawns and seafood from the coast. The roads were practically nonexistent with the risk of mines or attacks from either of the warring parties along the way. He would tell stories for hours describing the trips and adventures and close shaves he, his family and his friends had in those early days.
The stories of setting up business in Mozambique at a time when legal administrative procedures were nonexistent and everything was done with bribery and corruption as par for the process were amazing. In Beira, at the time, there was no piped water or sanitation facilities, very rarely any electricity and no shops, fuel or basic living commodities. As he and his family were coming through to Beira so often and friends were starting to join them it was decided that a restaurant and camp ground should be built. This was started on a small-scale but its popularity became such that it expanded and grew into a sprawling, thatched roof venue renown for good food and the best view in Beira. That was twenty years ago, this man and his family certainly saw and experienced a lot of change in the slowly awakening country. When he passed away two weeks ago the restaurant was closed for the day in order to hold a memorial service for him. The Service was a tribute to his memory read out and spoken about by various longstanding members of the Beira community. Each of the members of the restaurant staff, some of whom had been with him from the beginning, took a handful of ashes from the box held by his son and threw them into the sea. A fitting tribute as he had loved the ocean.
Then came the tribulation. Half an hour after we locked up and went home we received a call to say the restaurant was on fire. His Restaurant. What an awful shock, what desolation, what bone crushing sadness. You can never prepare yourself for something like this and the ache inside my chest was so extreme at times I thought I would be ill.
Why did this happen? What was the reason? How did it happen? How are we going to survive?
A week later not many of the questions have been answered but I have theories. He loved the restaurant, it was his, maybe he wanted to take it with him. Maybe someone still living decided he should take it with him.
Whatever the reason, the tribulation of suddenly realising you have nothing left out of what was something huge pushed us to a level we did not realise we could reach. Out of adversity comes strength, strength you often do not realise you have. The Old Man built the restaurant through a lot of trial and tribulation on his part, maybe now it was our turn to rebuild and suffer a similar stress and tribulation in order to learn to appreciate what he went through.
In our tribute to him we had to experience the tribulation he had endured as he knew he had left that legacy of strength in his family and he knew they would get through and achieve what he had achieved and love it the same as he had.

Losing family and friends

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Just like certain flowers flowering in batches, certain fruits ripening in batches, people seeming to fall pregnant in batches, death seems to happen in batches.  This past month I have had the anniversary of my sisters death, and have had the 21 year old brother of a good friend die in a motor bike accident as well as 3 other long known friends passing away.  Does death happen in batches?  Do our circles overlap through life in such a way that they all overlap at a certain time which means death and sadness.  does it depend on how many people we know.  Perhaps it seems as if there are batches because if you know a lot of people then the deaths will be noticeable, whereas if you know only a few people then perhaps only one or two will pass in a close period of time making it not so noticeable and heartbreaking.