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Sun
31
Jan '10

Day 143 – 146: Thursday to Sunday, 28-31 January 2010

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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My full new itinerary including Namibia and Botswana to the end of the tour (19 May 2010).

To watch Buddy and Me in real time click here, select South Africa under “Global Fleet Logins:” in the left hand panel, enter cellphone number 0822549129 and password Buddy.

To make a donation to or information on any of the organisations involved in assisting victims of child rape and abuse, please click on one of the following links:

Beares
Lubners
Bobbi Bear Foundation (KwaZulu-Natal)
The Teddy Bear Clinic (Gauteng)
The TygerBear Foundation (Western Cape)
GRIP (Mpumalanga)
StepThru (Gauteng)

So with Thursday being a ‘day off’ for ‘Buddy and Me’ the day was spent doing some tender loving care and medical services to Buddy in the form of a service. So now we are ready for the challenge of heading forever south via the Kwa-Zulu Natal midlands, Durban and the coast route to Cape Town on the next leg of our crusade in our attempt to find a solution and to stop the rape of children in South Africa. From Cape Town ‘Buddy and Me’ will travel back up north along the West Coast into Namibia and then after reaching the Angolan border travel to the Zimbabwe / Botswana border via the Caprivi Strip and enter Botswana at the countries most Northern point and then head south again through Botswana to the countries most Southern point before re-entering South Africa.

I have been asked by Round Table to attend their ‘ARTSA’ conference which is being held in Hartenbos (that’s in, I believe, the George area) on the weekend of the 16th April. This means that I will have to reschedule the Namibian and Botswana legs of the project because at present my itinerary indicates that I will be in the Swakopmund / Walvis Bay area on that weekend, but I will confirm whether or not a change will be made to the schedule once I have had the opportunity to discuss the matter with the Beares management next weekend – I’m sure they will agree that the opportunity to address 4000 people at one time would be well worth the problems related to changing the schedule/itinerary. So keep watching the itinerary on this website for any possible changes to the ‘Buddy and Me’ schedule.

So after the ‘rest’ day on Thursday, (usually on rest days I finish the day more tired than I am on normal days) Friday morning ‘Buddy and Me’ left Germiston in overcast but nice driving weather for Standerton where we received a friendly welcome by Susan Smith the Beares store manager and her really friendly staff.

Susan had already established an appointment with a few ladies of the Standerton area two of whom (Hanlie Brits and Wini Ross) head up an amazing organisation called ‘SAVF’ (Suid-Afrikaanse Vrouefederasie – South African Woman’s Federation). This organisation was founded 104 years ago and provides an incredible number of services to destitute woman and children who find themselves victims of domestic violence and rape. To find out more about the organisation, who have facilities in most of the provinces around South Africa, or to provide whatever assistance you might be able to help them with, you can contact them on email address: savfstd@adept.co.za

<i><b>Beares</b> staff Standerton</i>

Beares staff Standerton

There were also two ladies from different news papers in the Standerton area as well as a young lady from the Regional Court. At this point I think it is only right that I write about an interesting phone call I received on Thursday morning. Whenever I receive a call on my cell phone, I always check to see if the caller’s number is identified or if the caller is someone identified on my phone listing, as in a family member or friend. On checking I noticed that the phone number of the caller was not identified, usually I don’t like receiving calls from callers who refuse to identify the number but I have learnt that this is becoming a frequent practise by callers.

The caller identified herself as being a senior person in the local government and told me that she had been made aware of the fact that I had, over the past few months, conducted interviews with members of the Department of Community Development, Social Welfare as well as police officials, Court Officials and staff of the Thuthuzela Care Centres. I confirmed this to be true and she went on to tell me that my interviews were undertaken without official approval and were frowned upon by senior people in these departments.

I explained that I do not expect anyone to make ‘official statements’ and that I am fully aware of the fact that individuals interviewed are not allowed to provide official details of statistics etc but that they are merely asked for their personal comments and opinions on what ‘they’ believe needs to be done to stop child rape and what ‘they’ believe needs to be done with regard to the department in which they operate which would assist in stopping the rape of children.

Although she was very friendly, she made sure that I understood that I am being ‘watched’ and ‘monitored’ and that ‘they’ will not tolerate me discussing this sensitive issue with staff of the previously mentioned departments without first obtaining ‘authority’. I pointed out that obtaining prior ‘authority’ involves weeks if not months of bureaucratic red tape, and based on the number of kids being raped on a daily basis, we don’t have time for all that red tape. So based on this I will not be identifying individuals I talk to, especially those connected to the departments I have mentioned, nor will I be taking photos of them unless they agree to their names being mentioned or photos being taken, although in most cases in the past this permission has been granted by the individuals.

One of the things I heard on the TV news over the weekend was the fact that the celebrations surrounding the ‘National Police Day’, was a great success with thousands of police from all over South Africa celebrating the auspicious occasion. It was also announced by the police department that this will in the future become an annual event. So in the future, criminals can pick the day on which to run amok committing crime because they will be advised in advance on which day the police will not be available to respond to crime around the country, yet another master piece of craziness implemented by our esteemed government.

The other master piece of craziness which I believe takes the cake, is the fact that they have instructed that all the schools in South Africa will close for the six weeks period during the 2010 Soccer World Cup. Great, so this means that there will be hundreds of thousand of school kids running around the streets and townships unsupervised, and this in light of the fact that we are being told by our government that parents must be aware of the fact that the human trafficking, of particularly children, is expected to escalate at a formidable rate during the 2010 Soccer World Cup tournament. Absolute geniuses!

My discussion with the lady from the court revealed that she believes that the low conviction rate of between 4 and 6% being experienced in South Africa, is definitely due to the fact hat the police officials taking the initial report and statement do not have a clue of what they are doing and that my proposal that the ‘FCS’ unit must be re-implemented immediately and ‘officially’ and that a sub-unit within the ‘FCS’ unit, as in a ‘Child Protection Unit’ be formed to specialise in the initial reporting and investigation of child rape cases. After I had provided the group with what I believe needs to be done to stop the raping of children in South Africa she got all exited and said “That is exactly what we need”. So it appears so far that my proposal for what needs to be done to stop the raping of children could be the solution to stopping this scourge sweeping across our country. So soon I will be placing the full proposal on this website, so keep watching this space.

A devastating thing happened to me on Wednesday after visiting the Beares and Lubners stores in Randfontein. At the time of starting this project, I started a book in which the Beares and Lubners store managers have been writing messages to ‘Buddy and Me’. I maintained the same book on my first project during 2005 and 2006 and the comments and messages provided me with many hours of fascinating and inspiring reading. The book I started on this project, soon after starting took on a whole new dimension when the Lubners store manager in Brakpan, Theresa Scholtz stuck a small heart and flower into the book where she had written her comments/message. From thereon the book literally grew in size with all the flowers and other items of love which were attached to the messages. The book has truly helped me on ‘bad’ days when for one reason or another, my life has been affected by what I have seen or heard or problems I have encountered.

On arriving at the Beares store in Nigel, I discovered that ‘The book’ was not in my shoulder bag where it has been for the past 6 months and after searching frantically through my ‘office’ (Buddy’s boot) I had to accept the fact that it was missing. The last time I had seen it was when Tracy, the manager of the Beares store in Randfontein and Suzie, the stand-in manager of the Lubners store in Randfontein, had written in it. A phone call to both these ladies revealed that ‘The Book’ was not there, later I searched at home hoping that I had left it there, but alas ‘The Book’ has gone.

On arriving at the Beares store in Standerton on Friday and explaining the predicament I was in to the store manager Susan Smith, while I was attending my discussion with my group of guests at the ‘SAVF’ she arranged to buy a new book and started it once again. Her inscription on the cover reads “This book is dedicated to ‘Buddy and Me’ by Susan Smith – Beares Standerton 5174 – Love U (20-01-2010) and of course the message she wrote in the book was truly inspiring. I of course had to return to both the Beares store in Nigel and Heidelberg to get those managers to write in the new book, and so I can only hope and pray that the first book surfaces soon. To the staff of Lubners in Randfontein, where I saw the book for the last time, “Guys please don’t give up; I am positive ‘The Book’ is somewhere in your store” possibly put into someone’s draw by mistake, so pleeeeeze don’t give up the search”.

Saturday was spent relaxing with May and her son Richard and his girl friend Lee-Anne at the Witbank Dam fishing? Richard caught a 2.6 Kg Carp, me as usual, nothing, but my time will come! Sunday was spent cleaning out the trailer, everything was very damp from all the rain we have been experiencing and so after emptying the trailer I repacked it after fitting new carpeting, and so all is now ready for the trip south.

So Monday morning early ‘Buddy and Me’ will be heading for Beares in Volksrust and then on to Beares in Newcastle in the afternoon and the town in which I will be hosted accommodation by what I can only describe as, from my phone call with him anyway, an absolute character of note, Round Tabler Jai Singh, and so Monday night should be yet another experience of note with the Tablers of Newcastle.

So with that in mind and my weekend finished all that’s left for ‘Buddy and Me’ to do is bid you farewell until tomorrow, so keep well and above all, keep all children safe.

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

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Thu
28
Jan '10

Day 142: Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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My full new itinerary including Namibia and Botswana to the end of the tour (19 May 2010).

To watch Buddy and Me in real time click here, select South Africa under “Global Fleet Logins:” in the left hand panel, enter cellphone number 0822549129 and password Buddy.

To make a donation to or information on any of the organisations involved in assisting victims of child rape and abuse, please click on one of the following links:

Beares
Lubners
Bobbi Bear Foundation (KwaZulu-Natal)
The Teddy Bear Clinic (Gauteng)
The TygerBear Foundation (Western Cape)
GRIP (Mpumalanga)
StepThru (Gauteng)

My visit to the Nigel Beares was an interesting one. The last time I visited the store, which was on the 3rd March 2006, on my arrival in the town a bank robbery was in progress at the ABSA bank which is situated about 100 metres from the Beares store. The roads had been cordoned off and there were police everywhere. Today was an entirely different situation; the town was as quiet as a grave yard.

The Beares store manager was on leave but she had made arrangements for me to meet some really interesting people. One in particular was a lady by the name of Zeenith Domingo who is one of the big wheels with the Department of Community Safety in the Duduza Regional Victims support office. She expressed some really great concerns about the fact that the department of Social development and welfare is totally under capitalised and that there are no funds available to assist the victims of child rape or the victims and families affected by domestic violence.

Another interesting person in the discussion group was a registered nurse with the Molarthela Mgwenya Community Health Centre, Margaret Rubisane who confirmed that they are conducting many abortions on kids in the 12 to 14 age group, and this goes along with my comments in previous blog’s regarding the ridiculous situation that according to our government, the age of consent for sex is 16, but their message to our children is that “If you do partake in sexual activities when you are under the age of 16 and fall pregnant, you can legally have an abortion without telling your parents or obtaining their permission.

One fact which became very apparent during the discussion was the fact that there are far too many NGO’s and other government organisations scattered around the country all supposedly available to provide support to child rape victims and victims of domestic violence, but when I ask them how many cases of child rape they deal with on an average month the answer is always “Very few”?

Present at the discussion was also a large group of kids from a local nursery school and some of them were initially scarred out of their wits by the large Beares Teddy Bear, but after awhile got quite cocky with him and thoroughly enjoyed the outing.

<i><b>Beares</b> staff, guests and the kids</i>

Beares staff, guests and the kids

<i>And of course Buddy couldn’t be left out of the action</i>

And of course Buddy couldn’t be left out of the action

While talking to my guests it had started to rain, but not just rain, it poured, but fortunately by the time it was time for me to bid everyone farewell the rain had stopped and so my drive to Heidelberg was a reasonably dry one.

The manager of the Beares Heidelberg store had arranged for yet another very interesting group of individuals for me to talk to and one of them was Inspector Christine De Beer of the SAPS unit of Heidelberg who confirmed that there is no ‘FCS’ unit in Heidelberg and confirmed that the ‘FCS’ unit was officially disbanded in March 2009. According to her, when the ‘FCS’ unit was disbanded each station was supposed to receive at least one qualified and trained member from the ‘FCS’ as in trained to be able to handle the investigation of child rape cases, but unfortunately Heidelberg station did not receive one!

One of the guests who really annoyed me was a man by the name of Percy Mathivhog (Not sure if that is the correct spelling of his name) who is the Senior Public Prosecutor in the NPA in the Regional Court. When asked what he believed needed to be done to stop the raping of children (as in children aged between birth and 12 years of age) his comment was that, trying to change the law or implement systems such as those I was proposing, and making government change their ways is a total waste of time. According to him, if we want to stop children being raped we should educated our children and ensure that they do not succumb to the demands and ‘bribes’ of men and stop accepting money and sweets for favours of sex.

When I asked how do we educate children such as the youngest rape victim I have held in my arms, which was 1 day old and the worst case of rape I have seen, which was an eight month old baby who had been raped by her own biological father and died three days later from her shocking injuries, he declined to comment but stuck to his guns about educating the children rather than changing the mindset of the savages raping children by implementing deterrent punishments, such as death penalties or harsh imprisonment sentences. I must admit that I have met a few really great individuals in our justice department employed as Senior Public Prosecutors who thoroughly deserve their positions and who are doing amazing jobs, but I’m afraid Percy is definitely not one of them.

There was a heck of a lot more discussed by this intriguing group but to mention it all will take a while and I don’t have that much time on this blog. The discussion started at 1:15 and finished at a quarter to 4 in the afternoon so you can imagine how much was discussed.

<i>Guests at the Heidelberg <b>Beares</b> store</i>

Guests at the Heidelberg Beares store

<i><b>Beares</b> staff Heidelberg with the Regional manager, Johan Nel front left</i>

Beares staff Heidelberg with the Regional manager, Johan Nel front left

So tomorrow ‘Buddy and Me’ have the day off, I need to have Buddy serviced and get him ready for the long haul south through the Kwa-Zulu Natal midlands and then on to Cape Town where we are due to arrive in roughly two months time.

So until Friday when we visit the Standerton area, I will say goodbye and of course keep all children safe.

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

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Wed
27
Jan '10

Day 141: Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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My full new itinerary including Namibia and Botswana to the end of the tour (19 May 2010).

To watch Buddy and Me in real time click here, select South Africa under “Global Fleet Logins:” in the left hand panel, enter cellphone number 0822549129 and password Buddy.

To make a donation to or information on any of the organisations involved in assisting victims of child rape and abuse, please click on one of the following links:

Beares
Lubners
Bobbi Bear Foundation (KwaZulu-Natal)
The Teddy Bear Clinic (Gauteng)
The TygerBear Foundation (Western Cape)
GRIP (Mpumalanga)
StepThru (Gauteng)

Today was a particularly bad day for me and my drive through to the Randfontein Beares and Lubners stores was spent pondering all sorts of issues I have to deal with, but when I visited the Nelspruit area I got to meet an amazing young girl who was a victim of a bad rape. At the time of the rape, 18 months ago she was about to celebrate her seventh birthday and was, through the rape infected with HIV. Her attitude to life had a huge and profound effect on me and whenever I am now faced with a dilema which I consider to be devastating, I simply think of little Gogo and tell myself that compared to her problem, mine is a drop in the ocean. And so I got through the day.

My talks in Randfontein did not produce anything new with regard to opinions on what needs to be done to stop the child rape running rampant in South Africa but I did get confirmation that it is, as in all the other areas I have visited, totally out of control.

One comment which was made and has been made by many people I have met throughout my travels around South Africa is, “Why should some individuals who can’t make it in society and turn to crime and in the process destroy other honest hard working peoples lives, be given the opportunity of a second chance while all the honest folk have to ensure they make it right the first time. Also why should the honest hard working folk have to pay, through their taxes, to improve these thugs’ life styles through a rehabilitation system employed by the government?

<i><b>Beares</b> staff Randfontein</i>

Beares staff Randfontein

<i><b>Lubners</b> staff Randfontein</i>

Lubners staff Randfontein

So after a relatively quiet day in Randfontein I bid the friendly staff of Beares and Lubners goodbye and returned to Germiston.

So until tomorrow when ‘Buddy and Me’ head in the direction of Nigel and Heidelberg we will say goodbye for now.

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

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Tue
26
Jan '10

Day 140: Monday, 25 January 2010

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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My full new itinerary including Namibia and Botswana to the end of the tour (19 May 2010).

To watch Buddy and Me in real time click here, select South Africa under “Global Fleet Logins:” in the left hand panel, enter cellphone number 0822549129 and password Buddy.

To make a donation to or information on any of the organisations involved in assisting victims of child rape and abuse, please click on one of the following links:

Beares
Lubners
Bobbi Bear Foundation (KwaZulu-Natal)
The Teddy Bear Clinic (Gauteng)
The TygerBear Foundation (Western Cape)
GRIP (Mpumalanga)
StepThru (Gauteng)

Hallelujah, no rain today. I left home in light cloudy conditions and arrived in the township of Thabong, after I must add being given some really bad directions from the ladies of Beares in Vereeniging. But after a phone call to Bev Whishart at Beares head Office who got Godfrey, the Beares Manager in Thabong to phone me and get me on the right road, I arrived at the Beares store in Thabong 10 minutes early, WOW.

Before I start on the subject of the discussions today I want to mention a documentary that was broadcasted on ‘MNet’s’ Carte Blanche last night which I believe foreigners, and in particular women, who intend visiting South Africa, should watch before making the detrimental decision to come out here. The article was about a woman (Jude Ward, who happened to be of the white population of South Africa) was driving in the Camperdown area of Kwa-Zulu Natal and was harassed by a member of the South Africa Police Services. The actions of the policeman who harassed her was despicable but the actions by the police officials who were present in the police station after she had pulled in to get help was in my mind even worse. I strongly recommend that all women, in South Africa as well as foreigners who intended or even remotely considered visiting South Africa, should seriously watch this documentary on www.mnet.co.za/carteblanche Sunday the 24th January 2010’s episode.

Sorry, before I go on with the subject matter of my crusade, there is one more item of crime in South Africa which I have to comment on, and that is the fact that my neighbour was shot by three savages / thugs, whatever you want to call them, on Friday morning at 5am. His neighbour narrowly missed being shot in the head when he ran out to help the neighbour and the savages pointed a gun into his face and said “I’m going to kill you you white bastard”, pulled the trigger but the bullet missed his ear by millimetres. After slipping and falling to the ground they proceeded to kick him to pieces and then ran off.

The one thing about travelling around South Africa as extensively as I have done during 2005 and 2006 and am busy doing the same again, is that one gets to meet so many people who have been affected by violent crime and who have had their lives turned upside down by it, and all our government is interested in is, the 2010 soccer world cup and depriving the population of possessing a firearm to defend themselves and to protect their family’s. In my blog (Day 134) I mentioned the fact that the Minister of Police, in a public statement, stated that “He would like to see a South Africa where only the police carry firearms”. My comment was that “If no one else has a firearm, why would the police need to carry firearms. Could it be that he knows full well that the thugs and savages who are running rampant in our country would still be in possession of firearms and that the citizens of South Africa would be prone to the violent crime being perpetrated by the savages and that they, the politicians, would be protected by the expensive security and body guards paid for by the tax payers of South Africa”.

In a recent discussion, a policeman told me that more firearms are stolen from members of the police force than from members of the public and that if a firearm is stolen from a member of the public, that individual will be charged for negligence and cannot obtain another firearm licence. However when a firearm is stolen from a member of the police force, the member is issued with another firearm and life goes on. Probably the most scariest bit of information which was given to me, is the fact that policemen and women actually sell their firearms and on reporting the ‘loss’ of the firearm are issued with new firearms and “life goes on”.

One guy I met told me that he had been stopped for speeding and because of the excessive speed he was doing was arrested. After appearing in court and being found guilty, part of his sentence was having his firearm licence cancelled. Now please, I ask you with tears running down my legs, what does speeding have to do with a firearm licence. But this falls in line with comments made by various members of the police force as well as other individuals who are in the ‘know” who have confirmed that eradicating firearms from “the civilian population’ is our government’s main objective.

Okay so back to my crusade, which is finding a solution to stop the rape and sexual abuse of children in South Africa. At the Thabong Beares store; Thabong being a very heavily populated township incorporated into the massive area of Sebokeng, I got to meet a group of very interesting people which consisted of members of the Police Services, a big group of them being individuals who are seriously dedicated to making a change in the current crime and in particular child rape situation in our country.

All of them blamed the rape situation on the fact that individuals are allowed to obtain liquor licences freely. They confirmed that “If the applicant pays whatever is required and “greasers” the right palm, he will be granted a licence to open a ‘Tavern’ or ‘Shebeen’ and young girls (Mostly in the 13 to 16 age group) are frequenting these places day and night in order to get paid for their ‘services’, lets face it, it’s better and more rewarding than attending school (which Julius Malema would support) and it’s definitely more financially rewarding than attending school. The biggest problem is that when they are not paid, they run to the police and cry rape.

A comment that was made by one of my guests, Sergeant Bassie Mothopeng which concerned me, and which will result in me pondering it for a few days, is that she believes that “Children are maturing much earlier than ‘we’ did”. According to her, kids are now sexually mature at the age of 10 and 12 years of age, where as “we” were only matured at 18 years of age, at this point I must mention that she appeared, to me anyway, to be around 35 years of age, and according to her this is the reason that ‘grown men’ are raping these young girls. I’m afraid I totally disagreed and cannot condone the raping of young girls for this reason. Hells teeth come on, girls were being married off to grown men centuries ago with fathers and mothers believing that they were mature enough to be married off, and that was wrong then so why should we go back to the dark ages to satisfy the lust and savagery of these swine’s.

<i>My group of guests at <b>Beares</b> Thabong</i>

My group of guests at Beares Thabong

One of the very special guests I had at Thabong is a young girl who is a really terrific young lady who wrote a poem for me, I don’t need to say anything more about her because I believe the poem says it all:

The happiness of the day I was born
The day I was being welcomed to the new world
The day they saw their tiny human being
The day they thanked God for the greatest gift of Intombi, the day I was born.
The sadness of their death
The day I felt real pain
The day I cried and cried non-stop
The day I felt the loneliness
The day my heart was loaded
Loaded by the emotion, the hardest emotion of all
Why me? Why them? These are my days, my thoughts
Questions, why this life for me?
These questions are from my heart.
Bay a sishiya a bazali, bethu, qhapagla lomhlaba uya hlaba.
I was told by my latest mother
She told me that I am now free
To just “Suwa and express my feelings”
How can I? If I am alone in this world
How can I? If I have no one to trust
How can I?
How can I just “Buwa and express my feelings”
While I’m alone in this world of “Life?”
I ask!!
But I am not alone, I am with God
Yshabalala Felicia (Botebo – Tsebo Secondary School)

<i>The whole group of guests including my little star, the poem writer holding up the poem she wrote for me and read out to everyone</i>

The whole group of guests including my little star, the poem writer holding up the poem she wrote for me and read out to everyone

<i>Of course Buddy had to get in on the act</i>

Of course Buddy had to get in on the act

After bidding everyone goodbye ‘Buddy and Me’ headed out of Thabong, destination Evaton which is yet another very large township attached to the Sebokeng region. Here I once again was met by an amazingly dedicated bunch of members of the SAPS, headed up by a Captain who believes that my ‘solution to stopping child rape in South Africa has hit the nail right on the head and that government must listen to me. So Mr. President you had better listen to what I have to say when I present my proposal on what needs to be done to stop the raping and sexual abuse of South Africa’s children to you and the rest of your cabinet, not to mention a heck of a lot of other people.

<i><b>Lubners</b> Evaton staff and guests</i>

Lubners Evaton staff and guests

After yet another lengthy and interesting chat with a large group at the Lubners store in Evaton, I had to make a hasty departure in order to reach Jo’burg before the hectic peak hour traffic, I still had a meeting to attend, but the information I gleamed from my guests at Evaton and from my meeting will have to wait until tomorrow, right now I’m exhausted and really want to retire to bed. So until tomorrow when ‘Buddy and Me’ hit the road once again and visit the area of Randfontein, we will bid you a good night, sleep well, don’t let the bugs bite, but above all, keep all children safe.

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

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Tue
26
Jan '10

Day 137-139: Friday to Sunday, 22-24 January 2010

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

Leave a comment


My full new itinerary including Namibia and Botswana to the end of the tour (19 May 2010).

To watch Buddy and Me in real time click here, select South Africa under “Global Fleet Logins:” in the left hand panel, enter cellphone number 0822549129 and password Buddy.

To make a donation to or information on any of the organisations involved in assisting victims of child rape and abuse, please click on one of the following links:

Beares
Lubners
Bobbi Bear Foundation (KwaZulu-Natal)
The Teddy Bear Clinic (Gauteng)
The TygerBear Foundation (Western Cape)
GRIP (Mpumalanga)
StepThru (Gauteng)

After a magnificent night with the Round Tablers of Carletonville and their wives which did not end quite as late as I expected, I was actually in bed, after doing my blog, a little after 12:30am, and proceeded to have a fantastic night’s sleep.

After thanking Barné and Adéle for their kind hospitality and friendship I followed Adéle to the Court House where we were joined by the other ladies of the Tablers of Carletonville and I was introduced to the Senior Public Prosecutor Elise Smit.

<i>Barné and Adéle Yzelle (Adéle is the good looking one) my hosts for the evening, unfortunately their lovely daughter, Amoré – who definitely gets her good looks from <b>her mother</b> – and who was a princess in the, I think 2009 Miss teen pageant, had already left for school, but I left a <b>Beares</b> teddy bear for her, as can be seen in Adéle’s hand</i>

Barné and Adéle Yzelle (Adéle is the good looking one) my hosts for the evening, unfortunately their lovely daughter, Amoré – who definitely gets her good looks from her mother – and who was a princess in the, I think 2009 Miss teen pageant, had already left for school, but I left a Beares teddy bear for her, as can be seen in Adéle’s hand

The reason for being taken to the court is that the ladies of the Tablers of Carletonville RT50 have formed a support group for the Tablers of Carletonville. It is the first area I have visited where the ladies, who because of the ‘rules’ of Round Table International are unable to become Tablers have formed such a group and they have named the club “Legs” and they explained that every ‘Table’ is supported by legs and so they are the support structure, as in ‘legs’ of the Carletonville ‘Table’, I think it is very neat, well done ladies.

One of the projects initiated by “Legs’ involves establishing or rather improving the child friendly ‘Care Room’ which has been established in the court which allows a child victim of rape or abuse to provide evidence in a ‘child friendly’ atmosphere. The room has been painted out in lovely bright colours and is being provided with toys and other ‘goodies’ to make the child feel relaxed and not under pressure. The room is also fitted out with an intercom system which allows the child to give evidence without having to be faced with the scary experience of having to face his or her rapist and even worse in some cases the scary defence council.

The victim/witness is also able to make use of dolls to describe what happened during the rape and these dolls are in both male and female form.

<i>One of the male dolls which is used by a victim/witness to illustrate what occurred during the rape</i>

One of the male dolls which is used by a victim/witness to illustrate what occurred during the rape

<i>The ladies of “Legs” as well as the senior Public Prosecutor Elise Smit (extreme left of the photo in orange blouse</i>

The ladies of “Legs” as well as the senior Public Prosecutor Elise Smit (extreme left of the photo in orange blouse

The ladies forming “Legs” consists of:

  • Nadine Janneke
  • Adéle Yzelle
  • Betsie Ford
  • Adéle Dawson
  • Martie Hattingh
  • Cindy Botha
  • Nadia Ferreira
  • Ruzelle Sol
  • Shulize Cronje
  • Natalie Talbat
  • Helene Agenbach

So to these ladies, I take my hat off to you, you are doing an amazing job for the community of Carletonville, keep up the great work and thank you for the coffee and chat following our court visit, you ladies are truly amazing individuals as are your husbands.

My chat with Elize Smit (SPP) revealed that the use of the ‘Care Room’ has helped in increasing the conviction rate of child rape cases to a staggering 60% in the Carletonville area, which when considering the fact that our countries average conviction rate is currently reported to be a mere 4 – 6%, this is an incredible fete.

The news during the day which was covered extensively by the radio stations, was the fact that Julius Malema (President of the ANC’s youth league) was visiting the Carletonville area during the last couple of days and had been visiting the schools promoting the fact that “If children do not want to go to school, then they don’t have to, and if teachers do not want to teach, then they must not go to school and teach”. And this is in light of the fact that South Africa has just experienced one of, if not, the worst, matric results ever experienced in the history of South Africa’s education system with something like 20 schools not having obtained a single matric pass and something like 200 schools obtaining less than a 20% pass rate for 2009. My message to Julius Malema is, “If this is the message that a supposedly ‘leader’ of our governing political party’s youth league sends to the youth of our country, may God help us and the future of our country, because, although you and our government do not appear to be aware of the fact, the children are the future of our country and messages like the one you are portraying to our scholars and ‘proper’ youth is not going to help the pathetic situation our education system is currently finding itself in, rather just keep your mouth shut and let the more educated individuals of our country get on with the job of trying to get our youth educated”.

My visit to the Beares and Lubners stores which are situated right next door to each other, as in sharing a dividing wall, proved to be a very merry and festive one. The Beares manager, Leon Visser and a friend Pieter had brought their key board, guitar, amp and microphone into the Beares store and provided the staff and public with some great music.

<i>Introducing the amazing, the fantastic sound (or rather photo) of Leon – on keyboard, Pieter – on guitar, and Luanda Diko (<b>Lubners</b> Carletonville Manager) impersonating a superstar with the mike, otherwise known as the <b><u>BL&F Trio</u></b> as named by me – <b>The Beares, Lubners & Friend Trio</b></i>

Introducing the amazing, the fantastic sound (or rather photo) of Leon – on keyboard, Pieter – on guitar, and Luanda Diko (Lubners Carletonville Manager) impersonating a superstar with the mike, otherwise known as the BL&F Trio as named by me – The Beares, Lubners & Friend Trio

<i>Because of the close proximity of the <b>Beares</b> and <b>Lubners</b> stores I decided that a combined photo would be in order. The guy standing on top of Buddy in the centre is the Regional Manager Harry Scholtz – The leader of the pack</i>

Because of the close proximity of the Beares and Lubners stores I decided that a combined photo would be in order. The guy standing on top of Buddy in the centre is the Regional Manager Harry Scholtz – The leader of the pack

After a long day in Carletonville which included a very long drive through almost every street of Carletonville escorted by the police with sirens blaring and blue lights flashing, at 2:30 in the afternoon with some very nasty dark clouds looming, I bid the staff and guests of Beares and Lubners farewell and headed out of Carletonville, destination home – Germiston, and hoped I would make it home before the sky’s opened up, and soon after I arrived home that is exactly what happened.

The rest of the weekend was spent relaxing with our dogs, if one can call being driven crazy by the mutts relaxing, but check out this one, he is also called Buddy and is reputed to be a cross – miniature Doberman Pincher – Jack Russell, quite a combination, but a character of note.

<i>The other ‘Buddy’</i>

The other ‘Buddy’

So with that, I will love and leave you, and hope you all had a terrific and restful weekend. So until tomorrow – Monday the 25th when ‘Buddy and Me’ visit the Thabong and Evaton townships, keep well and keep all children safe.

Caring regards from
Buddy and Me (Steve Heath)

You can e-mail your comments and opinions to me on: steve@buddyandme.co.za

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Tue
26
Jan '10

Day 136: Thursday, 21 January 2010

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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My full new itinerary including Namibia and Botswana to the end of the tour (19 May 2010).

To watch Buddy and Me in real time click here, select South Africa under “Global Fleet Logins:” in the left hand panel, enter cellphone number 0822549129 and password Buddy.

To make a donation to or information on any of the organisations involved in assisting victims of child rape and abuse, please click on one of the following links:

Beares
Lubners
Bobbi Bear Foundation (KwaZulu-Natal)
The Teddy Bear Clinic (Gauteng)
The TygerBear Foundation (Western Cape)
GRIP (Mpumalanga)
StepThru (Gauteng)

So once again when it came time for ‘Buddy and Me’ to head out on the road again, destination Fochville and then Western Area, 5 minutes before I was about to leave the rain came down, so what’s new? My arrival at the Beares store in Fochville was announced by a couple of guys blowing their lungs out on vuvuzela’s which I’m sure could be heard for kilometres around the town as well as a large group of kids shouting slogans of “Children are the future” Protect the children” and “Stop raping children”.

The kids and staff of Beares Fochville welcoming ‘Buddy and Me’, notice the red and yellow vuvazela’s

All I know is that the vuvuzela’s being blown in the stadiums during the 2010 World Cup games could cause some big problems. While having a photo taken by the local press with all the kids and Beares staff clinging to Buddy, a guy was standing on the back of the buggy blowing one of these things and the opening where the almighty noise came out of was about a metre from my ear, which is less than the distance from somebody’s ear when seated in a stadium in front of someone blowing one of these things. Oh man, when considering the tempers that fly with soccer hooligans seen at previous world cup tournaments this one should be a humdinger.

<i>Notice the vuvuzela near my right ear, it’s now a good few hours since this photo was taken and my ears and head are still ringing</i>

Notice the vuvuzela near my right ear, it’s now a good few hours since this photo was taken and my ears and head are still ringing

One of the people I had a really interesting chat with was a reporter from the Carletonville Herald Cerise Du Ploy who after hearing my proposal for a solution to stopping the rape of children said “finally someone has convinced me that the rape and sexual abuse of children can be stopped and that if our South African Government is serious about stopping it they had better take serious note of what you are proposing”.

We also discussed the fact that the local police (SAPS) refused to meet with me to discuss the child rape situation in the area, and she confirmed that child rape is happening at a horrific rate in the area and that the police also refuse to speak to her as a member of the local press about the child rape as well as general crime occurring in the area. My comment was that where I have been refused the opportunity to talk to the police in some areas, fortunately it has only occurred on three occasions, it has later been confirmed by independent NGO organisations, that child rape in these areas is out of control and that the communities in these areas have lost all faith in the police forces ability do anything about it not to mention stop it.

We also discussed the fact that; and this has cropped up in other mining areas as well, that the rape of young children and babies in the mining areas is particularly bad due to the fact that the men work shifts and so are alone at home with babies and children during the day. In these areas, mothers in particular do not or rather refuse to; report the rape of the babies and children due to the fact that the financial implication is even worse than for those mothers living in the other rural areas. The reason for this is that the men are provided with free or very low cost housing and should the rape of the child be reported and the father is arrested and society is lucky enough to see him being convicted and locked away, the financial implications on the mother and rest of the family are even worse due to the fact the family are forced to vacate the house.

So taking this into account, my message to our esteemed government and legislators, is that no matter what our fantastic legislation says in the form of the section of our ‘Sexual Offences Act-32/2007’ which states that “Any person who is made aware of the fact that a child has been raped or sexually abused, is forced by the section to report the rape to the authorities and that any person who fails to do is guilty of an offence and can be detained and imprisoned” the mothers of South Africa will never report the rape of the children unless you ensure that the departments of Social Development and Social Welfare Services are funded properly in order that they can provided the mothers who report the rapes of their children are properly looked after and that they continue to live in the same standard as they were accustomed to prior to their husbands being arrested for the rape of their children.

At this stage I would like to raise the point that I have enquired with many police and court officials, and in fact ask the question during every interview, “Are you aware of anyone ever being charged and imprisoned under the section of the ‘Sexual Offences Act 32/2007’ relating to the failure to report a child rape case they have been made aware of”, and to date the response has been “No”. So once again we have a situation in which the government ‘appears’ to be attempting to bring a stop to certain illegal practises, such as the transgression of the section of Act 32/2007’ for failing to report a child rape case, and other illegal transgression such as bribery and corruption, but unfortunately nobody gets charged under these sections of the law and if they do the punishment is so puny it’s a waist of time pursuing action against them.

A classic example of this are the cases that were reported in the press during 2009 in the Eastern Cape region in which 11 members of the local government were convicted of the theft / fraud of something like 25 million Rand and on being convicted were each sentenced to 9 years imprisonment of which the entire sentence was suspended for 5 years. The news report went on to confirm that there are an additional 15 individuals whose cases were still pending. Oh yes, I forgot to mention that not one cent of the money was recovered!

From Fochville ‘Buddy and Me’ once again ventured out into the rain and headed for the Lubners store in Westonaria. The Manager of the store, Lynette Else who must have the cutest giggle/laugh I have heard in a very long time arranged for me to chat to a Captain from the local ‘FCS?’ unit who I was told is a supper person and was very eager to talk to me, but unfortunately when I arrived at the store she was forced to cancel her appointment with me due to a pressing child rape case, which obviously I had absolutely no problem with, but she did send another very efficient young lady by the name of Constable Molapo in her place. Constable Molapo confirmed that they experience between 12 and 14 child rape cases (As in children under the age of 12 years of age) per month, but that the cases of rape involving young girls of between 13 and 16 is very much higher. She also confirmed that the conviction rate in the local regional court is high and that they often witness sentences of life and 20 to 25 years being handed down by the court.

<i>The smiling staff of <b>Lubners</b> Westonaria</i>

The smiling staff of Lubners Westonaria

Lynette Else (The Westonaria Lubners Manager) had also made an appointment for me with the Senor Public Prosecutor of the Regional Court in Westonaria, Ms. Riaana Van Rensburg and this lady, as in the case of Ms. Van der Merwe in Sasolburg Regional Court, really impressed me. She in fact confirmed exactly what Ms. Van der Merwe had said about the pressure being applied on prosecutors which because of the high rate of turnover of staff impacts on the conviction rate, and also confirmed that the community of the local township of Bekkersdal is a very active community and invariably arrest child rapists themselves and hand them over to the police.

However she did comment on the fact that unfortunately in many cases, especially in those cases which involve the raping of a child by a family member, (but also where other individuals commit the offences and either intimidate the witness or her family or offer financial retribution) the family all sit down and discuss the situation and after coming up with “A solution” the directly affected family depart from the area and when it comes time for the trial the witness/victim and her family have disappeared without a trace resulting in the case being thrown out of court.

We discussed this problem at length and she confirmed that she had on many occasions wanted to pursue a case of ‘Defeating and/or obstructing the ends of justice’ against the parents, because they could not be charged under the section of the ‘Sexual Offences Act 32-2007’ which I mentioned earlier in this blog, which relates to the section regarding the failure to report a rape of a child, because they had reported it but had just not allowed the police and justice department to do their job.

From Westonaria I returned to Carletonville where I used the time in the late afternoon to start my blog because tonight I will be hosted accommodation by Round Tabler Barné Yzelle and his wife Adéle and their daughter Amoré and we will be joined by a large group of Tablers for a braai and ‘chat’. So having experienced the Round Tablers interpretation of a “chat” I hope to get most of today’s blog finished and then be able to finish it off after the braai and “chat” or early morning and get it sent to Gail in Germiston so she can place it on my blog.

(XXX Break for Round Table evening XXX)

So now having finished the braai and “chat” I firstly have to apologise to Gail, because as I said, I send my blog to her in Germiston in e-mail form and then she posts it to the blog, and when I send a lot of photos she has a mild heart attack and when I send as many as I will be sending with this blog I think she will probably have a serious heart attack. So Gail you have my sincerest apologise for the number of photos in this blog but because of the fantastic evening I had with the Round Tablers of RT50 Carletonville and their wives I believe the evening must be shared with everyone and this can only be fully appreciated in the form of photos, so here goes.

<i>Me being pinned and presented with the RT50 Carletonville (STNOFS Area) banner by Louis Janneke. If you look closely you can see that my jacket of honour is starting to get pretty heavy with all the Round Table pins which have been attached to it</i>

Me being pinned and presented with the RT50 Carletonville (STNOFS Area) banner by Louis Janneke. If you look closely you can see that my jacket of honour is starting to get pretty heavy with all the Round Table pins which have been attached to it

<i>Now this is a very special pinning. Here I am being pinned by Louis’ wife Nadine with the ‘Mufflers’ pink buffalo pin. I was inaugurated into the Round Table Buffalo Club by the Tablers of Empangeni and presented with the buffalo pin way back when. The rule of the Buffalo Club is, individuals who have been inaugurated may not drink with their right hand, if caught doing so you have to ‘down’ the drink, there are a number of rules which were place on my blog at the time of my inauguration in Empangeni, check them out. But tonight I was inaugurated into the ladies club, ‘The Mufflers’ and in so doing have become the first male to be inaugurated into the ‘Mufflers club’</i>

Now this is a very special pinning. Here I am being pinned by Louis’ wife Nadine with the ‘Mufflers’ pink buffalo pin. I was inaugurated into the Round Table Buffalo Club by the Tablers of Empangeni and presented with the buffalo pin way back when. The rule of the Buffalo Club is, individuals who have been inaugurated may not drink with their right hand, if caught doing so you have to ‘down’ the drink, there are a number of rules which were place on my blog at the time of my inauguration in Empangeni, check them out. But tonight I was inaugurated into the ladies club, ‘The Mufflers’ and in so doing have become the first male to be inaugurated into the ‘Mufflers club’

<i>The official ‘Mufflers Club member greeting/handshake</i>

The official ‘Mufflers Club member greeting/handshake

<i>The official test which is carried out to ensure that the person being inaugurated is in fact a woman, “making sure boobs are present”, of course in my case this proved difficult but the process had to take place</i>

The official test which is carried out to ensure that the person being inaugurated is in fact a woman, “making sure boobs are present”, of course in my case this proved difficult but the process had to take place

<i>Being pinned by Louis with the official ‘Pink Buffalo’</i>

Being pinned by Louis with the official ‘Pink Buffalo’

In Carletonville the Tablers came up with something really amazing. The signage on Buddy’s sides and the sides of the trailer includes the wording “African Odyssey” and the ‘C’ in the word African on the one side of the trailer had been lost along the way. The Tablers of Carletonville decided that they would have a replacement one printed for me, but the ‘c’ was replaced with a capital ‘C’ in red on a white background which represents the ‘C’ of Carletonville and so the ‘C’ in the word African on Buddy’s drivers side was also replaced with the same red ‘C’.

<i>The red ‘C’ representing Round Table of Carletonville</i>

The red ‘C’ representing Round Table of Carletonville

<i>The new signage</i>

The new signage

The other new signage the Tablers of Carletonville arranged to have put onto Buddy is a sticker they had specially printed and placed in a spot on Buddy’s bonnet which was being kept open and available for a really special sticker which was going to be placed there when I arrive back in Durban on the 5th February before starting my south bound journey for the Cape leg of my crusade, and that is a ‘Sharks’ sticker. But because the Tablers of Carletonville produced such an amazing sticker I agreed to forfeit the spot and place theirs in the spot instead.

<i>Being presented with Carletonville 50’s special sticker by Louis Janneke</i>

Being presented with Carletonville 50’s special sticker by Louis Janneke

<i>The sticker placed in the spot of honour on Buddy’s bonnet</i>

The sticker placed in the spot of honour on Buddy’s bonnet

The evening was a truly fantastic one, and I was given an opportunity to address the Tablers and present them with a talk on the subject of child rape as well as present them with what I believe is a solution to stopping the rape and sexual abuse of the children and babies of South Africa. The only problem is that when I start talking on the subject I never stop and so my talk went on for more than an hour. But they all appeared to be genuinely interested and I was given a number of opinions and suggestions to add to my proposal on a solution to stopping child rape which will soon be released to the media as well as presented to parliament.

<i>The Tablers of Carletonville RT50 and their wives thoroughly enjoying an evening of braaing and socialising, not even the intermittent rain could put a dampener on the evening</i>

The Tablers of Carletonville RT50 and their wives thoroughly enjoying an evening of braaing and socialising, not even the intermittent rain could put a dampener on the evening

<i>And finally the whole group of Tablers and their wives around Buddy, I mean, how could we not include the star of the show, Buddy?</i>

And finally the whole group of Tablers and their wives around Buddy, I mean, how could we not include the star of the show, Buddy?

And so ended Thursday 21st January 2010 day number 136 in the life of ‘Buddy and Me – Searching for a Solution to Stopping the Rape and Sexual Abuse of Children in South Africa’.

So all that’s left for me to do is to wish you a good night from both Buddy and me and until tomorrow when ‘Buddy and Me’ visit the City of Carletonville, keep your feet on the ground but reach really high for the sky and above all, keep all children safe.

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

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Tue
26
Jan '10

Day 135: Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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My full new itinerary including Namibia and Botswana to the end of the tour (19 May 2010).

To watch Buddy and Me in real time click here, select South Africa under “Global Fleet Logins:” in the left hand panel, enter cellphone number 0822549129 and password Buddy.

To make a donation to or information on any of the organisations involved in assisting victims of child rape and abuse, please click on one of the following links:

Beares
Lubners
Bobbi Bear Foundation (KwaZulu-Natal)
The Teddy Bear Clinic (Gauteng)
The TygerBear Foundation (Western Cape)
GRIP (Mpumalanga)
StepThru (Gauteng)

With all the rain ‘Buddy and Me’ have been experiencing over the past few weeks I should start by say “Quack quack” because I feel like a duck. When I left home this morning, although it had rained for most of the night it sort of cleared and I had clear weather, as in cloudy but no rain all the way through to Meyerton, but soon after stopping outside the Beares store the heavens opened up and it poured. Fortunately the Beares store and Lubners stores in Meyerton are situated right next door to each other so once I had parked Buddy, right up on the pavement mind you, outside the Beares store I did not have to venture out into the rain to move to the Lubners store.

I met a group of people from various organisations in the Meyerton area and three in particular; Mureva Chipato, Miriam Mosia and Thembi Mabitle from the Kotulong Community Centre provided me with some interesting comments. One comment was that “The relationship between the police and Social Workers should be much stronger”. I found this interesting because in all my talks with the police and department of Community Development in the Vanderbijlpark and Vereeniging areas, which is but a skip and a jump away from Meyerton I was led to believe that these two departments have a very close working relationship. Which once again proves my point that in ‘some areas’ systems are employed and are working well and in other areas they are not, and by this I include the fact that the ‘FCS’ system is employed and functioning well in some areas and in others, because of the fact that it has been officially disbanded, it is not operating at all. Why can’t we get a national system which is employed across the board working on the same basis?

<i>A couple of the <b>Beares</b> and <b>Lubners</b> store staff accompanied by a few local guys who couldn’t resist having their photos taken</i>

A couple of the Beares and Lubners store staff accompanied by a few local guys who couldn’t resist having their photos taken

After a chat with the staff and guests at the Lubners store and an interview with the local press which involved getting a few of the Lubners staff and Beares staff to venture out into the rain for a photograph, ‘Buddy and Me’ said our goodbyes to the friendly staff of both stores and once again took to the road in the pouring rain headed for Carltonville, sometimes, I am told, referred to as “CarlToonville”, where ‘Buddy and Me’ have been kindly hosted accommodation by Round Tabler Louis and Nadine Janneke.

On my way I stopped off at the Thuthuzela Care Centre which is based in the Kopnong Hospital a short distance outside of the ‘city?’ of Vereeniging, and as I have said before, I believe that the concept of the TCC is a brilliant one, and that if it is changed slightly, as in the services identified in their brochure and functioned as reflected in my ‘Proposal to parliament on a solution to stopping child rape’, half our problems with regard to child rape will be solved. But unfortunately it is not being applied properly and once again I discovered that half of the services identified in their brochures are not being provided.

On arriving at the Janneke residence I was told by Louis and Nadine that I was going to be given a rest from the usual late nights I had been experiencing with Round Tablers but that “Tomorrow night” is going to be different and that I must expect to be kept busy by the Tablers of Carltonville. We were joined by a group of Tablers and their wives and the evening was spent enjoying good food, cold beers and great conversation. The “early night” turned out to be early in the morning, and I got to bed a little after 1am, so if that was what they consider to be an early night in Carltonville I shudder to see what tonight is going to bring.

<i>Round Tabler Louis and his wife Nadine Janneke my hosts in Carltonville</i>

Round Tabler Louis and his wife Nadine Janneke my hosts in Carltonville

So that’s all that happened in the lives of ‘Buddy and Me’ today, no breath taking information to add to our story on ‘Searching for a Solution to Child Rape’, so until tomorrow, that’s if I survive another night with the Round Tablers of Carltonville tonight, we will bid you a farewell until tomorrow, so keep well and of course, keep all children safe.

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

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Wed
20
Jan '10

Day 134: Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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My full new itinerary including Namibia and Botswana to the end of the tour (19 May 2010).

To watch Buddy and Me in real time click here, select South Africa under “Global Fleet Logins:” in the left hand panel, enter cellphone number 0822549129 and password Buddy.

To make a donation to or information on any of the organisations involved in assisting victims of child rape and abuse, please click on one of the following links:

Beares
Lubners
Bobbi Bear Foundation (KwaZulu-Natal)
The Teddy Bear Clinic (Gauteng)
The TygerBear Foundation (Western Cape)
GRIP (Mpumalanga)
StepThru (Gauteng)

‘Buddy and Me’ started our day this morning in lovely bright sunshine and had a really magic drive back to the Vaal Triangle to Vereeniging, can you believe it, no rain! At the Beares store I got to meet a great bunch of people from many different sectors of the community involved in various aspects of providing support to abused children in the area.
These included:

  • Braam van der Merwe and Joyce Hlongwane from the Alpha Trauma Centre
  • Mandisa Ntamethlo from the Emthonjeni Awareness Centre
  • Ntswaki Maduna of the Reach-Out Community Project in Evaton West
  • Malefu Moloi from the Bana Ba Bagodimo Drop-In Centre
  • Nandipa Mafenuka from the Tharollo Care Initiative Small farms (Evaton)
  • Captain Mokhele of “The? FCS unit” SAPS” Vereeniging

Our discussion went on for two hours and I wish I could have had the whole of South Africa involved in it. Braam van der Merwe produced statistics of the child rape cases (Children under the age of 12 years of age) which formed part of the services the Alpha Trauma Centre had provided support for, for the past 12 months period, here they are:

January 21
February 22
March 29
April 12
May 22
June 17
July 36
August 40
September 48
October 72
November 48
December 7
TOTAL 374

And this, in comparison to many NGO’s providing support to child rape victims, is a relatively small NGO, but they still dealt with 374 child rape cases (as in children under 12 years of age) in a 12 months period. And when considering that only 15% of child rape cases are reported this means that according to the Alpha Trauma Centre’s figures alone, not taking into account the child rape cases being handled by other institutions, this equates to 2506 child rape cases occurring in the Vereeniging area annually, quite scary!

<i>My guests at the <b>Beares</b> store</i>

My guests at the Beares store

The ladies from the other institutions all provided interesting information on the child rape situation in the areas they are involved in and Captain Mokhele once again proved to me that our Police Services have some really dedicated police officers whose expertise and dedication is currently being wasted, and that the “Powers that be” in the Police Services must wake up soon and do their job and earn their salary’s by officially getting a properly trained and dedicated team of specialists together to head up a specialist ‘Child Protection Unit’ within an ‘FCS’ unit. This was confirmed by Captain Mokhele when she stated that “Our justice system has definitely failed us and we now need the FCS / CPU to be officially re-instated and functioning on a professional and dedicated basis”. Captain I salute you. To Hettie Muller, the Beares store Manager, thank you for arranging a terrific bunch of guests.

My next visit was to the Lubners store, which fortunately for ‘Buddy and Me’ was situated a mere 50 metres from the Beares store. Here once again Hannes Weyers, the Lubners store manager had arranged for me to meet, although a small group, but a group of individuals who provided me with some really interesting information and who confirmed various bits of information I have been provided with from people along my route. This group consisted of:

  • Dalene Venter from Midvaal Local Authority – Head of Community Development
  • Marthie Van Rensburg – NG – Welfare (A family and children’s organisation)
  • Captain Shado Mashobane – SAPS Social Crime Prevention
  • Superintendent Du Toit Tulleken – Crime Prevention – Vereeniging

Once again we had an almost three hour discussion and after presenting them with my ‘Solution to stopping the rape and sexual abuse of children’ presentation I intend presenting to our President and parliament in March, they unanimously agreed that my solution would work. So to Mr. Zuma and his team, you damn well better listen!

<i>My guests at the <b>Lubners</b> store</i>

My guests at the Lubners store

<i>The whole group, <b>Beares</b> staff, <b>Lubners</b> staff and guests</i>

The whole group, Beares staff, Lubners staff and guests

And so ended my visit to the town/City of Vereeniging, I always have a problem in identifying whether a place is a town or City, maybe somebody can write to me (steve@buddyandme.co.za) or on the website comments blog, and explain the difference. I have always been led to believe that a town becomes a city when it has a Cathedral, but if you know better please let me know.

I heard an interesting comment today which related to a comment made on TV by, I was told, the Minister of Police, who said that his dream is “To see a South Africa where only the police carry firearms”. My comment to this was, ‘If it’s only the police who will be carrying firearms, then why do they need firearms?” Could it be because he knows that he will never be able to eradicate fire arms from the possession of criminals and therefore we, the ‘man in the street citizen of South Africa’ will be open to the violent crime being perpetrated by these thugs and they, the ‘heavies in government with their expensive security systems and body guards, paid for by the tax payers of South Africa, live and sleep in their safe cocoons?

Well that’s enough for today, so until tomorrow when I return to the Vaal Triangle region and visit the Beares and Lubners stores and get to meet yet another group of interesting people in the area of Meyerton, ‘Buddy and Me’ will say good night and hope that all children stay safe.

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

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Tue
19
Jan '10

Day 133: Monday, 18 January 2010

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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My full new itinerary including Namibia and Botswana to the end of the tour (19 May 2010).

To watch Buddy and Me in real time click here, select South Africa under “Global Fleet Logins:” in the left hand panel, enter cellphone number 0822549129 and password Buddy.

To make a donation to or information on any of the organisations involved in assisting victims of child rape and abuse, please click on one of the following links:

Beares
Lubners
Bobbi Bear Foundation (KwaZulu-Natal)
The Teddy Bear Clinic (Gauteng)
The TygerBear Foundation (Western Cape)
GRIP (Mpumalanga)
StepThru (Gauteng)

So Monday morning (this morning) dawned very bleak and overcast and by the time I headed out for Vanderbijlpark which is 78 kilometres away, it had started to rain, once again and as usual it wasn’t just raining it was pouring. Halfway to Vanderbijlpark Buddy decided that he had had enough water in his mechanics and spluttered and spurted and cut out. I have been told on a few occasions that “someone up there is looking after ‘Buddy and Me’ and this morning was no exception. Buddy and I were on an up hill and when he cut out we were about 100 metres from the only over head bridge on the R59 freeway. I coasted to a stop under the bridge and phoned Bev Wishart, Beares Marketing Assistant at Head office in Pinetown told her what had happened and asked her to contact the Beares store in Vanderbijlpark and let them know that I could possibly be a little late.

I then proceeded to do some ‘CPR’ on Buddy which involved cleaning and drying out the distributor which was pretty damp. My first attempt at starting him was unsuccessful but I persevered and my second attempt revived him and when I applied the ‘electrical paddle’ (as in the key) he sprang to life and roared with renewed vigour and we were once again back on the road again. When we were about 10 kilometres from Vanderbijlpark the rain eased and the sky ahead had gaps through which actual sun shone through, absolutely bloody amazing!

I arrived at the Beares store a mere 20 minutes late and amazingly there was no water falling from the sky. I had a really interesting chat with a lady by the name of Anet (and just in case you’re wondering, that is the correct spelling of her name, it’s not Annette) Hoof, who is with a safe house in the Vanderbijl / Vereeniging area called Sedibeng Children’s Haven. They provide shelter to, mostly children who have been sexually abused and sent to them by the courts for safe keeping pending the court case and receive a staggering R16-50 (2.23 US Dollars) per child per day which must cover the cost of their food, clothing, accommodation, education and supervision. It is reputed that it is currently costing the State R98-00 per prisoner per day for food alone. Interesting!

<i><b>Beares</b> staff Vanderbijlpark</i>

Beares staff Vanderbijlpark

After a chat with the Beares staff I bid them farewell and drove the whole 1 kilometre to the Lubners store where I was met by a group of really interesting individuals. The group included a man by the name of Ben Lombard who is a Pastor with the El Saddie Church (and once again, although, as he explained, it is pronounced El Shadia, it is spelt El Saddie) he explained that he is a volunteer with the local police services in a police initiative called ‘Victim Empowerment Centre SAPS – Vanderbijlpark’. According to Ben the ‘Victim Empowerment Centres’ is a national programme and “should be employed at all police stations”. I unfortunately had to admit that it, as in the case of the ‘Thuthuzela Care Centres’ is the best kept secret in South Africa, because after all my travels around South Africa and having asked every policeman and policewoman I have met, about what support centres are available in their towns and cities for child rape victims and victims of domestic violence, I have never been told of, or heard of, such an initiative as the ‘SAPS Empowerment Centres’. Ben explained that probably only 2% of their time is spent on child rape victims (as in children under the age of 12 years of age) and that the far majority of their time is spent with young girls in their mid teens, as in 13 to 15 years of age.

The other very interesting lady in the group was a lady by the name of Captain Mokoena who introduced herself as being “Involved in a ‘Child Protection Unit” associated with the ‘FCS’ unit”. This was pure magic and music to my ears. I have always professed that the disbanded ‘FCS’ unit, which was originally formed after the ‘CPU’ unit (Child protection unit) was disbanded, which was intended to include a broader scope of domestic violence, should be re-instated but include a specialist unit of CPU members. She explained that in this area, the Vanderbijlpark area, the system was working well, but when I asked her how many cases of ‘child rape’ are reported to their station on a monthly basis, she confirmed that it was seldom more than two or three cases, which indicates that, as is occurring in all the other areas around South Africa, mothers are not reporting the rape of their babies and children.

One of the most devastating bits of information that Captain Mokoena shared with us, is the fact that it takes on average between 10 months and anything to two years to get a result from our forensics lab on DNA evidence. She told us that in one case DNA was sent to the Pretoria Labs in 2005 on a child rape case and up until today 18th January 2010 (almost 4 years later) still no results have been received. The case has subsequently been struck from the role. And then we wonder why we have this ridiculously low 4-6% conviction rate.

My other two guests were two ladies, Alta and Pulane who are with an NGO called ‘Child Welfare’ and when I first saw the words “Child Welfare” embroided on their coats I thought they were with the government department of welfare services, but they quickly corrected me and pointed out that they are with a private NGO.

Another very interesting guest was a lady by the name of Annelie Coertzen who is with ‘Life Line’. In our discussion she explained that, according to legislation, victims can claim restitution from rapists. I mentioned that this point had been raised in many discussions I had had around the country, and the question had been asked asked, “Restitution from whom?” because a victim can only claim restitution from a rapist if he is convicted which therefore means that he will be sent to prison (Sorry we can’t use that word anymore, correctional services unit), and if he is sent “there” for what he deserves, 15 years+, how is he going to pay restitution to the victim, which means that the restitution is paid by the ‘State’ and where does the ‘State’ get it’s money from? The ‘tax payer’ you and you and you, so who pays the restitution??

<i><b>Lubners</b> staff Vanderbijlpark and guests, what a magic bunch of people, our discussion went on for two hours - sorry guys but I thoroughly enjoyed the talk and I hope you did</i>

Lubners staff Vanderbijlpark and guests, what a magic bunch of people, our discussion went on for two hours - sorry guys but I thoroughly enjoyed the talk and I hope you did

Because of the rain, if that’s the word I should use for it, I decided that I would drive the 60 kilometres home to Germiston and spend the night, once again, in a comfortable bed, not to mention have May cook me a delicious meal and so I took the R59 freeway home. One thing I miss while on the road and that is not watching TV. Tonight on the news I heard a report from our esteemed minister of education that an investigation is being launched into the ridiculously low matric pass rate.

The low pass rate has been attributed to: The low attendance rate of scholars (now referred to as learners) as well as the lack of discipline of ‘learners’. On this topic I have been involved in many discussions with, parents, teachers, policemen and woman who have given me their point of view on this subject, and they believe that: The government, by promulgating legislation which forbids parents, teachers and the police from disciplining children, have assumed the role as disciplinarians and have failed the nation in this regard.

Teachers and parents have pointed out that there is absolutely no way that they can discipline a child without being guilty of child abuse in terms of the ‘Child Abuse Act’. If one looks at the act and the bill of rights for children as reflected in the bills of right of both our South African government as well as the United Nations Bill of rights for children, a parent or teacher cannot, by law, administer corporal punishment, nor can he or she shout at a child, nor can he or she tell a child to go to her or his room and close the door, nor can he or she look at a child in such a manor that can be interpreted as instilling fear into the child without being guilty of child abuse. So the question is, please Mr. / Mrs. government official who promulgated the law which forbids a parent or teacher from disciplining a child, tell us how we are supposed to discipline a child who by his or her actions requires disciplining from time to time, discipline our children without being sent to prison for doing what a parent needs to do from time to time.

The part of the news this evening on this subject which really got my goat, was an interview with a scholar who claims that, “The teachers don’t show us enough respect”! I have friends who are teachers who tell me that ‘learners’ arrive at school when they feel like it and there is absolutely nothing they, as teachers, can do about it. They (the teachers) are also spoken to like they are dirt, sworn at and told that if they (the teachers) touch them (the learners) they will have them put in jail. So once again Mr. / Mrs. Government official and legislators of our country, please explain to our parents and teachers of South Africa, how are we are supposed to discipline our children?

Okay so while I’m on a role here, there is something I desperately need to get off my chest. I was a full supporter of US President O’Bama during his campaign for presidency and I believe that he is undoubtedly the best speaker I have ever heard in my life. But come on, please, I ask you with tears running down my legs, what has he done to deserve a ‘Nobel Peace Prize’? He has been in office for less than a year, has increased the US military force in both Afghanistan and Iraq so why does he deserve a ‘Nobel Peace Prize’. I believe that by him being awarded this prestigious award it has made a mockery of the award. I dearly look forward to your comments by way of my web comments blog or private e-mail on steve@buddyandme.co.za.

So I think that’s enough chatter for today, so I’m gong to retire to bed and build up strength to tackle another day in the life of ‘Buddy and Me’ – Searching for a solution to child rape in South Africa – So keep well, keep your feet on the ground etc etc etc, but most importantly, keep all children safe.

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

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Mon
18
Jan '10

Day 130-132: Friday to Sunday, 15-17 January 2010

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

Leave a comment


My full new itinerary including Namibia and Botswana to the end of the tour (19 May 2010).

To watch Buddy and Me in real time click here, select South Africa under “Global Fleet Logins:” in the left hand panel, enter cellphone number 0822549129 and password Buddy.

To make a donation to or information on any of the organisations involved in assisting victims of child rape and abuse, please click on one of the following links:

Beares
Lubners
Bobbi Bear Foundation (KwaZulu-Natal)
The Teddy Bear Clinic (Gauteng)
The TygerBear Foundation (Western Cape)
GRIP (Mpumalanga)
StepThru (Gauteng)

Friday morning I followed Jaco into Klerksdorp to his office, he owns the Konika Minolta outlet in the city, and from the looks of things and based on the growth of the company over the past four years he is obviously doing things right.

After thanking him and Lisindra for their truly amazing friendship and hospitality I headed out of Klerksdorp in the direction of Potchefstroom, 53 kilometres away where I arrived at 10am. Before leaving Klerksdorp, I had received a message from Blanche of the Lubners store in Sasolburg who told me that she had secured a meeting for me with Mrs. Petroline van der Merwe who is the Senior Public Prosecutor for the Eastern Free State Region at 1pm. I certainly could not pass up an opportunity to talk to a lady of her calibre and so in order to reach Sasolburg in time I unfortunately had to cut my visit to the Potchefstroom Beares store short. But I did get an opportunity to chat to the friendly staff as well as to the local press.

<i><b>Beares</b> staff Potchefstroom</i>

Beares staff Potchefstroom

I left Potchefstroom at 10 to 12 and covered the 78 kilometres to Sasolburg in record time (well for Buddy that is) arriving in Sasolburg a little after 12:30pm. My meeting with Ms. van der Merwe proved well worthwhile and she provided me with some really interesting information and also confirmed some of the info I have received to date. She also corrected some wrong information which I have been provided with during my project.

During my travels around South Africa and during my discussions with both the police and court officials, I have asked the question “Why is our conviction rate so pathetically low”, and the police have always responded with the excuse that the prosecutors prosecuting the cases of child rape are not properly qualified and are no match for the defence council employed by the State to defend the accused. The court officials I have asked the same question to almost always respond with “If you see the state of the dockets and the poor investigation of the cases produced at court by the police you will understand why the conviction rate of child rape is so low”.

When I asked Ms. Van der Merwe the same question and told her what the response from the police and the courts had been, her response was, “ Yes, in most cases the investigation by the police is very poor and yes the justice department is suffering with a very high turnover of staff, this is mainly due to the extreme pressure prosecutors are under, and the high turnover of staff is having a negative affect on the conviction rate, but the standards and qualifications of prosecutors is not low as suggested by the police, but the most important factor is that the police and court officials should stop throwing stones and shifting the blame and work together to establish a system and establish what needs to be done to correct the situation”. Man this lady is top quality and this country desperately needs more like her.

I have been involved in many discussions and have been asked the question “What is the official age of consent according to law in South Africa” and on asking this question of numerous “experts” I have been given various answers ranging from 12 years of age to 16 years of age for girls and 19 years of age for boys as well as 18 years of age for both boys and girls. When posing this question to Ms. Van der Merwe she immediately pulled out one of her many legal folders and after spending sometime paging through it and having obtained some information she still phoned her boss to ensure that her answer was the correct one, as I said “a top class lady of note”. She then confirmed that the legal age of consent for sex is: 16 years of age for both boys and girls and the age of consent for an abortion is 12 years of age. This I find quite incredible.

Once again this is a case of our government sending out mixed messages. In one law they say that a person under the age of 16 years of age may not consent to sexual activities and so any person having sexual relations with a boy or girl under the age of 16 years of age is guilty of statutory rape. Then in another law they say that should a young girl under the age of 16 participate in sexual relations and falls pregnant she can, without the consent of her parents, under go an abortion.

In many discussions, parents have told me that they have discovered; after the act, that their young daughters in the 12 to 15 age groups have under gone abortions without their knowledge after having been made pregnant by older men who have not been charged for statutory rape because of the fact that the pregnancy was kept a secret from them. I firmly believe that the South African government, by promulgating this act of law and allowing young girls to under go abortions without their parents consent, is adding and abetting statutory rape by sending the message to these young girls that “You are not allowed by law to consent to having sex, but if you do and if you fall pregnant you can keep it a secret from your parents and under go an abortion legally”, absolute madness.

The exact same goes for our HIV/Aids campaigns. We are frequently seeing campaigns on our television sets in which the message to our youth; and by youth I mean scholars not as in the definition of the word so freely used by individuals such as Julius Malema who is in his thirties and still claims to be a ‘youth’, but youth in school uniform, that it’s “okay to have sex, as long as you use a condom”. When is our government going to realise that they have to give serious consideration to the repercussions of the changes they make to legislation as well as when they open their mouths and make statements which are going to have detrimental consequences to our society and in particular to our youth, as in ‘proper youth’.

Back at the Sasolburg Lubners store, I was met by a group of people that included a senior police officer, social workers and to cap it all a gentleman by the name of Francisco Panaino (Frankie) who has written and published a book entitled ‘Frankie – a book of hope’. The book is the autobiography of the author who, as a young child, experienced sexual molestation and horrific violence. Frankie very kindly presented me with a copy of his book and even autographed it for ‘Buddy and Me’ and I for one can’t wait to get started reading it. If you wish to obtain a copy of the book you can order it as an e-book from the website: www.booke-frankie.com and you can contact Frankie on Frankie.panaino@telkomsa.net and from what I have heard and seen from paging through the book it’s definitely worth getting yourself a copy. To Frankie, keep up the great work you are doing with the rehabilitation programme you are involved with, with the correctional services, you are truly an amazing man in my eyes.

<i>Francisco Panaino (Frankie) with the book he autographed and presented me with</i>

Francisco Panaino (Frankie) with the book he autographed and presented me with

<i>Staff and guest of <b>Lubners</b> Sasolburg</i>

Staff and guest of Lubners Sasolburg

While I was talking in the Lubners store it had begun to rain, and I don’t mean a drizzle, it poured, but fortunately by the time I finished talking and had thanked Adri Wide, the store manager and in particular Blanche for the fantastic and informative day they had arranged for me in Lubners Sasolburg the rain had eased to a slight drizzle.

After a brief stop at the local Pick n’ Pay where I bought some spare ribs (which I will tell you about later) as well as some sosatis and other goodies for my nights meal, oh yes and of course a six pack of Millers and ice, I headed for a camping resort called ‘Wes Vaal’ which is situated about one kilometres below the Barrage wall on the Vaal River. When I arrived at ‘Wes Vaal’ it was raining pretty heavily and I realised that setting up tent/camp in that weather was not going to be very pleasant. Obviously because of the heavy weather nobody was in sight or manning the small office at the entrance.

After hooting, calling out and walking around; I was already so wet walking in the rain was not going to make me any wetter, I attracted the attention of a worker who said he would find someone for me. He returned about 15 minutes later and said “Baas Robbie will be with you in a few minutes” and true to word ‘Robbie’ arrived from the fields about ten minutes later. We both agreed that setting up camp in the rain would not be a good idea and that I should make use of one of the ‘cabins’. Unfortunately he was not in-charge of the resort but was confident that the owners/manager Sarie, would consent to sponsoring me a night’s accommodation under the circumstances. The cost of a nights stay in a ‘cabin’ (and I use that word very loosely) was given to me as R480-00, way out of my budget for accommodation.

I was given the key and arrived outside the ‘cabin’. One look at the cabin, not to mention what the inside looked like and coupled with the fact that no linen or bedding of any sort was provided, convinced me that at R480-00 per night, it was a rip-off and that if I had to pay that for a nights stay in what resembled a squatter camps shack, there is no way on this earth that I would pay it. The rain eventually eased up, for a while anyway, and I managed to get a fire going to braai my spare ribs and sosasti’s.

On opening the vacuum sealed spare rib packet I was almost knocked out and started gagging from the sickening smell which came from the packet. I hurled the ribs out into the river (obviously after removing them from the plastic packet which I deposited into a garbage drum a long way away from my ‘cabin/shack’) and hoped that I was not going kill a barbell or any other creature with food poisoning by throwing them into the river. This resulted in my supper being reduced to sosaties and a concoction of potatoes, onions and tomatoes washed down with a couple of Millers.

The ‘shacks’ wooden panelled sides had big gaps between the panels and when I turned over during the night I discovered the rain had entered through the gaps and my pillows were sopping wet. I woke in the morning to yet more rain and after showering and going up to the ‘office’ to establish what the decision was regarding my nights stay I was told that “If I had phoned and made a pre-arranged booking, a special rate could have been arranged for me”, and so I paid for my nights accommodation. I was intending to camp at ‘Wes Vaal’ for the next four nights, being Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights but when I was told that a nights camp fee in this over grown squatter camp is a staggering R250-00 per night I decided to count my blessings for having been ripped off for only one night and returned home to Germiston where, because of the rain, I could get my washing done and do some repairs needed on Buddy.

My night’s accommodation in my ‘squatter camp shack at Wes Vaal Resort’, the camp chair outside and ‘bedding’ is mine. No bedding, tables or chairs of any kind are provided – just a warning in case you consider going there

So having returned home for Saturday and Sunday and being able to get all my chores done, tomorrow ‘Buddy and Me’ return to the ‘Vaal Triangle’ area, this being the Vanderbijl, Vereeniging and Meyerton area where hopefully I will be able to secure better camping accommodation and be able to enjoy my visit to the Beares and Lubners store in that area.

So until tomorrow, keep your feet on the ground but reach real high for the sky and above all keep all children safe.

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

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