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Wed
30
Sep '09

Day 58 – 59: Monday and Tuesday, 28-29 September 2009

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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Hi it’s us again, Buddy and Me, but I’m afraid to have to inform you it’s a very sick Buddy and Me. Monday morning I was up nice and early, packed and heading out back to Middleburg and then supposedly continue on to Belfast. When I started Buddy he started fine but still had the slight grinding noise which I was sure was the starter motor, but I had asked my brother in law Richard of RAD Auto Electrical in Germiston to see if he could locate a refurbished starter motor for me – at a decent price of course – so that should I need to I could pop back into Germiston and have a new one fitted without much delay to my scheduled itinerary.

Soon after leaving home and while driving down the Springs highway (N17) thinking about how good it had been to be home with May who provided me with coffee and toast in bed every morning, I couldn’t help thinking of the sign I had seen in the B&B I had stayed in while in Groblersdal – LekkerBreek – which read “If you want breakfast in bed then sleep in the kitchen”, but back to my drive. About 10 kilometres out, the grinding noise got steadily worse, and after 20 kilometres, just before reaching the Witbank highway, there was an almighty horrific grinding noise and it sounded like Buddy’s heart (engine) was popping out and Buddy ground to a halt!

I made a call to my ever faithful friend Ryan Robins (President of the Derelicts MCC of which I might add I have been made an Honorary Member) who arrived with our other buddy Sean, and Buddy and I were towed back home. On arriving home, Sean immediately got out the spanners and after the starter motor was removed it was established that the starter motor has now gone to that special place in the sky specially reserved for starter motors that have travelled extensively around Africa in Beach Buggies doing good work.

I bought a new starter motor (a major blow to my already depleted budget) and Sean fitted it. I was hoping and praying that by fitting the new starter motor I could get straight back on the road and resume my journey through to Middleburg and Belfast and so not have to make any drastic changes to my schedule. I turned the ignition key with, believe me, more than a few butterflies in my stomach and cringed when I heard this terrible clanking sound coming from the engine compartment. Sean and I just looked at each other and the expression on his face and the shrug of his shoulders said it all!

Buddy while in first stage of surgery

1 – The generator cover where I had fitted spacer (washers) to stop the fan scraping on blue engine cowling

1 – The generator cover where I had fitted spacer (washers) to stop the fan scraping on blue engine cowling

2 - Bonnet seal broken to expose dashboard and new ignition

2 - Bonnet seal broken to expose dashboard and new ignition

3 – Brand new starter motor fitted

3 – Brand new starter motor fitted

4 – Buddy exposed

4 – Buddy exposed

The only thing left to do was to speak to the ‘expert’, so I drove through to Gideon at GP Beetles in Alberton North and explained in my best technical terms what had transpired. After spending about twenty minutes telling him the whole sad story he shook his head and said “Steve, better you just tow Buddy in and let me check him out”, and so this morning – Wednesday 30th – at 7am, Ryan arrived and towed ‘Buddy and Me’ to GP Beetles where he was scheduled to undergo extensive surgery.

At around 10:30am I received a call from Gideon who informed me that I must brace myself to expect the worst! Buddy, it seemed, from the initial tests – trying to start – showed signs that the crank was cracked and Buddy’s heart (the engine) was caput!! I immediately summonsed the help of my esteemed bunch of friends, who form the nucleus of Buddy and my survival team, to source a strategy to pull Buddy through this life threatening situation, and many phone calls were made from a number of cell phones to all parts of the country to source Beetle engines and even attempts were made to source 1400 Nissan engines; one was located in Pietermaritzburg (Kwa- Zulu Natal) and even one in Langabaan (Cape Town), and the guys were prepared to travel to both places to go and get the engines. Fortunately at 2:30 in the afternoon, Gideon called and gave us the good news – that fortunately only the flywheel had been split in two by the seizing of the starter motor and that Buddy’s heart (the engine) was fine!

Buddy’s medical aid support team, (from left to right) - Gaston, Uncle D, Michael, Ryan, Sean, Paul (front) and Me

Buddy’s medical aid support team, (from left to right) - Gaston, Uncle D, Michael, Ryan, Sean, Paul (front) and Me

So with Buddy’s heart out, temporarily, I decided that a new (reconditioned) gear box might as well be fitted; this is because Buddy, for the last couple of days, has been jumping out of fourth gear, making driving a bit of a pain in the butt. So guys, good news!!!! ‘Buddy and Me’ will definitely be back “On the road again” on Monday morning. So until tomorrow, Thursday the 1st of October, when I visit Buddy in surgery, keep well, keep your feet on the ground but reach real far into the skies for the stars. Buddy and my wish is to keep all children safe.

Caring regards from a very sick Buddy – and Me (Steve Heath)
steve@buddyandme.co.za


Mon
28
Sep '09

Day 53 – 57: Wednesday to Sunday, 23 – 27 September 2009

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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Wednesday dawned a lovely day but arrived with problems for me and Buddy. After loading all my stuff and jumping eagerly into Buddy, I turned the key in the ignition and instead of the key stopping where it is supposed to stop and the engine starting, the key clicked and carried on turning in a full circle and Buddy would not start. I removed the key and tried again, this time the engine started. Carlo (Round Table Groblersdal) arrived to take me to say goodbye to Jaco and when I told him what had happened, he switched off the engine and put his hand underneath the dashboard and checked out the wiring. Unfortunately because of the bonnet having been sealed against rain, we could not access the rear of the ignition. He turned the key and it once again rotated in a full circle, then he turned it the other way, anti-clockwise and there was a loud horrible grating sound. He turned it clockwise again and the engine started.

After a brief stop at Jaco’s surgery to thank him for his tremendous hospitality during my brief visit to Groblersdal, I headed out for Middleburg – non stop – I was too scared to stop and switch Buddy off in case I couldn’t get him started again. I arrived at the Middleburg Beares store and on stopping outside could not get Buddy to switch off, the key just kept going around in a full circle. I called the store manager, Dewet Holtzhausen and explained the problem and gave him the sad news that I would have to miss the store and head straight back to Germiston to sort out the ignition problem.

On arriving in Germiston at 2:30 in the afternoon, I headed straight for the spares shop and bought a new and ‘better’ ignition. Over the weekend, with Richard’s help (that’s May’s son) we fitted the new ignition, and removed the carburettor and fitted spacers (washers) onto Buddy’s generator to stop the fan rubbing against the engine cowling. On removing the carburettor I discovered that the rear bolt holding the carb to the manifold had snapped inside the body of the carb and so this created another problem. So to all of those who think that this project of mine is a walk in the park – magic trip – just driving around the countryside – you’re wrong. After sorting out the problem of the snapped off bolt with the help of Dave from the Hardware Boys hardware store in Lambton Germiston, together with the help of some magic Q Bond glue – amazing stuff – everything was put back in place by Sunday afternoon and Buddy started, but alas my troubles were not over so easily.

When I turned the ignition, I heard a soft grating sound, like metal rubbing on metal. I believed this to be a starter motor problem which had been caused when the ignition key had been turned the wrong way (anti-clockwise) and so asked my brother-in-law Richard of RAD Auto Electrical in Germiston to try and obtain a new starter motor for me so that, should I need it, I could pop through from the Bethal/Secunda area where I will be for the next five days and fit it quickly. So that was all the drama and work which Buddy inflicted on me during the weekend.

Fortunately not the entire weekend was spent worrying and working on Buddy. Saturday night was a great night and May and I spent the evening with her family celebrating her niece, Bianca’s 21st birthday. This was a bash of note and I can’t remember when I last danced so much. I had perspiration pouring off me and at one point I felt like I had had a shower. But a great time was had by all.

Bianca’s 21st

Bianca’s 21st – Bianca and me

Bianca and me

Lee-Ann, May & Richard

Lee-Ann, May & Richard

May & me

May & me

Tinika, Jessica & Kayla

Tinika, Jessica & Kayla

The birthday girl – Bianca and May

The birthday girl – Bianca and May

During the week-end, I read an interesting article in which the Commissioner of Police gave an instruction to the members of the police force to “Shoot to kill” when facing a criminal and situation which threatens to endanger their lives. I found this to be extremely contradictory when considering the fact that the new firearm laws strictly prohibit a firearm owner from using his/her firearm unless it can be proven beyond any shadow of a doubt that his or her life is directly in danger. Secondly, I am acquainted with many police officers and believe me, I know many firearm owners who are far more capable of using a firearm than most of the police I have met, and I shudder to think what the consequences of one of these police officers firing their guns off randomly in a public place would be? But my point is that the police have been given an instruction to “Shoot to kill” but you and I are still forbidden to use a firearm unless “We can prove that our life was in danger”. The fact that an intruder enters my house in the middle of the night and the fact that we have situations occurring every night in which men are being tied up and then killed and woman raped, appears to be beside the point.

And while on that note, I heard on Sunday night ‘Carte Blanche’ how an elderly lady was tied up, placed in a wardrobe and the wardrobe was set alight. She was burnt to death in an absolutely horrific manner. Now can someone please tell me if this is a case of ‘house breaking’ or is this a case of extreme racism and hatred? Secondly, if the old lady’s husband had confronted the ‘intruder’ in the passage could he have shot the piece of garbage dead or would he first have to be able to prove that their lives were in danger? I would dearly like our esteemed Commissioner of Police to answer this one.

Okay so the week-end is over, tomorrow morning early I will be heading out back in the direction of Belfast and then to Middleburg where I will be spending the evening with Herman Geldenhuis of the Middleburg Round Table. So until tomorrow, stay safe.

Caring regards from
Buddy and Me (Steve Heath)
steve@buddyandme.co.za


Wed
23
Sep '09

Day 52: Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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Well after a magic sleep in my ‘Grandma’s big feather bed’ – actually Franna calls it the “banana bed”, you will have to ask him why he calls it that (contact him through Round table Kameeldoring Club 92 – Mokopane), I was up at 6:15, showered, a cup of coffee in my tank, turned down Nicolene’s kind offer of breakfast, thanked the van Rensburg family for their kind hospitality and friendship and was on the road to Groblersdal at 7:30. Fortunately the overcast and cold weather is now behind me and the day had dawned a beautiful warm sunny day. Soon after leaving the mountains and hills of Mokopane behind, the landscape flattened out and became as flat as a pancake. I missed the turn off to the N11 to Roedtan and Groblersdal and ended up having to go through to Mookgopong, previously known as Naboomspruit. This little extra piece of road added about 30 kilometres to my journey to Groblersdal but it was a good road and Buddy enjoyed the flat countryside, as did I. Where the land has been cultivated, ploughed and ready for planting, I could see for kilometres in all directions. Where it wasn’t there were the usual thorn trees and shrubs mostly populated by game farms.

I was stopped three times by traffic cops mostly just curious to look at and admire Buddy, hell who am I, just Buddy’s driver, but on the road Buddy is the super star, he attracts attention from other motorists and everyone we pass who wave and shout greetings. I did manage to sneak passed three sets of traffic cops without being stopped but on passing they suddenly saw us and just waved. During the drive Buddy started a new trick. Every time I put Buddy into 4th gear he would jump out of gear, so now another problem! Later in the afternoon when I spoke to Bev Whishart, Marketing Assistant at Beares Head Office in Pinetown, she suggested that perhaps Buddy was playing up because he is actually a she and is rebelling against the fact that her name is Buddy and not ???, please help me out here!! When I had stopped outside the Beares store I discovered that Buddy’s new ignition I had fitted just prior to starting the project, turned a full circle and wouldn’t switch off! So Bev, I have being giving your suggestion a lot of thought!

At the Beares store I got to meet an extremely interesting lady by the name of Corrie Ludwig who is a social worker and who has a Master’s degree in the subject. She gave me a run down on the latest initiative implemented by the government which if applied and managed properly will. I believe, make a huge difference in the outcome of child rape judicial cases and hopefully increase the pathetic conviction rate of around 4% dramatically. She has promised to e-mail me the details she presented to me soon and so I would rather wait until I receive them before I go into any more detail regarding this particular initiative. Corrie I know you are going on leave soon so you either have to do the e-mail before you go or take your laptop with and do it while you are on leave, everyone is waiting in anticipation to hear the good news!

Groblersdal staff

Beares Groblersdal staff

A large group of young girls arrived in the store shouting and screaming “Hello Bobbi Bear” and all proceeded to give me a hug and take photos, hell I felt like a visiting rock star called ‘Bobbi Bear’, photos were taken with them clambering all over Buddy, one young lady stood on my newly designed GPS unit bracket and proceeded to break it off; more work for later. Then Corrie and I headed off for the Groblersdal Primary School where we were invited to address the 500 odd kids there.

Crazy bunch of girls at Beares store

Crazy bunch of girls at Beares store

The talk went extremely well and I think the message passed by Corrie and I definitely got through to the kids who were very tentative and responded excitedly to every question that was posed to them.

Talk at the Groblersdal Primary School

When it was time to leave a large group of kids joined us where Buddy was parked resting in the shade of a tree and I had to get a picture of a couple of kids who were dressed in traditional clothing and of course, Emmah from Beares who had shown me the way to the school, waving to everyone along the way like she was visiting Royalty, joined in.

Young girls in traditional dress

Young girls in traditional dress

Then a short visit was made to meet the staff of Groblersdal Lubners where I met up with that amazing lady, Rosa De Waal who had, when she was manager of the Beares store in Groblersdal on my last visit, literally closed the streets of Groblersdal on my arrival.

Lubners staff Groblersdal

Lubners staff Groblersdal

By now it was already nearing 3 o’clock and I had some urgent work to do on Buddy, so I contacted Carel of the Groblersdal, actually Loskop Dam Round Table division, who told me that they had arranged accommodation for me at the ‘LekkerBreek Guest House’, a short way out of town. There I was met by Round Table Chairman Carlo Fourie who after showing me around left to complete his day’s work but promised to meet up with me later and invited me to join him for a bite to eat this evening.

The evening turned out to be a really great one and we were accompanied by Jaco van Straaten and his wife Louisa. Jaco is the past President of ARTSA (The Association of Round Tables of Southern Africa) in other words a ‘larney of note’ in Round Table circles. He is also a man and character of note and the stories that poured out of this man during the evening were amazing, oh and while on that subject Tim, up in Polokwane, I heard some really good stories about you?

Me, being ‘pinned’ by Carlo

Me, being ‘pinned’ by Carlo

Me, being presented with the Loskop Round Table ‘plate and mug’

Me, being presented with the Loskop Round Table ‘plate and mug’

And so ended my evening in Groblersdal, once again a late one, midnight, oh boy can these Tablers party!

Carlo with white shirt, Jaco between us, Louisa seated

Carlo with white shirt, Jaco between us, Louisa seated

So tomorrow (Wednesday 23rd September) I head for Middleburg, and because Thursday is a public holiday I will be heading for home, as in real home, and will be attending May’s niece, Bianca’s 21st Birthday on Saturday. Monday morning I will be returning to the road and will be in Belfast at the Beares store and Tuesday I will be in Witbank at both the Beares and Lubners stores. So to the guys of Loskop Round Table, thank you for arranging my terrific accommodation at the LekkerBreek Guest House which, believe me, is a really magic place, and to Carlo, Jaco and Louisa, thank you for the absolutely fantastic evening, oh Louisa you were right, that sea food platter was fantastic.

Lekkerbreek contact details: lbgh@ananzi.co.za

So with that, I wish you a good night, and until I write again, stay safe.

Caring regards
Buddy and Me (Steve Heath)
steve@buddyandme.co.za


Mon
21
Sep '09

Day 51: Monday, 21 September 2009

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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So the weekend has come and gone. I must say it was a pretty good one apart from the fact that the 20 – 30 dogs held at the Police Dog Unit across the road from the entrance to the Game Reserve where I was camping were really a pain in the proverbial XXX (gat). One would start barking and then all of them would join in and this occurred at regular half hour intervals all through the night and day. But then again I suppose you can’t really blame them because the members of the police force there were firing off some kind of grenades every now and again and this continued until 1am this morning. They were having a party there and the noise could be heard from my camp site. The guys camping a short way away from me were on the verge of going over and giving the cops a piece of their mind, but one guy persuaded them not to believing that they could end up in more trouble than the cops.

The cold, cloudy weather which arrived in Polokwane on Saturday morning continued this morning and stayed with me to Mokopane (Potgietersrus as some of the road signs show it) but by 1:30 this afternoon it cleared and warmed up considerably. I had a really laid back leisurely drive and Buddy purred along like a pussy cat; he actually prefers being compared to a Lion, so I won’t tell him my description otherwise he’ll start giving me problems again. Since starting the project, and in fact it occurred many times while I was on the other project/campaign as well, I cannot believe how many ill-mannered drivers we have on our South African roads and these are not restricted or limited to any particular region, race or sex, they exist from areas right across the country, men and woman who when you pull over to the extreme left side of the road, sometimes when there is only a very narrow strip of yellow curb and you increase the risk of picking up a puncture or worse, they drive past without so much as a raised hand or flash of indicator lights to thank you. So to all those inconsiderate ill-mannered drivers, learn some manners and at least thank those who move over to allow you passed, it’s the least you can do, so if the shoe fits, wear it.

On arriving at the Lubners store, the store manager Tinus v/d Westhuizen contacted a captain in the CFS (Child Protection Unit) who immediately agreed to meet with me. So I jumped into Buddy and headed for the Police Station where I met a lady Captain of note. Captain Mapuluhela proved to be yet another dedicated police officer who has definitely earned my respect. We had an hour long discussion on the child rape situation in the Mokopane district as well as the rest of the country and she confirmed that child rape in the area is very bad but she is confident that they are on the right track. She believes that the best thing that the Provincial Commissioner did when the rest of the country dismantled the Child Protection Unit, which I might add she believes was a very good unit and should have been left alone to continue with the brilliant work it was doing, was to maintain the unit as it was and so when the new FCS unit was announced and all the problems were experienced with establishing the new infrastructure this region was already established. The unit in Mokopane which is a cluster control centre for seven satellite stations in the region has 10 members who investigate cases in an extremely large geographical area. I raised the point which has been raised by every policeman linked to the FCS to date and that is the situation with regard to the number of vehicles the various units have available to investigate large numbers of cases in extremely large areas. She confirmed that they have 4 vehicles available but also confirmed that she has been promised more, it’s just a question of when the vehicles will arrive. I just hope it won’t be when the existing vehicles have completed their usable life period and so they will still be stuck with only four vehicles.

According to the good Captain, the police are blamed by the community every time a suspect is released on bail and this creates nasty situations with the community invariably taking the law into their own hands resulting in yet more crimes which have to be investigated by the police. She believes that the courts should not be granting bail to suspects involved in child rape cases, particularly because invariably it results in the child or the parent being intimidated which makes it very difficult to obtain a conviction. Then she raised the point that is closest to my heart, the child offenders in child rape cases. She believes that “Child offenders must be held responsible for their actions and that State facilities must be provided where, no matter what the child’s age is, they can be held there during the investigation and can be sentenced to imprisonment there on conviction”. This is music to my ears! She told me of an incident in which she had arrested a 14 year-old boy for the rape of an 8 year-old girl. He was not detained in any cell and was in fact taken straight to the court for the court’s decision on the matter. When the case was called the magistrate actually shouted at her asking “Who is the inconsiderate police officer who arrested this young boy” she was reprimanded in such a way that she was absolutely embarrassed, and the boy was subsequently released into his parents’ care. Now this is what really annoys me, it was as a result of bad parenting that the little shxxt raped and destroyed a little girl’s life and then the court sends him straight back to the same incompetent parent. She also raised the point that because children are not being held responsible for the crimes they are committing, syndicates are using them to commit other crimes such as house breaking and robberies. When arrested and convicted the child receives no more than a smack on the hand, actually not even that, and is released and when his peers and buddies see that he got away with it they follow suit and do the same thing. According to the Captain, if the Government and ‘powers that be’ do not wake up and change the situation fast this country is going to slump into a very bad place. Hell, I thought we were there already but according to her it’s going to get much worse, so come on guys in Government, you are always saying that “The people have spoken” when it comes to elections and you are voted into power so listen to them when they speak out about the terrible situation of child rape in our country. Another fantastic suggestion she had is to publicise on a daily basis the names of every individual convicted, identify the crimes they were convicted of and publish the sentence past down by the court, in other words “Name and Shame them”. The only thing I would add of course is to print the names of child rapists in bold. By doing this she believes that individuals will think again before committing crime of any nature, I agree entirely! She also believes that the parole board is creating major problems in that the convicted prisoner should remain in jail to serve the full sentence passed down by the courts, She agrees with Reverend Ramoba who I spoke to on Friday in Polokwane and who believes that our ‘democracy’ is far too lenient on criminals and that a much tougher stance should be taken.

The other topic she raised was the fact that this area does not have any support structure, or rather any to talk about, for rape victims and that the victim has to suffer the humiliation of a crowded police station to report the matter and then be subjected to the harrowing experiencing of going to a government hospital, be forced to sit or stand in a crowded casualty room waiting for an examination to be carried out by a doctor who is over worked and has not an ounce of sympathy for the victim. I can only imagine what I would feel like as a father whose little child has been raped and then exposed to this kind of treatment? After I had explained the functions of GRIP in Nelspruit and the greater Mpumalanga region and the incredible success they have achieved because of it, she looked at me in wonder and said “Now that’s what we need”. So to Captain Mapuluhela, I thank you for the time you gave me to talk to you, I thoroughly enjoyed our talk and for the fantastic opinions and suggestions you shared with me. I certainly hope all your wishes for a ‘just system’ which will stop our children from being raped and which will, I’m sure, reduce crime in general and make your and your fellow police officers’ lives an easier one. So keep up the great work you are doing and I hope you stay as motivated as you are today.

Lubners staff, Mokopane (Potties). Manager Tinus v/d Westhuizen on extreme left and Regional manager Gerrit Pretorius right at the back

Lubners staff, Mokopane (Potties). Manager Tinus v/d Westhuizen on extreme left and Regional manager Gerrit Pretorius right at the back

Following this tremendous interview I spent sometime at the Lubners store running the various points the Captain had made over in my mind and came up with the conclusion “She’s good!” I had a brief chat with the Lubners staff and then went for a haircut, so you will see the new look Steve tomorrow in the photo with the Bears staff in Groblersdal!

At 4:30 Franna van Rensburg of the Kameeldoring (Mokopane/Potgietersrus) Round Table phoned to say he had arrived home and gave Ryno Kruger of the Lubners store directions to his house and I followed Ryno to Franna’s house where I met his wife Nicolene and two and a half year–old daughter Kara. After a magic supper and chat I have now retired to my room, a really lovely place, I’m even sleeping in a hundred year old bed which reminds me of my grandmothers feather bed, only much grander, so I intend sleeping like a log with no 30 odd dogs barking and policemen partying, firing off grenades. So good night, keep well.

Me being pinned with yet another Round Table lapel pin. Oh ja, check out the new haircut!

Me being pinned with yet another Round Table lapel pin. Oh ja, check out the new haircut!

Franna, Nicolene and Kara

Franna, Nicolene and Kara

Caring regards from
Buddy and Me (Steve Heath)
steve@buddyandme.co.za


Mon
21
Sep '09

Day 49 and 50: Saturday and Sunday, 19-20 September 2009

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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Well the weekend proved to be a relaxing one here at the Polokwane Game reserve. Unfortunately the lady at the gate of the game reserve thought that, because I was driving in an “open strange little car” and because they have White Rhino in the park, it might be too dangerous for me to go into the game reserve so I had to sit at the fence and hope some game came past for me to photograph, but alas the ‘game’ did not play the game, sorry for the pun but I thought it was good. But as you can see from the picture below the peacocks thought I was a great guest and hung around my camp for the entire weekend; maybe it was because I ended up feeding them two whole packets of Provita Biscuits, eventually they were all eating out of my hand.

Peacocks and camp site

But to start with Saturday morning I slept in the latest that I have ever slept in and only woke at 7am when May phoned and woke me with a skrik! Then I went back to sleep because I could not hear Tim moving around. But eventually his phone alarm, which plays some really soothing piano wake up music, got me up and after a shower, coffee and a chat we headed for the Farm Yard where we met up with Jess and enjoyed a magic breakfast – thanks for that Tim it really set me up for the day.

After setting up camp I headed for the ‘Bosveld pub’ a short distance from the game reserve and watched, first the Lions get a thumping from the Griquas (soooorry Gail but shxxt happens when your team can’t play rugby) then watched the SHARKS give the Cheetahs a lesson in the game of rugby.

The crazy bunch from the ‘Bosveld pub’ Bush Veld Pub

The crazy bunch from the ‘Bosveld pub’ Bush Veld Pub

As you can imagine the evening ‘drew on a bit’ and I only got back to my camp quite late!
Sunday dawned a very overcast and cold morning, so as you can imagine I slept in once again and only surfaced at 7:30 and that was because my system was crying out for coffee. Then it was to work. I was given a universal holder for my GPS by Gaston in Germiston but unfortunately due to all the vibrations and shaking created by Buddy’s incredibly solid suspension, the bracket broke. So this morning I had to redesign a new one which took some master crafting but the end result was pretty good, even if I say so myself, well actually Buddy agrees.

New GPS bracket

New GPS bracket

After catching up with my blog and e-mails I started cooking a mean chicken curry. I got my hands on an incredible curry mix from an Indian shop in Tzaneen and so, as they say in Afrikaans, “Maagies vol oegies toe” (stomach full eyes must close) – but first I will show you the ingredients for a good chicken curry.

Curry ingredients

Curry ingredients

So with that it’s ‘maagies vol, oegies toe’. Good night, God bless, please keep all the children safe. E-mail me with your opinions.

Caring regards from
Buddy and Me (Steve Heath)
steve@buddyandme.co.za


Mon
21
Sep '09

Day 48: Friday, 18 September 2009

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Categories: Buddy and Me

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This morning, after saying good bye and thanking Ronél for her kind hospitality and friendship, I followed Jaco to the Beares store where I caught up with e-mails and other ‘admin’ functions, I was sitting at ’my’ desk busy typing away on my computer when a guy approached me and introduced himself as Bernie Cameron. He asked if that was my buggy parked outside and when I said yes he first asked if I perhaps had a spare engine for him and then went on to explain that he had a buggy which has a 1400 Nissan engine in it which has been giving him endless trouble because of the heat in Musina. I have been told by many people that I should let Buddy undergo a heart transplant and change it to a Nissan 1400, but Bernie convinced me not to and says that as soon as I drive in hot conditions, unless I have a really good cooling system, I will experience overheating problems. So Buddy, rest at ease my friend, you will not be undergoing major surgery in the near future, especially of a heart transplant nature. While he was looking over Buddy, I mentioned the problem I was experiencing with the rattling noise coming from the engine covering and generator fan. He pulled out some spanners from his bakkie and re-adjusted the metal belt around the generator and the noise went away. I told him what Gavin had said about the fan blade possibly being possibly and he said he did not think this was the problem and that if I fitted washers onto the screws which hold the generator to the engine cowling this would move the fan off the cowling and solve the problem. So guess what I will be doing this week-end? Then it was time to say goodbye to the friendly Beares staff in Musina.

Beares staff, Musina. Jaco on extreme left

Beares staff, Musina. Jaco on extreme left

The drive from Musina back to Louis Trichardt or Makhado or whatever you want to call it, all 100 kilometres of it, was a really hot one with the road coursing its way through hilly countryside. As I crested the Soutpansberg mountain range, you know that ‘mountain’ that Jerry of the Round Table in Louis Trichardt always referred to, the temperature dropped suddenly from 34.2 degrees C to 25.6 degrees C and this was over a distance of about 150 metres. But soon after passing through Louis Trichardt the temperature picked up again and it returned to hang around the 34/35 degree mark all the way to Polokwane. From Louis Trichardt to Polokwane which is a distance of 100 kilometres, the countryside is flat and one can see for kilometres in all directions.

I turned off and took the short drive (about 800 meters off the N1) to the site of the monument that marks the latitude of the Tropic of Capricorn. I must say that although attempts have been made to make the site interesting by erecting buildings which house, I presume, information on the site – I say presume because it was all locked up – the actual site on which the pillar is built is in a terrible state and if they want to attract tourists to this site I think serious consideration must be made to cleaning the site up. While looking at it I couldn’t help but think of the journey which that amazing ‘old’ South African adventurer Kingsley Holgate made with his family when they circumnavigated the earth while travelling along the Tropic of Capricorn and if you haven’t read his book on the journey you should seriously consider getting a copy and reading it.

Tropic of Capricorn site marker

Tropic of Capricorn site marker

I entered the town/city of Polokwane (or Pietersburg as the inhabitants of the place still insist on calling it (I think it will take a complete generation before the name change is accepted), and located the Beares store. The store manager, Pieter Du Preez had arranged for a Captain from the local police, Captain Mailumula and Reverend Justice Ramoba from the community church in Polokwane to come and talk to me about the child rape situation in Polokwane. This proved to be an interesting interview and I learnt that these two gentlemen are involved in setting up an organisation which will provide victims of rape with care centres pretty much like GRIP are doing in Mpumalanga and the greater Nelspruit area. It’s really encouraging to see that individuals like these two men have identified the fact that this type of facility is urgently needed in the Polokwane area. They both confirmed that child rape is rife in the area and that something drastic needs to be done to stop it. When asked what the Captain thought was needed to stop it, his immediate reaction was, “The penalty for raping a child should be the minimum of 50 years imprisonment without the option of parole or release for whatever reason”. Captain, my sentiments exactly! The Reverend Ramoba also agreed and added that he believes that “Our democracy is far too lenient on criminals and child rapists in particular”, and added that “The parole board is to blame and that the term of imprisonment should be as stipulated by the court, because if the parole board is going to over-rule the court and determine the period, the convicted felon is going to stay in court. Why are the magistrates and judges paid such high salaries to pass down sentences if the parole board is going to determine how long the prisoner stays in prison?” This was music to my ears, a very good question! The Reverend also believes that a national referendum should be held in order to establish what the people think or should be done to stop child rape. He explained that a national referendum was the major influencing factor in the changing of the status quo with the previous government so why shouldn’t the people decide whether the death penalty should be returned for child rapists or 45 years without parole should be applied. I really like this man.

My two guests

My two guests

The staff and kids from a ‘Polokwane Home for Abused and Abandoned Children’ arrived at the store soon after my arrival and I was given the opportunity to chat to them, a really wonderful bunch of kids and their house mothers.

Kids and house mothers in the store and with Buddy

Kids and house mothers in the store and with Buddy

Beares staff Polokwane

Beares staff Polokwane

Then Tim Baber of Polokwane Round Table – Impala 157 club – arrived to take me to his ‘bachelor’ pad where I spent the evening. We were later joined by his lovely girlfriend Jess who arrived in the country a month ago from England and was specially imported by Tim who, when she had left to return to England three years ago after a visit to South Africa, was told by Tim “I’m going to marry you” so this wasn’t a proposal, it was a statement of fact! We were also joined by Tabler Danny Melenas and his character of note wife, Nadia. Between Tim’s culinary expertises with the ‘cob’ I think it’s called and Jess’s pure magic touch with food, they produced an outstanding meal, so thanks guys, your friendship and hospitality is really appreciated.

Me being ‘pinned’ by Danny, notice the new jacket with all my past Round Table lapel pins

Me being ‘pinned’ by Danny, notice the new jacket with all my past Round Table lapel pins

Round Table Impala 157 representatives from left Tim, Jess, Nadia and Danny

Round Table Impala 157 representatives from left Tim, Jess, Nadia and Danny

And so ended my night with Tim and his friends. Thanks guys it was a great evening.
So tomorrow I will be heading for the Polokwane Game Reserve where I will be camping and catching up with some work such as returning e-mails, which I am being slated for not doing, and hopefully get Buddy’s generator clanking sound sorted out. So until Monday when I will be heading for Mokopane or Potgietersrus as it is formerly known, keep well, keep the e-mails coming in, it’s always good to hear from everyone on their opinions of what should be done to stop child rape, or general comments on the subject.

Caring regards from
Buddy and Me (Steve Heath)
steve@buddyandme.co.za


Fri
18
Sep '09

Day 47: Thursday, 17 September 2009

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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After saying goodbye to Karien and thanking her for her kind hospitality and friendship (she had to leave early for work – ja believe it or not some people actually have proper jobs to go to during the day), Jerry took me through to Gavin at the local VW outlet who is very au fait with the Beetle engine and he explained that the noise being generated from Buddy’s generator sounds as if it’s caused by a loose fan blade. He also explained that if one of these blades breaks off I will have a major problem as it could, and possibly would, cause Buddy to suffer a major heart attack or stroke! (seize his engine). This was not comforting news and while driving to Musina this problem was constantly on my mind.

This problem caused me to listen constantly to Buddy’s engine and while driving up and down the truly beautiful mountain passes on the road to Musina, or Zimpopo as Jerry refers to it as because of the number of Zimbabweans living there, I missed most of the magnificent scenery which included the two Hendrik Verwoed tunnels, but I consoled myself that I will be returning on the same road tomorrow when I head for Polokwane (Pietersburg). Soon after passing through the Baobab Toll Plaza, I encountered my first decent Baobab tree. I had seen a few over the previous few kilometres but they were small ones and were quite far off the road, so when I saw this massive one right on the side of the road I couldn’t help stopping to photograph Buddy next to it.

Baobab tree

Baobab tree

I arrived in Musina and discovered that this town had boomed in growth since I was here last, three years ago. I had been extremely impressed with the cleanliness of Phalaborwa and could fully appreciate the fact that the town had been awarded the prize as the cleanest and neatest town in South Africa for two years in a row and this went for Tzaneen as well, both truly lovely towns. Louis Trichardt was also clean but just hanging in there. Musina, although relatively clean, is a typical bustling, over-crowded town and like Piet Retief the roads are completely destroyed by the continual flow of heavy trucks through its main streets. I was told that due to the massive influx of Zimbabweans, the population is presently three times more than what the infrastructure was designed for; this is obviously creating a major problem in the town. One thing I omitted to tell you, is that in Louis Trichardt, I was told by Jerry (not as in Springer) the biggest traffic jam to be found is at the KFC drive through on a Friday evening, and when witnessing the absolute chaos in the main street of Musina I couldn’t help but think of the relative peace in Louis Trichardt.

When I pulled up outside the Beares store I was met by the manager, Jaco Pieterse, who introduced me to his friendly staff and then, because I was almost two hour earlier than scheduled to arrive, I spent some time catching up on a few administration functions I am saddled with on this project, like responding to e-mails etc. Then my guests started arriving and these included an inspector from a police unit I had no idea existed, staff from a local NGO called ‘Save the Children UK-SA division’, the local newspaper representative and the main stars of the day, a large group of kids from the ‘Save the Children UK-SA division’.

The police officer from the local police station who once again proved to me that there are some really dedicated police officers in the force was Inspector PC Mudau. He explained that he was a member of the ‘Social Crime Prevention Unit’ and their function was to co-ordinate the route a victim of domestic violence or rape has to follow when reporting an incident and this includes the actual reporting of the crime as well as the subsequent route the victim has to follow through the hospital and the court systems. To me it sounded pretty much like the role GRIP play, you know, that amazing NGO group in Nelspruit and greater Mpumalanga region I mentioned a few days ago. I think the big difference is that the facilities provided by GRIP are far superior to those provided by the police and GRIP removed the victim from the unsavoury environment of the police station as well as the crowded environment of the hospital. But I must admit that, in all my interviews with police around the country, I have never been informed of this unit and although it is supposed to operate on a national basis wonder if it is actually a functioning unit everywhere else. I am definitely going to be pursuing this avenue of research.
I asked the good inspector what he thought was needed to be done to stop the child rape which is running through our country and after a little thought he said:

  • Parents are too negligent and women must learn not to leave their children alone with men, like fathers, uncles, grandfathers, etc
  • There must be more awareness campaigns to teach the children not to talk to strangers

I obviously could not help but comment on his suggestions and raised the following points.

  • I as a father would be pretty pi…d off if my wife would not allow me to spend quality, alone time with my child
  • My father (my children’s grandfather) I think would have felt the same as me
  • Does that mean that in the situation of a divorce the father cannot ever be awarded custody of his child?
  • With regard to his awareness campaigns, by far the majority of child rapes taking place are perpetrated by family members and secondly we are experiencing 580 child rape cases every day so do we have the time to enter into a lengthy awareness campaign, in fact while typing up this blog probably 50 kids were raped

After giving it some thought he agreed and when I presented my suggestions to stop rape he agreed that drastic measures were definitely needed to curb the situation. My suggestions were:

  • The government has to change its approach to the prison situation and change from the current ‘Rehabilitation’ process to it being a deterrent punishment, as in Namibia and Botswana
  • The court system has to change to ensure that child rape cases are finalised much faster and that properly trained and experienced prosecutors are employed to be able to counter the expert defence council the State provides for the rapists
  • The Social Welfare must be the financially strongest department in the government system to be able to provide top quality support to the families in situations where fathers have been arrested and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment for having raped their child

After listening to my suggestion he nodded vigorously and agreed whole heartedly that these methods would change the status quo and that these methods should be implemented immediately, so to government, come on guys you can do it, just get things moving.

Inspector PC Mudau explained that he is passionate about his role in assisting victims of rape, and in particular child rape which, because of the over crowding in the area due to the influx of Zimbabweans, is rampant and I was amazed to hear that he is actually on leave and made a special effort to come in to meet me. Well done Inspector and thank you, it was a great pleasure and honour for me to meet you, keep up the good work and I hope I get to meet other Inspector Mudau’s on my travels.

The other people I met were Percy, Shoomani and Rogers from ‘Save the Children UK, who explained that they have three branches in South Africa, this one in Musina, one in Pretoria and one in the Free State. Their function is to co-ordinate the services provided by various ‘partners’ or organisations in the area who provide support for rape and victims of domestic violence.

Then came the kids from ‘Save the Children UK”. This was a friendly bunch that Anna, the Beares Customer Credit Manager along with the help of the other staff, tried desperately to teach to dance, but I think these little kids taught her and her colleagues a thing or two.

The kids from ‘Save the Children UK’

I took a drive out to Beit Bridge border post but could not get close because of the chaos caused by the hundreds of trucks trying to cross the border into Zimbabwe.

The chaos at Beit Bridge

The chaos at Beit Bridge

Finally at 5 o’clock my day came to an end, well not quite I still had my blog to do. Jaco, the Beares store manager insisted that I spend the evening with him and his lovely wife Ronél and so I followed him home where immediately on arriving I was handed an ice cold frosty, it was still blistering hot, the temperature had reached a mind boggling 42 degrees in the afternoon and even at 5:30pm it was still extremely hot so the beers went down very well. When Ronél arrived home we jumped into the 4X4 open bakkie and took a drive out of town and followed the Zimbabwean border fence which runs parallel with the Limpopo River. I don’t know if you can see the actual fence because it was dark but if you click on the picture it opens up big and makes it clearer.

Zim border fence

Zim border fence

We arrived ‘home’ and while I spent some cooling off time in the pool, with a cold frosty of course, Jaco lit the fire and Ronél prepared the meat and sandwiches with cheese, tomato and onions which were later put on the braai grid to toast and turned out deliciously. Now I love snails, and have had many really exquisite dishes of this delicacy prepared for me in many different ways, but Ronel made us snails which outclassed all the previous attempts to prepare this dish I have ever experienced. So Ronél, pack your bags my girl, you are joining me for the duration of this project and all your function will be is to produce that amazing dish of snails for me every evening.

Roné and Jaco, sorry guys please excuse that dirty dish cloth hanging from the roof of the lapa behind them

Roné and Jaco, sorry guys please excuse that dirty dish cloth hanging from the roof of the lapa behind them

So that brought an end to my day in Musina. Obviously we spent some time reducing the number of frosties which had mysteriously gathered in the fridge and chatted about the project and Jaco and Ronéls life with their two kids in Musina where, according to both of them, they will one day retire very old people. So to these amazingly friendly people, you have Buddy and my eternal thanks for your friendship and hospitality and I hope to be able to host you on my yacht on Lake Malawi one day soon.

So to everyone else reading this blog, keep your feet on the ground but reach high for the sky.

Caring regards from
Buddy and Me (Steve Heath)
steve@buddyandme.co.za


Fri
18
Sep '09

Day 46: Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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My day today started off by getting up early – 6am – because Dale (Round Table Tzaneen) and I had a late night chatting while cooling off in the warm mountain air with a few more frosties than originally planned. This resulted in my having to get up early to do the blog for yesterday. I only had to be in Louis Trichardt or Makhado as it is sometimes known, at 1pm so I was hoping to have sometime off to look around the area and then take a slow drive out to Louis Trichardt. But I got away at 10:15am and still enjoyed a leisurely drive through still amazingly beautiful countryside. The only problem, and I think it is going to be for sometime to come, is this infernal insistence of the government and municipalities to change the names of towns and streets, etc. If they did it all in the beginning and got it over with then perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad but the way it is being done is creating chaos. I bought a brand new, and what was supposed to be a very jacked up, Touring Atlas on South Africa, which by the way was damned expensive, when I left Jo’burg to start this project, and there are still places whose names have changed since the printing of the atlas, so God help the tourists and hundreds of thousands of people who will be visiting South Africa next year.

Before I carry on with today’s events, I just want to go back a little to an interview I had yesterday morning with a lovely lady I met on my arrival at the Beares store in Tzaneen. Her name is Sjandre Terblanche (and yes that is the correct spelling of her name – it is pronounced like the name Juandré). She is with an NGO called FAMSA (Family and Marriage Society of South Africa). We had a lengthy chat about the child rape situation in the country and in particular the situation where the fathers and uncles are the culprits, and the impact of this on the family should it be reported and the ‘head of the house’ is sent to prison. She agreed on the fact that the Social Welfare needs to be strengthened financially for it to be able to provide support in these instances and also agreed that this would definitely contribute to a reduction in the number of child rape cases if it could be achieved. The other point of contention I have come up against recently, and I for one cannot decide whether it’s a good thing or not, is the issue I mentioned the other day regarding the law making it compulsory for anyone who is told by a child or mentally disabled person that she or he has been raped to report it to the police. It has been law in Botswana and Namibia for a number of years now and has proved to be the biggest contributing factor in reducing child rape in these countries. But after listening to a few NGO people who have raised a couple of points which cause this law to be problematic for them (one being they feel that they are betraying the child’s trust) I am at a loss as to whether it should be law or not. I must admit that I personally believe it should stand and I have always lobbied for that particular piece of legislation, but now having been given ‘food for thought’ by the ladies associated with NGO’s dealing with this problem, I am having second thoughts, so please e-mail me your thoughts on the matter, I would really appreciate them.

So back to today’s events and as I was saying, the drive through the mountain passes was great. I passed through the small town of Modjadji’s Kloof which according to my expensive road Atlas was Duiwelskloof, and then continued on through Soekmekaar which according to the police station in town is now called Borebeng. Then the really interesting thing happened. All the way after leaving Tzaneen I had been following the sign boards indicating the way to Makhado, about 300 metres before joining the N1 highway between Polokwane (Pietersburg) and Makhado the sign board suddenly indicates right to Louis Trichardt! And from there onwards all the sign boards reflect the name Louis Trichardt. But be that as it may, Renee Bezuidenhout, the Beares store manager in Tzaneen phoned me on my cell and said I must stop at the Elim turn off because the local traffic police were going to meet me there and escort me into town. When I arrived at the said intersection I found 5 traffic police cars waiting. I stopped, met the guys and ladies and then was told that one car would lead the way while another followed behind me and this is how we started off. Within a couple of hundred metres suddenly another police car passed me and took up station alongside the one in front and then another overtook and went ahead of these two and yet another appeared on my right side. So now I had 5 police cars with blue lights and sirens escorting me into Louis Trichardt. Every time we approached an intersection, two cars would go ahead and block the side roads and we went straight through red lights and all. When I had made the decision to use Buddy as a means of transport for the project, the main reason for the decision was to draw public attention to the project, stickers etc. well this escort certainly achieved that. I think the entire town came to a standstill and everyone was standing on the side of the road staring and waving at this crazy Beach Buggy being escorted by 5 traffic cop cars with blue lights and sirens going through the middle of their town. The reception at the Beares store arranged by Renee was something to see, absolutely amazing!

Police escort

Beares Louis Trichardt staff, manager Renee Bezuidenhout with red shirt

Beares Louis Trichardt staff, manager Renee Bezuidenhout with red shirt

Waiting for me were a number of people associated with child rape, but the first to be interviewed was the reporter from the local newspaper who unfortunately had an urgent meeting to go to, so once that was out of the way, I got down to serious business. One of my guests was Captain Sadike of the SAPS in Louis Trichardt who proved to be yet another dedicated police officer. I must say I have been lucky lately in being given the opportunity to meet some really good cops and re-instate my belief that, just maybe, there is some hope in the South African Police force. Captain Sadike has been a policeman for over thirty years having started his police career in what was then ‘John Vorster Square”. At the time of his joining I was stationed in Norwood just down the road. The Captain confirmed that child rape is happening at a terrible rate in the area but he believes that the FCS (new Child Protection Unit) which, in spite of being in a bit of a mess with many indecisions as to exactly how it should function, is doing a reasonably good job. However there is still the factor of the majority of cases not being reported. My chat with him revealed that he is of the ‘old school’ and we had a lengthy chat about the present attitude in the police force compared to the old one. Today’s cops don’t seem to have the same respect for their seniors and uniform as they did in the ‘old days’ and the new breed of policeman seems to have the attitude that iIt’s just another job’ as opposed to the ‘old attitude’ of being proud to wear the police uniform.

The other interesting person I met was a man with a just as interesting name, ‘Vonk’ Cordier who is very involved with the youth league in Louis Trichardt. He co-ordinates all sorts of functions together with the church in order to keep the youth from engaging in otherwise unsavoury habits, a much needed function in today’s society.

Then came a walk through town to the CNA to buy new pens and other items needed and obviously to chat with the local community along the way. Nearly everyone I passed had seen my dramatic entrance into Louis Trichardt and so everyone I passed in the street came up to me and shook my hand saying hello and so I got into a number of conversations about the child rape situation. Once again everyone I spoke to supports the notion of a severe punishment system and the removal of child rapists from our society permanently.

At 5pm Jerry Cloete, the Louis Trichardt Round Table Chairman arrived to take me to his house where I spent the evening. Soon a group of the Round Tablers arrived and we indulged in a few cold frosties and then set off for the ‘mountain’. Now this ‘mountain’ became quite an issue with me during the day and at one stage I was concerned that I had perhaps taken a wrong road somewhere and had already arrived in Cape Town where I am only supposed to be in about 5 months. Everyone I spoke to kept referring to ‘The Mountain’ and even when Jerry called to make arrangements to meet me and during other calls to check how things were going, he kept telling me that he was ‘on the mountain’, but I later learnt that the ‘mountain’ is in fact the mountain which I will have to pass over when leaving Louis Trichardt on my way to Musina tomorrow. After Jerry’s good wife Karien arrived home and a good few frosties had been consumed we headed for, yes you guesed, ‘the mountain’ where we met up with a few other Tablers at The Mountain Inn and enjoyed a really magic evening.

Mountain Inn, lights of Louis Trichardt from Mountain Inn

Mountain Inn, lights of Louis Trichardt from Mountain Inn

Jerry in the dog box

Jerry in the dog box

Chenê - Jerry and Karien’s daughter with the massive ‘Livingstone

Chenê - Jerry and Karien’s daughter with the massive ‘Livingstone'

The Louis Trichardt Round Tablers and their wives - Jerry kneeling and Karien next to him with orange blouse

The Louis Trichardt Round Tablers and their wives - Jerry kneeling and Karien next to him with orange blouse

And so ended my day in Louis Trichardt, I’m sure you have guessed that by the time we left The Mountain Inn, the ‘day’ actually ended early this morning (Thursday 17th). So now it’s time to say goodbye until tomorrow or rather later today. So to Jerry and Karien and all the other Tablers in Louis Trichardt, who made my stay in their town such a pleasant one, a great big thank you from Buddy and me and a special thank you to the Tablers for their generous contribution to my fuel fund which after being depleted by traffic cop Reytenbach in Hazyview would have suffered a major blow, so thank you it is truly appreciated.

So good night, God bless.

Caring regards
Buddy and Me (Steve Heath)
steve@buddyandme.co.za


Wed
16
Sep '09

Day 45: Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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This morning I was up, showered and packed and ready to head out just after 7am. Pieter, Dillon and I stood chatting waiting for the time to pass so I could head for the Maroela Crisis Home where I was to meet Altea Prinsloo and her team at 8am. Deidre was still sleeping (ja Deidre, it’s great to be married to and working for the boss, né!). I’m really sorry I didn’t see you before my departure and so I will have to say it on my blog, I know you will be following my progress through the website/blog. Thank you very much for all you have done for me so far and for what you are going to do for me with regard to ensuring all the Round Tablers ahead are aware of me and Buddy and the crusade we are on and thank you and Pieter for your kind hospitality and friendship. To all the other guys and their wives of Round Table, thank you for the magic evening and keep up the good work you are doing in the Phalaborwa area for the underprivileged.

The visit to the ‘Maroela Crisis Home proved to be very interesting. Altea and her band of caregivers provide accommodation, care and support to abused woman and children in really lovely accommodation which is funded solely through fund raising and the Round Table of Phalaborwa. We had an interesting chat about the child rape situation and it appears that she agrees with many woman I have had the opportunity to talk to about the ‘new’ sexual offences act – 32 of 2007 section 54 – which states that “any person who fails to report a child rape or rape of a mentally disabled person is guilty of an offence”, and this includes parents, teachers and NGO’s. I was told by one teacher that she had been told by a policeman that if she believed that the child or mentally disabled person as the act/section provides for, had in fact not been raped, she is not bound by the act to report it. I have been through this act and I can’t find anything to substantiate this claim and as far as I’m concerned; and I hope to get legal clarity on the point soon, that anyone who is made aware of a rape of a child or mentally disabled person should report it, then it is up to the police to determine whether or not a rape had taken place.

Unfortunately many teachers and NGO’s believe that this section of the act is creating a problem with breaking the child’s trust, which the child places in the teacher or NGO/welfare worker. The other side of the coin is of course that by the child telling the teacher/NGO/welfare worker, she or he wishes them to take the matter further and by not reporting it to the authorities it is letting the child down. It’s definitely a catch 22 situation and I would really like to receive comments and opinions on this point.

I could have sat chatting to Alrea all morning but unfortunately I had to get to Tzaneen by 11am and so after thanking her and her friendly staff for allowing me the opportunity to visit their lovely facilities and to chat with them, I headed out on the road to Tzaneen. Once again the area stood up to its reputation and it proved to be a scorching hot day. The road was exactly the same as the previous day’s drive with just slight inclines and Buddy loved it. The road was also, once again, lined with game farm fences and I enjoyed spotting game throughout the drive, lots of wild boar/pig and buck – all sorts don’t ask me to identify the species they are buck!

On arriving at the filling station where I was instructed to meet the Beares giant bear and the traffic department who were going to escort me to the Beares store, I stopped, filled up with petrol and enjoyed a sausage roll and orange juice, man it was hot, 10:30am and the temperature was already 29.7 degrees C. The traffic department couldn’t make it so the giant bear (Sam) and I headed into Tzaneen destined for the Beares store. I shuddered to think how hot he must have been in that thick suit and must have been suffering like crazy in it (thanks Sam for your dedication to the cause). Oh yes, while waiting at the filling station, a taxi pulled into the car wash and I couldn’t help taking a picture of Buddy standing next to it, notice the wording on the back window of the taxi!

Buddy, the bear and the rear of the taxi – A taxi called ‘Buddy’

Buddy, the bear and the rear of the taxi – A taxi called ‘Buddy’

At the Beares store I was told that arrangements had been made for me to meet a policeman from the FCS (Child Protection Unit) of the Tzaneen police station but unfortunately he was called away to a meeting and so could not make the appointment. After a chat with the Beares staff, a really great and friendly bunch of people, I was shown the way to the Maake Beares store, which is situated 25 kilometres outside of Tzaneen, by my giant bear, Sam.

Beares Staff Tzaneen, Beares store window in background

Beares Staff Tzaneen

The Maake store is situated right out in the middle of nowhere with a fantastic big mountain close by, a really magic setting. The people were really friendly and as usual everyone I passed on the drive was calling out, whistling and waving, Sam thought he was royalty the way he was waving and smiling.

Beares staff Maake

Beares staff Maake

By the time we got back to the store it was three thirty and as I was about to leave, a white Mazda pulled up outside the store. The occupant turned out to be the policeman who was supposed to have come to meet me, and what a fortuitous meeting this turned out to be. He introduced himself as “Captain Rain, you know that stuff that falls from the sky, Moreku”, and after re-entering the store we sat down and engaged in one of the best chats I have had with a policeman. I have now been fortunate enough to have met four of the most dedicated policemen I have ever had the good fortune to meet. He explained that he had been associated with the child protection unit or FCS as it is now sort of known, for I think it is 11 years. He believes that unfortunately the powers that be are creating chaos with the department by leaving ‘things’ hanging in the air. He believes that the original child protection unit, which was highly successful, should have been left alone to carry on doing its good work. He also confirmed that the raping of children in the area is really bad and is happening at a monstrous rate on a daily basis. Unfortunately the 12 man investigation staff who he believes is more than adequately qualified to handle the job is unable to perform their duties properly due to the major shortage of transport. Presently they have five vehicles allocated to the department, but at any one time there are usually no more than two available for investigation purposes. This is due to the vehicles being very old and in poor roadworthy condition – this sounds extremely similar to the situation which was explained to me back in Empangeni and Pongola. He also believes that the extremely low conviction rate which is experienced, particularly in this area but also throughout the country, is due to incompetent prosecutors who are “not qualified to take on the high powered attorneys appointed and paid for by the government to defend the culprits”.

Captain Rain Moreku was awarded the Top Detective for 2006/7 award and believe me deserves it again. He is undoubtedly one of the most dedicated policemen I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and I can only hope and pray that we can get more policemen of this calibre into the South African Police Service.

My accommodation for tonight was arranged by the Round Tablers of Tzaneen and provided courtesy of Clair’s Cottages, so following my chat with the good Captain, Dale Eberhard (Chairman of Tzaneen Round Table) met me at the Beares store and I followed him to Clair’s Cottages where I dropped off the trailer and immediately headed for the offices of the Local newspaper, The Herald, for an interview. Dale joined me earlier this evening for a few cold frosties on the veranda of my lovely accommodation and we chatted while the sweltering heat of the day slowly gave way to the lovely cool evening air. We were joined by Clair, whose family own this really magic B&B which has 12 lovely self catering chalets and rooms and of course we had a lengthy chat about the project and the severity of the scourge which is sweeping across our beautiful country. So to the Round Tablers of Tzaneen, who unfortunately I only got to meet one of, and to Clair and her family, thank you from the bottom of our hearts, from both Buddy and me for providing us with the magic accommodation. If anyone is ever passing through Tzaneen or needs accommodation of a top calibre standard here are the contact details for Clair’s Cottages:

Web-site: www.clairscottages.co.za
E-mail: clairscottages@gmail.com

Dale Eberhard Chairman Round Table, Tzaneen

Dale Eberhard Chairman Round Table, Tzaneen

So now once again it’s after midnight and I am going to bed. So keep well, keep the e-mails coming in – I need your opinions and recommendations on what needs to be done to stop the raping of our kids.

Caring regards
Buddy and Me (Steve)
steve@buddyandme.co.za


Wed
16
Sep '09

Day 44: Monday 14 September 2009

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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After a chat with Mike and Merle and wishing them well on their travels through Africa, I think they intend heading up to Kenya, I took a leisurely drive out of the Klaserie Caravan Park and took the road through to Hoedspruit. At one point while passing the Kapama Game Lodge boundary fence which runs for many kilometres, I passed five Giraffe standing right alongside the fence feeding on the trees. One of them was particularly tall while the others’ heads only reached halfway up his neck. It was quite amazing. I stopped Buddy, climbed out and walked almost right up to the fence to photograph them and they just stood there munching away.

Giraffe

Giraffe

Soon after starting off again, I indicated to overtake a slow moving bakkie, it was probably only the second or third time I had actually had to overtake someone else, but when I indicated I noticed that Buddy’s front right indicator light wasn’t working. On stopping at the garage just outside Hoedspruit to fill up, I discovered that the two bolts which hold the indicator unit to the fender were loose and were about to fall out. This had resulted in the earth, which is attached to the one bolt, being completely loose. The spanners were brought out and chop-chop the problem was solved and Buddy was once again legal.

Once again it was a lovely drive through to Phalaborwa with the road passing one private game farm after another. No big mountain passes, just gradual inclines and I think I only had to change to third once, so Buddy had a really relaxing trip. Phalaborwa lived up to its reputation by delivering really hot weather, not a cloud in the sky and by 9am it was already a sweltering 28 degrees with high humidity. On arriving at the Beares store I was met by the Beares Regional manager Gerrit Pretorius. I needed to sort out my internet connection which involved me having to purchase a new sim card and so took a stroll through town to the mall. I was approached by a few of the local inhabitants and was provided with their opinions on the subject of child rape. During the week I always wear my Beares/Lubners blue shirt reflecting the Buddy and Me website details as well as the slogan ‘Searching for a Solution to Child Rape’ clearly marked on it, which never fails to attract people’s attention. In Phalaborwa the opinions and suggestions were no different to those expressed by the public throughout the last project as well as this one, “Child rapists should be executed, failing this, if the government refuses to bring back the death penalty, then they should be put in jail for life – 45 years – with no chance of parole or early release for whatever reason”.

Beares staff, Phalaborwa – Gerrit, the big guy at the back with blue shirt

Beares staff, Phalaborwa – Gerrit, the big guy at the back with blue shirt

An appointment has been set up with a local NGO called ‘Maroela Crisis House” headed up by Altea Prinsloo for tomorrow morning (Tuesday 15th) at 8am so with that in mind and the fact that the police would not talk to me, I headed for home at 4pm (home being the residence of the Round Table Chairman Pieter Van der Merwe and his lovely wife Deidre?.

Round Tablers of Phalaborwa – The Chairman Pieter Van Der Merwe with blue shirt and cap, wife Deidre in pink next to him

Round Tablers of Phalaborwa – The Chairman Pieter Van Der Merwe with blue shirt and cap, wife Deidre in pink next to him

This evening was spent with the Round Tablers at their fantastic Club house and a delicious meal was provided by the wives, and a fiancée (wife to be in 45 days). The night proved to be a really great one and as usual the Tablers and their wives provided brilliant company. Obviously I did quite a bit of talking and the general conversation was centred around the catastrophic situation facing our country due to this horrible crime.

Me being ‘pinned’ with the Phalaborwa Round Table lapel pin

Me being ‘pinned’ with the Phalaborwa Round Table lapel pin

The night ended with Pieter and Dillon sitting on the veranda of Pieter and Deidre’s house enjoying a final cold frosty in the sweltering Phalaborwa evening heat. So that ended my day in Phalaborwa and so now I’m going to retire to bed as it’s a quarter to 12 (midnight) and I’m really tired. So until tomorrow, hang in there and we will see what happens in Tzaneen tomorrow.

Caring regards
Buddy and Me (Steve Heath)
steve@buddyandme.co.za