The battle of the “Red tape”


Dar Campsite

Dar Campsite (Photo credit: al_green)

Being fairly newly married, Kobus does not know all my hidden streaks (or talents?) that well yet.  And so he learnt the following about me yesterday:  I am like a bull-dog, once I get a hold of something, I rarely let go until my head is severely sore from bumping it against a solid brick wall.  Meaning, I love the fight for what I believe is right, and I will cease such fight only when I really see I am never going to win the battle.

We left Tanzania a month ago, leaving our few precious personal belongings that we were not able to cart on a flight with us, in the care of the mother of a gentleman who we were referred to for carrying goods between Tanzania and South Africa via road freight.  His mom lives close to where we lived in Kigamboni, and as his truck was late on arriving from South Africa before loading our goods, we had no option but to bid farewell to about 17 boxes packed with anything from a bag of raisins, to suntan lotion, to the dog-food box.  And most of my clothes!!  Now being a woman, I am sure other women will relate to my distress of having to live on short clothing choices for more than a month!  Enough to drive any sober woman to drink….

And then the truck still did not arrive in Dar es Salaam on the expected date, but only 10 days later – my nerves were shattered.  The result being that our goods got loaded 14 days late – thank the Dear Lord that we managed to rent a furnished house, bedding et al, as I have no idea how else we were supposed to manage.  After loading in Dar, they set off and we kept track of the progress every day.

Early yesterday morning I got a call from truck owner to inform me that they made it all the way down from Dar es Salaam, through rural Tanzania – Morogoro, Iringa, Mbeya, then into Zambia, all the way down through the game parks into Botswana, through Gaberone, and finally to the border post between Botswana and South Africa and then – caboom!  South African Customs department wants R4000 from us to bring our own belongings back into our home country!  The same items that cost us R5000 in bribe monies to get said items out of Dar es Salaam Customs 6 months ago!!!!  And this is where I said enough is enough.  My poor husband was panicky and wanted to pay, but like a “steeks donkie” (a reluctant-to-move donkey), I dug my feet in and started calling SARS departments in both Cape Town and Johannesburg.  I spent around R300 on phone calls, calling at least 20 times, pleading with border officials, begging supervisors in Johannesburg, getting more info on the official act of importing goods, and by 5 pm yesterday afternoon, I got a call from truck owner to congratulate me on the good news that the truck had left the border post and was on its way to Johannesburg – final destination, 7000kms later!   Relief abounded!  And Kobus acceded that he married a very strong-willed woman. 🙂  And what a victory it was for me, firstly knowing that I got the various officials into such a knot that they did not quite know who gave the final go-ahead for the truck to leave, as I still got mails late last night and this afternoon to ask for more proof that the items were in fact ours – hours after they were safely in Johannesburg.  Secondly, because said truck owner got rather nasty and wanted to off-load my stuff at the border post, as he had a “tight schedule” – two weeks late with my stuff – the damn cheek!

So today, my boxes were finally delivered on the farm – looking all the worse for wear, most of them opened and crushed on some corners, signs of getting wet (probably rain when loading) etc.  But when I lifted the lids on some and looked at my beloved sun-shade, duvet cover, small stool etc, my heart rejoiced at just getting some of the familiar past back into this new life we are venturing into.  We are moving to the farm this weekend, and I cannot wait to unpack and doll up the house again, hang my beloved paintings and serve food from my white crockery.  And make the house a home again.  Especially since some of the kids start to arrive for the holidays as from tomorrow….

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About suletta

Fell in love again at age 50! And followed my man to Zanzibar, for him to set up a dairy farm. I managed to travel into Africa a few times in my life, always loving it and experience the "fever" that grips you on African soil - the one that especially the Europeans now and in years gone by, suffer from. Except I am an African by birth - a South African. A Mzungu.So I discovered at this late stage in my life (not that I feel old!) that some people find my babblings about life interesting, and I quote: "live their lives vicariously through me".
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One Response to The battle of the “Red tape”

  1. danniehill says:

    Sorry I’m late Suletta– as usual these days. Congrats on holding firm! It’s much the same in Thailand and I too don’t give in except for the small stuff. One thing I found is: The laws don’t mean that much, it all depends on who you seat in front of to get things done. If I can’t get what I want I come back the next day and talk to someone new until I get the paperwork I need. Almost always works.

    We’re thinking, actually more than thinking, about moving back to the States and I’ve decided we will leave everything here excpet clothes. The electricity is different and shipping and duty is crazy. We will return from time to time to check on the farm and relax. Still looking for a seaworthy sailboat to cross the ocean– probably singlehanded, which suits me.

    I fogot to mention on you last post about ‘milking’ the bull. Here in Thailand almost all milk cows are holsteins and the insemination fluid comes from Canada. Not sure why but it’s free to farmers.

    I hope life is settleing down on the new farm!

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