My husband, Colin lived in South Africa for four years from 1975 to 1979. During that time he worked for one year in plastics and then was offered a position with the South African Project Management Company in the management of the construction of the SASOL II Oil Refinery project in Secunda, Transvaal.
I think it’s best that I let him describe his experiences in, as well as the beauty of this country …
My first year I lived in Springs and worked for SAMPS as a foreman making telephones. After working here for a year I accepted a new position as Office Manager working on the construction of the SASOL 2 oil refinery.
I was one of the first occupants of the new township of Secunda. My house was one of two houses that were initially equipped with a telephone, and …
… I am not talking about a dial phone, I mean the old fashioned type of telephone …
… the type that you had to wind the handle in order to make it operable and connect to the operator.
This telephone was a communal telephone, and my neighbours would often call in to use the phone. Before ringing you had to listen to hear if the other party line was not using it.
I was fortunate enough to visit Swazi Land, Kruger National Park, Long Tom Pass, and many more interesting places in the Transvaal.
One year, along with several friends from the site, we drove down to Durban for a holiday. As we descended towards the coast you could feel the change in the air. It became very humid. We were used to the dry atmosphere of the Transvaal.
On our long weekends off we often visited Johannesburg …
… where we would stay for the weekend to shop, go to shows and play some golf.
We were very lucky to have a fantastic golf course close by the site. Our local course was close to Evander and I believe their membership more than tripled when the British, American and South African staff working on the SASOL site joined. Some of the contractors would sponsors competitions so we had many great weekends. After the games it was back home and firing up the braai (barbecue).
My farther came to visit for three months and one of our trips was to the Kruger National Park, unfortunately our experience we remembered the most was been chased by a rhinoceros. We saw many animals but we always talked about the chase. On our return from the Kruger National Park, we stayed overnight in Sabie, a small town in Eastern Transvaal.. The following morning when we awoke and went for breakfast, we were surprised to find that …
… there wasn’t a sole in the village. We wondered Why.
Believe it or not, it had snowed overnight, and all the villagers, who had never seen snow before …
… had driven up to the mountain to see the snow.
Unfortunately, I was not able to go back over the pass as it was blocked …
… so, I had to detour through Nelspruit.
I definitely understand why South Africa is called …
… GODS COUNTRY.
The scenery is absolutely breathtaking.
There are also some very interesting areas. One of the areas that I thought was fantastic was Badplaas. This is a small town, adjacent to hot mineral springs at the foot of the Ndlumudlumu hills. These mineral springs are known for their …
… Healing Waters (Emanzana).
Due to the petrol restrictions at the time I lived in South Africa, you were limited to how far you could drive on weekends, unless you were lucky enough to arrange for a petrol voucher.
As there was very little to do in Secunda during the first year, I was given the responsibility of entertaining the children. SASOL allowed us to use one of their farm houses and we used this facility to put on discos and you could rent videos from a shop in the nearby town of Evander so Saturday morning was movie day for the kids. We also had many darts nights and braai's (barbacue's) at the farm.
When we no longer had access to this facility many of our friends built wet bars with a dart board in their house or garage and we would entertain with cheese and wine evenings and darts competitions
I also arranged wine tasty evenings at a friend’s restaurant in Trichardt. This went down well as the owners did not have a liquor licence and when you dined there you had to take you own booze. So every night when the different wineries were promoting their wines we would have a packed house.
I really enjoyed my time in Secunda but my contract ended and I returned to the UK.
It is over 30 years since I left South Africa and I will be looking for new information about all the exciting changes and new places to visit.
If you have some interesting stories to tell please contact me using our contact form below
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