While I was a mechanic working for Charlie Edmunds at Edmac Contractors in Kitwe, we had an agreement with a South African trucking company to look after their vehicles when they were in Zambia. Although I think the company was from South Africa, I have found an old address book and I have an entry for Heins Motor & Diesel Engineering Co (PVT) Ltd of Box 3119 Salisbury, Rhodesia.
We heard that one of their trucks had been involved in an accident on the Zambezi Escarpment and Charlie asked me to investigate. Loading up a pickup with some tools, myself and my now ex wife drove down to the border at Chirundu but didn’t see any sign of an accident. Asking around we got the impression that a truck had gone over the escarpment and was now at the bottom of the ravine.
We retraced our steps looking carefully for any signs and then found some marks on the road on the approaches of a left hand bend. Parking the vanette, we looked over the edge and there was the truck.
Climbing down, we were just in time to prevent the theft of the wheels, so we hired a malonda on the spot to guard the wreck. We then went back to Lusaka General Hospital where I was able to identify the bodies of the driver and his mate and then we returned to Kitwe.
Upon our return a couple of days later we were astonished to find the wreck had been completely burnt out. It turned out that the malonda had got scared in the night when a lion came close so he stoked up his fire. Unfortunately, this set alight the spilled ammonium nitrate fertiliser which had been contaminated with the diesel from the ruptured fuel tanks. the resultant mixture must have gone off with quite a bang.
© Photographs by Steve & Jill Moorey