Higher Education(1974 to 1982)

This page when completed will cover the period of time when I was trying to equip myself for a career and family life.

Before I even started my higher education my life was severely disrupted by military obligations which began in 1973 and continued on and off for several years.
As I did not have good enough marks in my last school year (matric or standard 10) I was unable to enroll for Electrical Engineering at the University of Natal, Durban campus so I enrolled for a straight BsC taking on some of he most challenging subject; Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Applied Mathematics in January 1974. The plan would then have been to convert to Electrical engineering after my 1st year. Unfortunately due to being in the army (a lame excuse) the little learning discipline that I had at school disappeared completely and I ended up playing cards in the common room becoming a bridge expert and failing all my subject at the end of the year. My father was expectantly extremely disappointed and so had to repay him the university fees as well as the cost of my first car he had bought in order to commute to university. All I had to show for this dismal year was a lime green 1300 Volkswagen beetle and a large debt. A car was never a big thing in my life and only a means of getting to places so the picture on the right is the a scan from an old negative and the only one that I have.

During the final years of high school and beginning of university my calculations were performed using a trusty Faber- Castell slide rule but I was soon to acquire the latest technology at a cost of R250.00

This was the worlds first scientific calculator a HP 35. I have always believed in buying the best but at the same time also looking after my earthly possessions which I have been provided with. I only disposed of this calculator some 34 years later during 2007. It continued to work right to the end, but then only on mains power as it had long outlived its batteries.


The next best thing was for me to go to the Technical college to get some technical qualification but due to my debt needed a sponsor. I was blessed to have a choice of three.

  1. Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa (Siefsa) based in Durban.
  2. Philips SA based in Johannesburg.
  3. South African Railways Signaling department based in Durban.

I chose the Railways as the job sounded promising and also closer to my parents and soon enrolled at the Natal College for advanced technical education in January 1975 and moved into the E. R. Carney railway hostel in Montclair which was not too far from the Technical College

My training consisted of trimesters at the tech with practical work experiences in between which included periods in the drawing office run by a Ted Wright, signal workshops run by a Trevor Hambridge, a test and repair center which was just titled the 'test room' run by a Jimmy Steele and the Apprentice school run by a Walter Averweg. Towards the end of my studies I had to do a subject 'railway signal engineering' at Esselenpark Railway College in Kaalfontein
After several military commitment delays I eventually attained a National Higher certificate for technicians in 1978. Unfortunately I was unable attend the graduation ceremony as again I was on military service so received my certificate in the post.
I got engaged in 1976 and left my family home when I got married in 1978 moving to a flat in the nearby Amanzimtoti.