The names of people in this story have been changed.
chilly winter’s morning, in Harare, Zimbabwe, I
wandered outside with my dog Tosca’s biscuits only to discover that Tosca had
gone! I was absolutely devastated!
My German Shepherd, Tosca, had been a delight in my life for eight years. She has the most loving nature and this is shown to everyone – children, old people, young people of all races. She was not a wanderer and I was at a loss as to what had happened to her.
I soon discovered a broken electric gate - the thieves seemed to have scaled the 8-foot high wall and tampered with the gate motor. We immediately began canvassing the neighbourhood and asking questions.
involved: friends, colleagues put
the word out. Tosca, my best and most loyal friend, was gone and I would
not rest until I had found her. We drove around a 20 km
radius of the house and stopped and asked people if they had seen her. We
searched in storm ditches, bushy areas, golf courses and empty houses. We were
given a few leads, but they came to naught. I was frantic!
Walter, a caddy from the golf course came sheepishly to our door and said he knew who had taken Tosca. Miracle of miracles! It sounded like a very credible lead and we jumped onto it immediately. I commandeered the support of our local police station and filed a "missing dog report". They took it very seriously and were as helpful as they could be given that they had no transport, no pens, and no paper! I provided pens, paper and transport and set about trying to find the fellow who had allegedly taken Tosca. He normally lived at the golf course club, but news travels fast and by the time we got there, he had disappeared.
We established that Walter had a girlfriend in a squatter camp (shanty town) and we worked on the notion that perhaps he had gone there with Tosca. We headed there in the late afternoon. My family and friends wanted to come with us but I would not let them. I knew it could be dangerous and I would have felt terrible if anyone got hurt.
The first farm invasion and murder of a white farmer had taken place by black
so-called “war veterans” who wanted all the land back for themselves. These
war veterans had moved en masse into the city areas and were building shacks all
over the place. There was a sense of tangible unease in Harare and it was even
worse in the farming areas. There is a large high-density area outside Harare
called Epworth, and Epworth Overflow has all the shacks and homes built by folk
who could not fit into Epworth proper – and these were mainly war veterans and
their families and any other trouble causer without a base! So, when one got an
address in Epworth Overflow, that's all one got, EPWORTH OVERFLOW! It is a HUGE
area covering many hectares, with no electricity, no running water, no roads and
many, many people. Epworth is famous for balancing rocks and scattered amongst
these rocks were houses built out of mud, scrap roofing and plastic. There was
no municipal service there, so the tracks made by masses of human traffic were
full of rubbish and raw sewage.
We drove along bumpy, filthy tracks from section to section, stopping only where
I could park my double cab bakkie in the "go away position" - not that
I could ever have found my way out of this maze of tracks back onto a road that
resembled a normal tar road! The policeman would hop out and speak to people
asking if they had seen a man matching Walter's description with a dog. Although
the men in the area treated him with suspicion and some hostility, the women and
children happily told all! After a few hours of doing this, and by this time it
was very dark, we found out that he had gone with Tosca to one of the local shabeens. (illegal tavern) Great! Now we had to go deeper into Epworth Overflow!
day we went to the industrial areas, met with less than salubrious individuals,
paid out large sums of money for the next clue. We were a strange team, but a
team we were, and nothing was going to stop us!
pets NEVER give up on us, no matter what we do, and so we should not give up on
them. Nor does God give up on us - it's simple principle that in today's world
we too easily forget - DON'T GIVE UP! There is good around every corner.
Something happened overnight and Walter told the police where he had eventually
taken Tosca! The police called me with the news and again I collected my travel companions from the station. We drove to a factory where a
Turkish businessman was deeply affronted at us bringing Walter there. Walter
pointed a finger at this man and declared that he had bought Tosca from him. On
failing to sell Tosca to the security companies at the industrial sites, Walter
had gone back to the businessman who originally hired him. He sold Tosca for a
The businessman reluctantly gave us the address where
Tosca was and then asked for his money back - ASKED FOR HIS MONEY BACK!!!
Can you believe it? The cop was smart and he told him that he could claim
his money back from the state after he had faced possession of stolen property
charges. The ONLY time I felt really threatened was when I was facing
that businessman. He was so angry and so volatile that I thought he would hurt
all of us. Otherwise, all the Zimbabweans I had first hand dealings with were
not aggressive at all.
The team was not to be stopped now! We got to a
house in the suburbs that looked like Fort Knox! 12-foot wall, CCTV camera's
positioned on the corners and at the driveway, four lock up garages with no
windows and steel roll doors which were securely locked. Not your average house
and very obviously a front for some other type of business. Locked up in cages
in the back yard were a number of dogs - one of them was my beloved Tosca! Apart
from being a bit tired and extremely dirty she was in fine shape and the SPCA
were called in to take the other dogs away.
Walter was locked up for 2 years but released for good
behaviour after six months. I was playing golf shortly after his release when he
approached me on the golf course and tried to sell me some found golf balls! I
asked him if he recognised me and he said he did and that he had forgiven me!!
After a visit to the vet for a check up, a bath and a good feed and water Tosca collapsed in a heap and slept for two days solid. God took care of her during that time and He took care of us in our posse! We went to places where people just did not venture in a time when Zim was in a lot of turmoil. We were most certainly in danger. But, God watched over us and He guided us to the right place at the right time.
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