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Tue
25
May '10

Day 235-239: Wednesday to Sunday, 19-23 May 2010

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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My updated itinerary for Namibia and Botswana, to the end of the tour.

The PROPOSAL TO THE PRESIDENT for your perusal.

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)

Wednesday the19th May dawned yet another magnificently hot clear day in Rundu. When you consider all the damage that was done in the area recently by the floods you can’t believe that this semi-desert area can get so much rain.

I had a wonderful time meeting and chatting to the Beares staff in Rundu and once again met up with the RAM (Regional Admin Manager) of Beares, Michelle Opperman, who presented me with a signed and noted Beares mouse pad for my computer as an early birthday present for the 24th, which I will celebrate in Katima Mulilo in a few days time.

<i><b>Beares</b> staff Rundu, and once again the Beares ‘RAM’ is in the photo with the orange blouse</i>

Beares staff Rundu, and once again the Beares ‘RAM’ is in the photo with the orange blouse

<i>The main street of Rundu</i>

The main street of Rundu

After an attempt at getting someone from the police to talk to me about the child rape situation in the area and failing miserably once more, I headed back to my camp at The Ngandu safari Lodge to start preparing for my evening meal, curried chicken. I get to meet a lot of people on this project, especially foreigners and spend a lot of time chatting to them and obtaining their views and opinions, not only on the subject of child rape but many other topics as well and tonight was no exception.

Camped a few metres away from me was a couple, Sarah Woodward and Nick Hunt, who hail from the UK and have spent the last few weeks touring around the Southern African region and will be making their way to South Africa to watch the 2010 World Cup Soccer bonanza. So to Sarah and Nick thanks for the chat and friendship and I wish you well on the rest of your travels, and as you said you will be telling your friends back home to visit the ‘Buddy and Me’ website, so to all Sarah and Nick’s friends back home they are well and rearing to go for the next section of their journey.

<i>Meet Sarah and Nick</i>

Meet Sarah and Nick

Thursday morning I was up at 6:30am and after packing and showering met up with my host for the two nights at Ngandu Safari Lodge, Oswald Theart, owner of the magnificent lodge and his wife Corry and daughter Celesté, and after thanking them for their kind hospitality headed out of Rundu, destination Camp Hogo.

<i>Meet the Theart family, Oswald, Corry and daughter Celesté</i>

Meet the Theart family, Oswald, Corry and daughter Celesté

The drive to Camp Hogo involved a three kilometre drive along a rutted/corrugated gravel road, which Buddy of course really detested, and then a four and a half kilometre drive along a narrow bush road which was much better than the gravel corrugated road, and so the seven and a half kilometre drive took us forty minutes to drive.

This picture was taken on the bush road and was about three kilometres away from Camp Hogo. You can still see large pools of water in the area left over from the flood, this particular area, two kilometres from the river was a metre and a half deep in water a couple of weeks ago.

The camp is actually situated on an island, and a causeway was built, with large pipes to let the water through and this was covered with rocks and sand to form a road to the camp. Unfortunately the flood destroyed this causeway and Sarel, the owner of Camp Hogo only managed rebuild it with bricks and rocks over the past couple of days, and so it took ‘Buddy and Me’ quite sometime to cross this section of the road, very slowly.

<i>If Buddy detested the corrugated gravel road, he really hated this part</i>

If Buddy detested the corrugated gravel road, he really hated this part

But we arrived in two pieces, Buddy and me, and soon my camp was set up and I was ready to indulge in a cold beer with Sarel van der Merwe the owner of Camp Hogo, and by the way he is not the famous rally driver, he is just plain good old Sarel and a really pleasant chap at that.

<i>Camp set up so time to relax</i>

Camp set up so time to relax

<i>Time to relax</i>

Time to relax

So after the long drive and chore of setting up camp, it was time to relax over a cold frosty or two – In picture from left, yours truly, the ‘Me’ part of ‘Buddy and Me’, a local resident Schalk, Sarel behind the bar, Annie Symonds who came out to Namibia 20 years ago on holiday, met her husband Simon, who is a nature conservationist, and stayed in Namibia, and her three sons, Luke, Ryan and Aaron.

Being out in the bush meant there was no one, apart from the guests, that I could discuss the topic of child rape with and after a couple of hours bending the guests ears on the topic, the rest of the time, including Friday, was spent catching up on washing, cooking and of course trying to catch the proverbial and elusive monster Tiger fish. I did however hook into one monster but within a few seconds of hooking it, it snapped me off and escaped with my prize Rapala (Lure) never to be seen again

Saturday morning, I was up early, hoping to get an early start for my drive to Katima Mulilo, it being a drive of about 550 kilometre which I expected ‘Buddy and Me’ to do in about 7 hours and in fact it took us 7 hours 40 minutes and we arrived at the Protea Hotel in Katima Mulilo at a little after 6:15pm in the evening. Once again Jacque de Jager, the General Manager of the Walvis Bay Protea Hotel and been good to his word and had kindly arranged accommodation for me with Marcel Coetzer the General Manager of the Protea Hotel in Katima Mulilo and so when I entered my luxury room soon after booking in man did I get a surprise and welcome of note.

<i>Crossing the Quando River into the Caprivi</i>

Crossing the Quando River into the Caprivi

This is the point where the one hour time difference in Namibia changes back to South African time.

At the bridge there is a sign which states that “One must expect to encounter ‘wild’ animals”…

…the only animals I unfortunately saw was a dead Hyena which had been hit by a vehicle and a few ‘buck’.

<i>Welcome to Katima Mulilo</i>

Welcome to Katima Mulilo

<i>How’s this for a welcome for a tired and weary traveller</i>

How’s this for a welcome for a tired and weary traveller

Sunday morning I woke and moved my accommodation to my tent in the Protea Hotels lovely camping facilities. The camping facilities are right alongside the hotel facilities and so it is really comfortable.

Really lovely camping facilities right on the edge of the mighty Zambezi River

As usual I met a lot of fellow travellers and amongst these was a very friendly South African couple, Peter and Norma Barclay. Norma gave me a book to read which I am sure I am going to get many interesting hours of reading from it, it’s called ‘The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest’ by Stieg Larson.

<i>Meet Peter and Norma Barclay who recently sold their house in Kempton Park and will, when they eventually take a break from their travels, settle in Shelly Beach on the Kwa-Zulu natal South Coast. Thanks for your friendship during our brief meeting in Katima Mulilo guys and hope to meet up with you again soon, stay well</i>

Meet Peter and Norma Barclay who recently sold their house in Kempton Park and will, when they eventually take a break from their travels, settle in Shelly Beach on the Kwa-Zulu natal South Coast. Thanks for your friendship during our brief meeting in Katima Mulilo guys and hope to meet up with you again soon, stay well

I have, as I have said before, gotten into many discussions with fellow travellers on subjects totally unrelated to the topic I am involved with, namely the rape and sexual abuse of children, and one of those topics was the fact that here in Namibia all advertising, TV and signs is in English, yet everywhere one travels, the only language spoken is Afrikaans, this phenomena has been mentioned by many travellers in the country especially foreigners.

The other fact that has been raised a few times, is the fact that the governing party here in Namibia, namely ‘SWAPO’ which stands for ‘The South West Africa Peoples Organisation’, on gaining independence from South Africa, changed the name from ‘South West Africa’ to Namibia. The question being asked is, “Why, if they were going to change the name of the country on gaining independence to ‘Namibia’ did they not name their Party, ‘NPO’ (Namibian Peoples Party)?

And so that brought a close to the last four days in the lives of ‘Buddy and Me’. Hopefully tomorrow, being Monday the 24th, my birthday nogal, when I hope to catch a monster Tiger Fish as a birthday gift to myself, I will also be given the opportunity of talking to some of the local authorities on the topic of child rape, but with that wish and hope in mind, ‘Buddy and Me’ will leave you with this picture of a magnificent sunset over the mighty Zambezi River, taken from the front of my tent.

<i>It’s almost a spiritual experience sitting on the edge of this mighty river watching the sun go down</i>

It’s almost a spiritual experience sitting on the edge of this mighty river watching the sun go down

So with that tranquil thought, ‘Buddy and Me’ will wish you a good night, keep well, stay well and as usual keep all children safe.

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

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Mon
24
May '10

Day 234: Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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My updated itinerary for Namibia and Botswana, to the end of the tour.

The PROPOSAL TO THE PRESIDENT for your perusal.

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 after somewhat of a restless night following the news of Buster, my Boer Bull ‘Lion’ dog having passed away yesterday, and after a couple of pain killers for a nasty headache, I eventually got at least a couple of hours reasonable sleep, I thanked Suranda for her very kind support in the form of accommodation at her lovely ‘Courtyard Guesthouse’, and don’t forget, if you are intending to visit Grootfontein you must stay at this magic place and their contact details again are, E-mail: platinum@iway.nam and telephone and fax: Namibia – 067-240027, believe me you will not regret it.

It was only when I was about 30 kilometres out of Grootfontein on the road to Rundu, that it suddenly dawned on me that I had not taken a photo of Suranda outside her lovely guesthouse, but at least I did put a photo of the lovely court yard outside my room on my blog for the weekend on day 232, so Suranda I am terribly sorry, but unfortunately my mind was else where for the last few hours and so I apologise.

As I have already said over the last couple of weeks, unfortunately my intended internet access did not materialise, and so I have been forced to rely on the help of Good Samaritans along the way in computer shops to help me send my blog’s which I do in e-mail form and down-load onto my flash disc/memory USB thingy-mabob and e-mail them to Gail in Jo’burg so that she can post them onto my website. And so after having said all of that, the kind lady who helped me send my blog, on my arrival in Grootfontein yesterday, is Heleen Rossouw who is at the Shop Manager of Mendacom Computers & Stationery suppliers in Grootfontein. And prior to my leaving this morning I popped back into the shop and she once again helped me by sending off yesterdays blog, so Heleen thank you very much for your kind assistance, it’s truly appreciated.

The drive to Rundu was a quiet one with, as usual lots of dense bush, and a road that could have been built by someone
having shot an arrow. With the exception of a bend in the road about 10 kilometres before Rundu, I don’t think I had to turn Buddy’s steering wheel once, nor did I have to change gears apart from when I stopped to cool him and myself down a bit.

<i>A long road to go, not only to Rundu, but to Poppa falls and Katima Mulilo as well</i>

A long road to go, not only to Rundu, but to Poppa falls and Katima Mulilo as well

<i>Pretty much the typical countryside of the entire trip</i>

Pretty much the typical countryside of the entire trip

After passing the ‘Animal disease check point’ gate at Kururani, which is almost the exact half way point between Grootfontein and Rundu, being a 130 kilometres from Rundu, within a couple of hundred metres from the gate the small villages start and the roadside is populated with people from the local communities and villages, although there are still long distances of uninhabited areas between the villages.

<i>A typical village on the roadside after Kururani</i>

A typical village on the roadside after Kururani

The people in this area, unlike all the other areas I have travelled through in Namibia, are very artistic and display their crafts on the roadside, although when I stopped and asked how much a small pot was, one such as in this picture, I was told 120 Namibian Dollars (R120-00), and nearly fell on my back, when I took a picture instead I thought the guy was going to chop my head off and insisted I paid him 50 Namibian Dollars for the photo, I don’t think Buddy has ever made such a hasty pull off in all his born days.

<i>The pot I was quoted on was half the size of these</i>

The pot I was quoted on was half the size of these

<i>The owner of this lovely selection of artistic beauty was only too happy to let me take a picture of her wears</i>

The owner of this lovely selection of artistic beauty was only too happy to let me take a picture of her wears

And then finally 5 hours and 15 minutes later ‘Buddy and Me’ arrived in Rundu having driven 260 kilometres.

<i>Welcome to Rundu</i>

Welcome to Rundu

When I had woken up this morning, I had no idea as to where I was going to be staying in Rundu for my three nights intended stay in the town. (Three nights because not having fished for so long I am starting to suffer with withdrawal symptoms and desperately want to catch a Tiger Fish and so decided to take a day off and hunt down that elusive monster Tiger Fish) I had asked Sylvia Horn, the Beares store manager to make enquiries and see if a kind owner of a camping park/lodge could sponsor me camping facilities for three nights, but because the number of lodges in the area has been dramatically reduced due to recent flooding of the Kavango River, the possibility was slim and she reported back to me that she could not find anyone who could help me.

At breakfast this morning, Surunda (Courtyard Guesthouse) asked where I would be staying in Rundu and after telling her the sad storey she said “No problem, leave it to me” and disappeared. A short while later she reappeared and said “Sorted, arrangements have been made for sponsored camping facilities for you to camp for three days at ‘The Ngandu Safari Lodge’ courtesy of the owner Oswald Theart.

On arriving in Rundu, I first stopped off at the Beares store to see if they could give me directions to the ‘Ngandu Safari Lodge’ and before I could extricate myself from Buddy Sylvia appeared next to me and very excitedly told me that she had secured sponsored camping facilities for me for three days at Camp Hogo camping parkcourtesy of Sarel van der Merwe (Mmm I wonder if he is the famous rally driver) which is about 12 kilometres on a gravel/bush road outside of town and situated right on the rivers edge so I that could catch that elusive Tiger Fish. So now I gad two places to choose from.

I decided that because I was going to be working in town for two days, and didn’t want to subject Buddy to excessive abuse by driving him back and forwards to town on the gravel/bush road, I would first camp at Ngandu for the first two nights, and then move over to Camp Hogo for the next two nights before heading north to Katima Mulilo. So with this in mind I set up camp at the Ngandu Safari Lodge, and what a lovely campsite and lodge this turned out to be. Each campsite has its own gazebo and the ablutions are always clean and even have hot water, wow bonus!

My campsite at Ngandu Safari Lodge

<i>Just across the river is the Angolan village of Calai</i>

Just across the river is the Angolan village of Calai

The Ngandu Safari Lodge also has lovely accommodation in the form of chalets with a full restaurant, swimming pool and one of the most beautiful pubs I have seen with magnificent carvings of Bushmen done in the wood panelling. There is also a model of a Tiger Fish which weighed 16.something, caught by a lady on Kariba Dam and was a world record.

So that’s all for now, I don’t know when I am going to get an opportunity to send this off to Gail so she can post it on my blog, but hopefully it will be soon. So until next time, when hopefully I will have had the opportunity to speak to some of the authorities in the area and obtain more info on what is happening in Namibia as far a the rape and sexual abuse of children is concerned, keep well, keep safe and above all keep all children safe.

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

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Wed
19
May '10

Day 233: Monday, 17 May 2010

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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My updated itinerary for Namibia and Botswana, to the end of the tour.

The PROPOSAL TO THE PRESIDENT for your perusal.

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 I woke to another bright and sunny day here in Grootfontein. After a lovely breakfast made by Suranda, owner of ‘The Courtyard Guesthouse’ where I am being kindly hosted accommodation, I headed into town and visited the Beares staff. The manager, Ray de Bruin, arranged a meeting for me with a detective named Helena Rheent who is involved in the investigation of rape of both children and adult woman. When I walked into her office it turned out that she had in fact spoken to me on my last visit to Grootfontein on the 15th May 2006, four years and two days ago to the day.

Amazingly she recognised me and immediately on my enterring her office reminded me that she had in fact spoken to me on my last visit, only on checking my ‘Book of Goodwill’ did I see her name and the comments she had written four years ago, quite incredible. So this was great, I at least met someone who was prepared to talk to me.

She confirmed that the Namibian government is supporting the mothers who report the rape of their children, particularly in the case where the rapist is the father or step father etc, and this support is in the form of a grant of about 100 – 120 Namibian Dollars per child in the family per month (which is equal to the same amount of South African Rands or I think roughly 14 US Dollars).

Unfortunately she confirmed that in spite of this, the mothers are still not reporting the rape of their children by fathers and stepfathers because according to them the grant is not sufficient enough to look after the family when compared to the money brought in by the father/stepfather. As is occurring in South Africa, the fathers and in particular the stepfathers, by far, form the greatest number of culprits responsible for the rape of their own children.

Helena confirmed that the police very seldom get a report of a ‘child’ rape (Child being under the age of 12 years of age) and that the cases which take up most of their time is the rape of teenage girls and adult woman, and that these are almost always alcohol induced with the teenagers and woman partaking in the drinking and celebrating prior to ‘the rape’. But once again the fact that the police do not get many ‘child’ rape cases reported, is not because they are not occurring, it’s purely because they are not being reported.

One of the other issues I discussed with her was the conviction rape of child rape cases and she confirmed that this is “pretty good” and that there have been some reasonably good sentences being passed down by the courts over the last few years and these included sentences averaging between 10 and 15 years imprisonment. However she went on to say that unfortunately at the celebration of important days in Namibia, the government, as is done in South Africa, celebrates by granting amnesty to convicted prisoners and releasing them back into society long before their sentences are up, and these include child rapists.

On this point we discussed comments which were made by various Judges and Magistrates in South Africa who I have had the pleasure of chatting to over the last few years, who stated that they do not know why they are required to hand down a sentence on a convicted felon, because whatever the sentence is that they as Judges and Magistrates pass down is over ruled by the parole board and the Correctional Services board, and so why don’t they as Judges and Magistrates merely listen to the case and hand down a verdict and let the parole board and Correctional Services board decide on how long the convicted felon will stay in prison, and so based on the current system, both of us agreed with the Judges and Magistrates on this point.

The final point of discussion was surrounding the fact that there are no support facilities for child rape victims in Grootfontein. According to Helena, a child rape victim has to be taken to the Tsumeb to a small SOS NGO in Tsumeb for help. Incredible, so this proves that there is a great need for a ‘Thuthuzela Care Centre’ system as described in my ‘Proposal to the President – A Solution to the Rape and Sexual Abuse of Children’ in Namibia, because it is not only here in Grootfontein that I have been told of this shocking situation.

After my interesting chat with Helena, I returned to the Beares store where I had a chat with the staff and was presented with their comments in my ‘Beares book’ as well as a gift, a lovely pen and pencil set. Thanks guy’s that was really amazing, my first gift from a Beares store staff.

<i>The whole group of smiling <b>Beares</b> staff of Grootfontein</i>

The whole group of smiling Beares staff of Grootfontein

"><i>These are the ladies who were instrumental in putting compiling the comments made in my <b>‘Beares book’</b></i>

These are the ladies who were instrumental in putting compiling the comments made in my ‘Beares book’

I was invited by a lady who was walking passed the Beares store to pop into her office later for a chat. Her name is Mrs Kayinga and she is a registered Social Worker and works out of the State Hospital here in Grootfontein, so at 4pm I popped into the hospital for our chat, and what a chat it turned out to be.

Firstly, this is one amazing woman and in my humble opinion should be in government, not sitting in an office here in Grootfontein doing social worker functions; she should be heading up the Social Worker system. What she told me totally blew my mind. Apparently the government here in Namibia is still working on the ‘old’ 1960 Children’s act and it has never been up-dated. The only legislation which has been up-dated since Namibia gained independence in 1991 is the ‘Child Status Bill’ which mainly covers the issues of guardianship and inheritance.

There is no support facilities as in support structures providing child rape victims with professional counselling and in fact there are only approximately 100 registered social workers in the entire country. All child rape victims in fact have to go to Windhoek from where the only NGO in the country, namely ‘PEACE’ operate from. There are other small organisations such as the one in Tsumeb which I mentioned earlier in this blog, but the services provided are not what they should be.

One of the topics we discussed at length is the fact that parents all over Namibia (and this includes South Africa and all the other countries of Africa as well) are still selling their young daughters off to older men for ‘Labolla’ (payment), and these young children, girls, start at the tender age of 10 years of age, and the governments of all of the African countries are accepting this, claiming that it’s their “culture”. If you want to read my take on this ‘culture’ storey you should read my blog for the 23 march (Day 197). But they can call it what they like, but it remains human trafficking in its worst form, ‘Child Trafficking’.

So my message to the governments of Africa is: “You complain, and to the rest of the world appear to be supporting the fight against human trafficking in the form which involves the stealing of human beings and taking them across the countries borders to Europe or wherever they are removed to for purposes of prostitution etc, but the worst form of human trafficking, child trafficking, is happening right under your noses in your own countries, with your blessing and disguising it by saying that it’s the peoples culture, shame on you”.

Following my really interesting chat with Mrs. Kayinga, I drove through Grootfontein’s Main Street in order to reach ‘The Courtyard Guesthouse’ where as I said I am kindly being hosted for my stay in the town, and unfortunately it was peak hour so the traffic was chaotic.

<i>How’s this for peak hour traffic, Grootfontein’s main street, <b>at peak hour</b></i>

How’s this for peak hour traffic, Grootfontein’s main street, at peak hour

The local newspaper phoned and asked if I could e-mail them the details of the project and a photo, because unfortunately they had been too busy during the day to meet with me for an interview and to get a photo, obviously there are some really exiting things happening in Grootfontein, so I got the big Beares bear out and had this photo taken with the bear, the store manager, Ray de Bruin and yours truly).

<i>I’m sure I don’t need to point out who is who in this zoo</i>

I’m sure I don’t need to point out who is who in this zoo

I was just starting to write about another subject which was raised in a conversation today, but unfortunately I just received a call from May in Jo’burg who informed me that my other good buddy, my Boer Bull lion of a dog, Buster, was found dead in his kennel when she arrived home from work, apparently from a heart attack. So I am going to stop my blog now as I just don’t feel up to writing any longer.

But what I want to say is, Buster my boy I know you have been suffering for a while with your front left leg and other problems, but you were a lion, a great big bear with a wonderful heart, and a wonderful companion, the worst thing you could ever do to anyone is lick them to death, in spite of the fact everyone was petrified of you. I will miss you my boy, but you are safe and out of pain now. God bless you my boy, and thank you for all the good times. To May, I’m sorry you had to find him like that and I’m sorry I couldn’t be there to bury him; my thoughts are with you too.

<i><b>Buster</b> my boy, rest in peace</i>

Buster my boy, rest in peace

<i>And I know <b>Missy</b> will miss you too</i>

And I know Missy will miss you too

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

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Tue
18
May '10

Day 230-232: Friday to Sunday, 14-16 May 2010

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

Leave a comment


My updated itinerary for Namibia and Botswana, to the end of the tour.

The PROPOSAL TO THE PRESIDENT for your perusal.

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 started off with firstly waking up to yet another beautiful, sunny day, a bright blue sky, a visit to the Beares store in Ondangwa, followed by a trip to the two Beares stores in Oshakati, 35 kilometres north of Ondangwa. But first I thanked Schalk van Niekerk, the General Manager and Maria, of the Ondangwa Protea Hotel, for their friendship and generous support to the project in the form of the sponsored luxury accommodation in the lovely ‘Ondangwa Protea Hotel’.

<i>Schalk van Niekerk, Maria and me, I’m sure I don’t need to point out who is who</i>

Schalk van Niekerk, Maria and me, I’m sure I don’t need to point out who is who

Then it was off to meet the friendly guys and ladies of Beares Ondangwa. Ondangwa is quite a difficult place to describe. The people are friendly, and there is definitely some big things planned for the area, what with all the lovely centres being built and a few new businesses’s being established, but there is something missing, and for the life of me I could not put my finger on it. The town is just not developing at the same rate as the other towns I have visited in Namibia and I don’t know why not, and everyone I spoke to seems to agree with me.

<i>Meet the glamorous RAM, and that by the way stands for ‘<b>R</b>egional <b>A</b>dmin <b>M</b>anager’, just in case you were wondering, Michelle Opperman, who happened to be visiting the Ondangwa store at the same time as me</i>

Meet the glamorous RAM, and that by the way stands for ‘Regional Admin Manager’, just in case you were wondering, Michelle Opperman, who happened to be visiting the Ondangwa store at the same time as me

<i>The <b>Beares</b> staff of Ondangwa</i>

The Beares staff of Ondangwa

From Ondangwa ‘Buddy and Me’ continued on our journey to Oshakati, which as I said is 35 kilometres north of Ondangwa. Here ‘Buddy and Me’ first visited the great guys forming the team of Beares Oshakati (1), this being in the Etango Shopping Centre, where I was fortunate enough to meet my first Beares Regional Director, Willie Steyn, and the Regional Manager Boete Losper. Man I couldn’t believe it, three larnies in one day, first Michelle – the ‘RAM’ of the region and then Boete the Regional Manager and to crown it all, Willie the Regional Director.

<i>Meet the staff of the <b>Beares</b> Etango Centre and the larnies of the region, Boete on the extreme left and the other big larnie, looking cool and collected in spite of the really heavy pressure job he has, is Willie Steyn on Boete’s left</i>

Meet the staff of the Beares Etango Centre and the larnies of the region, Boete on the extreme left and the other big larnie, looking cool and collected in spite of the really heavy pressure job he has, is Willie Steyn on Boete’s left

From the Etango Centre ‘Buddy and Me’ drove the couple of hundred metres to the second Beares store which is situated in the ‘Oupa’ Frans Indongwa Centre. Here I was welcomed by a really great bunch of individuals. The acting manager, Bernadine Goliath really made me feel at home and soon had half the ladies of the store involved in producing what they believe is the best entry in my Beares managers/store visit book, and I must say to those Beares staff still to come, you have quite a job on your hands to match or beat the entry these ladies did in the book.

I started this book on my last project, but this project the book has taken on a completely new dimension, and one needs to see it to appreciate it. The comments and messages from the store managers and staff have been quite an inspiration to me, especially on days and nights that I have, after having a particularly bad day, not that I have many of them, but we all experience them, especially after being involved in a project/crusade associated with the devastating facts of the subject I am involved with, namely the total and calculated destruction of a child’s life by way of rape and sexual abuse. But to Bernadine and your dedicated staff, you have my sincere and appreciated thanks for your kind words and effort in beautifying the Beares book. To Andrea, Tony and Bev at Beares head office; you have the first book which contains the first 121 stores messages on this project, well the second book will knock your boots and socks off.

<i>This is also the first picture taken of <b>Beares</b> staff actually holding the page containing the message to <b>‘Buddy and Me’</b> so to Bernadine and the staff of <b>Beares</b> in Oshakati <b>Frans Indongwa Centre</b>, thank you, your message is greatly and sincerely appreciated</i>

This is also the first picture taken of Beares staff actually holding the page containing the message to ‘Buddy and Me’ so to Bernadine and the staff of Beares in Oshakati Frans Indongwa Centre, thank you, your message is greatly and sincerely appreciated

On my last trip to the Oshakati area which was on my ‘African Odyssey’ project while ‘Searching for a Solution to Child Rape’, I had stayed over in a small guest house called the ‘Hilma MpinganaTshilongo-Pauly Guest House’ which is owned and run by ‘The Evangelical Lutheran Church’ in Namibia, ‘The Western Diocese’. After finishing my visits to the two Beares stores in Oshakati, I stopped off at a couple of places offering accommodation, but all proved far too expensive for my meagre budget and so not being able to secure sponsored accommodation remembered the Hilma Mpingana Guest House and sought it out.

When I located it, I pulled up at the front door and after knocking on the front door it was opened by the same lady who had managed the place on my last visit, Ester. On seeing me and Buddy parked behind me, immediately got this big grin on her face and said “Steve! My goodness how are you”. Well when someone greets you like that after not having seen you for four years, you must know that you must have made a hell of an impression on the individual. To cut a long story short, she welcomed me in and so that is where I spent my weekend.

<i>Meet Ester, the manger of the <b>‘Hilma Mpingana Guest House</b> – Ongwadiva / Oshakati</i>

Meet Ester, the manger of the ‘Hilma Mpingana Guest House – Ongwadiva / Oshakati

<i>The whole complex, with Buddy and the trailer securely tucked away on the left</i>

The whole complex, with Buddy and the trailer securely tucked away on the left

To put a cap on this incredible story, after getting settled in, Ester produced the Beares teddy bear I had given her on my last visit, as I usually do to people who help me during this project, and as I did with Ester on my last visit, and the bear was in immaculate condition, she had obviously treasured it.

Saturday was spent, apart from driving around the area chatting to the local community, catching up with my washing, yep you might not think it but I do this chore on a regular basis, after all I don’t have a washer-woman accompanying me, so washing it was.

<i>And here’s the proof, and it was done the difficult way nogal, a plastic basin and a lot of back breaking effort</i>

And here’s the proof, and it was done the difficult way nogal, a plastic basin and a lot of back breaking effort

<i>and here’s the finished product</i>

and here’s the finished product

Apart from this chore, of course a lot of time, because of my poor typing skills, was spent doing my blog’s, oh and cooking and planning the next project. During the late afternoon while I was sitting on the front veranda, map in hand as usual, planning the next project, and generally just enjoying the moment, Ester came out and made the comment “Steve you never sit still and do nothing, you are always busy with something, even when you are sitting still, do you never rest?”

<i>Enjoying the peace and tranquillity of the moment</i>

Enjoying the peace and tranquillity of the moment

But I was soon rewarded and considered myself blessed to be able to experience yet another amazing sunset in Africa, and believe me, at this point I just sat in wonder, not doing a thing, just admiring a beautiful picture materialising in front of my eyes, you have to see it to appreciate it.

<i>This is truly worth all the heartache and sad moments associated with undertaking a project of this nature and subject</i>

This is truly worth all the heartache and sad moments associated with undertaking a project of this nature and subject

<i>And of course everyone has to eat sometime, so it was soon back to work, cooking</i>

And of course everyone has to eat sometime, so it was soon back to work, cooking

Tonight it was fried chicken with garlic, ginger, lots of cayenne pepper and onions, with a few potatoes thrown in for good measure, man it was good. Ester’s comment was that she has never seen a man cook, and said that in all the years that she has been married her husband has never cooked once. I explained that if I couldn’t or didn’t I would definitely end up starving to death.

There is a strange phenomenon about the roads in Oshakati, and it is only in this town that I have ever experienced it and that is that all car tyres squeak on the road surface. When I first heard it I thought my tyres were maybe soft, but I noticed the sound coming from every car that passed me or pulled up next to me at a traffic light or stop street. It’s really weird and at one point I stopped and actually studied the road surface and could not detect anything significantly different to any other tar road surface. So if anyone can explain this phenomenon please email me, I would dearly like to know what causes it.

This morning, Sunday the 16th May dawned yet another beautiful day, although for a change it was rather chilly and when I drove out of the Oasis Guest House after thanking Hilda for her kind friendship and hospitality, I was wearing my jacket for the first time in quite sometime, but within and hour and a half the jacket came off and it was once again blistering hot. The 358 kilometre trip back to Tsumeb and then on to Grootfontein, took ‘Buddy and Me’ five and a half hours to drive with us arriving in Grootfontein at a little after 2pm.

<i>Looking back from a railway bridge towards Ondangwa and Oshakati, about 300 kilometres away, typical countryside through the entire trip. Tsumeb is 4 kilometres to the left</i>

Looking back from a railway bridge towards Ondangwa and Oshakati, about 300 kilometres away, typical countryside through the entire trip. Tsumeb is 4 kilometres to the left

<i>Welcome to Grootfontein</i>

Welcome to Grootfontein

While I was in Swakopmund and was hosted accommodation by Loraine Cooper of ‘Footprints’, she had contacted another good Samaritan by the name of Suranda who together with her husband Dirk Grundeling, owns ‘The Courtyard Guesthouse’ in Grootfontein and who on hearing about the project and the fact that I needed two nights accommodation during my visit to Grootfontein, immediately offered me accommodation on a sponsored basis. So what can I say, yep I am definitely blessed with meeting so many incredibly wonderful people.

(Pic 83 – <i>This is the ‘court yard’ taken from the front door of my room, a really lovely place with tremendously friendly and hospitable people as well</i>

(Pic 83 – This is the ‘court yard’ taken from the front door of my room, a really lovely place with tremendously friendly and hospitable people as well

The Courtyard Guesthouse contact details for when you visit Grootfontein and need a great and friendly place to stay is: e-mail: platinum@iway.na Tel & fax: 067-240027

To close off my blog for the weekend, I would like to say that if I had thought that the crime of child rape is being swept under the carpet and covered up in South Africa; here in Namibia it’s even worse. A visit to the Oshakati police station in an attempt to talk to someone on the subject once again proved a waist of time, as was the case in Otjiewarongo. Nobody would speak to me and I was in fact told in no uncertain terms that I must not speak to “anyone” on this subject. When I asked if there were any NGO’s in the area, or child welfare organisations who provide support for child rape victims I was given a look that could kill and it was again emphasised that “nobody” is authorised to talk to me about this subject. End of storey goodbye!

And so all that is left for me to formulate an idea on what is occurring in this country as far as the rape and sexual abuse of children is concerned, are the comments and opinions which have been given to me by the members of the communities I have chattered to in the Ondangwa/Oshakati and other areas who have confirmed that although they are aware that the rape of young children is occurring, they believe that the rape of teenage and adult woman is occurring on a much larger scale. So with that comment, be it good or bad, I must leave it for now, who knows maybe I will get lucky in Grootfontein and meet a friendly cop or individual from an NGO who is prepared to talk to me on the subject of child rape in Namibia.

So from ‘Buddy and Me’ here in Grootfontein, we wish you a good night for this Sunday night the 16th May, and hope you have a safe and really productive week, and above all, keep all children safe.

Caring regards from
‘Buddy and Me’ (Steve Heath)
Please continue sending your comments and opinions to: steve@buddyandme.co.za. I’m going to try and get to an internet café tomorrow and see if I can get into my emails and hopefully respond to all those who are awaiting responses. So hang in there I promise to respond as soon as I can.

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Sat
15
May '10

Day 228-229: Wednesday and Thursday, 12-13 May 2010

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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My updated itinerary for Namibia and Botswana, to the end of the tour.

The PROPOSAL TO THE PRESIDENT for your perusal.

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)

This morning (Wednesday the 12th May), I was woken by bright dazzling sunshine beaming into my bedroom window. Usually, in fact I think I could confirm that every morning, I wake before the sun rises at between 5:30 and a quarter to 6, and once awake cannot go back to sleep and so end up making coffee and start planning my day, or rather putting the finishing touches to my days plans, but this morning, when I woke at 10 to 7, the sun was shinning brightly. Fortunately this morning I did not have to pack my tent and load my trailer, all I had to do was shower, pack my over night bag and sit down to a scrumptious breakfast provided by the Makalani Hotel staff.

After thanking Louw Le Roux, the hotel Manager and his staff for their kind and generous support and hospitality in the form of amazing accommodation, I bid them farewell and headed for the Beares store where I met Leon, the manager and his friendly staff. I spent sometime with the staff chatting about the project and how they can help by spreading the word of the website to all their friends and family members.

I have contacted Oprah via her website comments blog and asked her for assistance and support to the project by way of donating one US Dollar for every time someone logs onto the ‘Buddy and Me’ website, so if she agrees I need thousands of people spreading the word of the www.buddyandme.co.za website. I am also getting a lot of people emailing me and asking me to email them the ‘Buddy and Me’ flyer/brochure so that they can email it to all the people on their address book. SO CLICK THIS LINK TO DOWNLOAD IT.

<i>Tsumeb <b>Beares</b> staff</i>

Tsumeb Beares staff

A short way up the road from the Beares store is the Bank of Namibia and these guys proved to me beyond any shadow of a doubt that crime in Namibia does not exist, well when compared to South Africa that is, and this photo proves it!

<i>Can you believe it, a mobile ATM!!</i>

Can you believe it, a mobile ATM!!

Hell this wouldn’t last an hour in South Africa without the vehicle and mobile ATM unit being hi-jacked. I mean, in South Africa they use explosives to blow the things up when they are built into the walls of banks, in shopping centres and service stations, a mobile ATM being towed by a car would be like handing a kid a bar of chocolate.

The last time I visited Tsumeb, I was really impressed with the cleanliness of the town and so after four years it was a pleasure to visit the town once again and see that it is still exactly the same and has not deteriorated to the filthy hovels so many of our small towns in South Africa have over the past few years.

<i>The main street of Tsumeb</i>

The main street of Tsumeb

<i>This photo was taken from the same spot just in the opposite direction of the beautifully clean and huge park</i>

This photo was taken from the same spot just in the opposite direction of the beautifully clean and huge park

While walking down the main street trying to find a computer place like Gerrit’s iTech in Otjiewarongo or internet café to email my blog to Gail – unfortunately the individual in the only one in town did not have a clue how to do it and would not let me try – I was approached by a number of foreign tourists who had seen me driving to Tsumeb and had seen me driving around the town and asked about details on child rape, especially regarding the situation in South Africa. A lot of them have travelled pretty extensively around Africa and when I asked them if they had visited South Africa they were very hesitant and confirmed that although they were hoping to, they confirmed that they had not made a final decision and when asked why, I was told that they were a bit hesitant because of the crime situation in South Africa, and this literally on the eve of the 2010 World Cup Soccer fiasco.

The drive to Ondangwa involves a trip of 240 kilometres and at the pace ‘Buddy and Me’ travel this would mean a trip of about 4 hours. I did not plan on travelling the whole way to Ondangwa because tomorrow, Thursday the 13th May, is a public holiday and so I planned on stopping off at a ‘cheap’ place to stay, with emphasis on the word ‘cheap’ maybe a campsite or cheap lodge somewhere after the half way point. So at 12pm I bid Leon and his staff goodbye and took to the road, destination somewhere between Tsumeb and Ondangwa.

Since entering Namibia way down South and having travelled a couple of thousand kilometres through the country so far, the roads between the major towns and cities are very desolate. The countryside consists purely of dense bush and shrubs and this is for kilometres in all directions. During the drives so far I have not seen any signs of population or so much as one individual on the roadside and have not seen one village or hut the entire time, even cars and trucks have been few and far between, but after passing the permanent police road block at Oshivelo, which is 90 kilometres after leaving Tsumeb, this changed dramatically.

Immediately after passing the road block – where the cops spent all their time walking around Buddy, touching him and shaking their heads in wonder at this “crazy little car” and asking me where I had travelled with “this wheel barrow on four wheels” and didn’t even so much as ask me for my drivers licence – the area became very populated with village after village and lots of people shouting greetings and waving when ‘Buddy and Me’ passed by. My right arm was in a permanent state of, elbow on the side of the body and hand waiving, hell after awhile I came to realize what the Queen of England feels like when she drives through the streets waving to the masses (right).

<i>A typical view of the countryside and small villages along the way to Ondangwa, every building you can see is a pub/bar</i>

A typical view of the countryside and small villages along the way to Ondangwa, every building you can see is a pub/bar

Within the first couple of hundred metres of passing the permanent police road block at Oshivelo, one encounters the first of literally hundreds of buildings/shacks and other forms of abode which house what is undoubtedly the biggest industry in the entire region, all the way to Ondangwa and from what I can remember from my last trip to the area, continues all the way to Oshakati, and that is the business of pubs/bars. There is literally a pub/bar every hundred metres or so, and it’s quite fascinating checking out all the names to these establishments. These include names such as, ‘Mine and Yours Bar’, ‘Los Vagos International Bar’, (and by the way that is how they spell it) I couldn’t help smiling and at times had a good laugh at the names of the establishments. Of course I had to stop and indulge in a local beer ‘Tafel Lager’ at one pub, I mean it was blistering hot and didn’t want to stand the risk of dehydrating. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

I chose a pub called ‘Paradise Pub’ which appeared nice and quiet and was so when I initially stopped, but within minutes of me stopping, taking a picture and locking my camera and other goodies up in my ‘safe box’, the place was swamped with the local community. The owner obviously loved it and offered to buy me as many beers as I wanted if I would stay because Buddy was attracting attention, not to mention business, like the place had never seen before.

<i><b>‘Paradise Pub’</b>, absolute paradise?</i>

‘Paradise Pub’, absolute paradise?

The part that really fascinated me was how everyone was so willing to speak to me on the subject of child rape, and it was said by one woman that “The rape of woman and children in the area is increasing every day because so much alcohol is being sold in the area”, this was said before she took another sip of her beer. Although everyone confirmed that the rape of small children, as in children under the age of 12, is occurring, they believe that the rape of teenagers and adult woman is definitely much higher than that of small children. For me it’s always fascinating to hear the men confirming that rape in an area, such as the one I was in, is very bad, and wonder how many of them are guilty of that exact offence.

It was also confirmed that there are no support facilities of any kind for victims of rape in these out of the way areas and the only facilities and support structures are provided in the major centres, the closest for this particular area being in Tsumeb, which is about 140 kilometres away. A woman did however say that she ‘thinks’ there is a support facility in Oshakati, which is closer at about 100 kilometres away, so I look forward to visiting there on Friday and hopefully talking to someone and to get confirmed information on the situation.

As I said, I was intending to stop somewhere along the road between Tsumeb and Ondangwa and sleep over, but I didn’t find anywhere to stay over within the distance I wanted to be from Ondangwa and so continued through to Ondangwa. Jacques de Jager, the General Manager of the Protea Hotel in Walvis Bay who had so kindly provided me with top notch accommodation in Walvis Bay, arranged accommodation for me in Ondangwa with Schalk van Niekerk, the General Manager of the Ondangwa Protea Hotel, the accommodation however was arranged for tomorrow night (Thursday night the 13th), and so as I drove into the Protea Hotel grounds I was holding both thumbs very tightly and praying that Schalk was going to be able to help me out. I explained to Tomas the receptionist who I was and on checking his records he confirmed that I was booked in for tomorrow night.

I explained my predicament and in seconds Schalk was on the line welcoming me to the hotel and instructed Tomas to book me in for an extra night. I know I have said this many times, but I’m afraid I have to say it again, it’s incredible how many amazing people I am blessed to meet on this project/crusade of mine, and so once again I have met yet another incredible person in the form of Sckalk van Niekerk, Manager of the Ondangwa Protea Hotel.

<i>The </b>Ondangwa Protea Hotel</b></i>

The Ondangwa Protea Hotel

Thursday the 13th May (today) was a public holiday here in Namibia, and so I spent the day driving around the area. It’s hard to believe that this area, about 20 years ago was probably one of the hottest, as in military action, operational areas in Africa, probably the hottest being where I will be visiting for my birthday on the 24th, namely Katima Mulilo, but right now the place is peaceful and the people are incredibly friendly.

A short way out of Ondangwa on the Oshakati road, I came across a pub, that’s actually an understatement because as I said there is one virtually every 100 metres, but this one had a name that really ‘hit home’ for me. I have mentioned previously about a friend of mine, Kevin Whitney who owns a pub in Tulisa Park/Jo’burg called “Diversity Pub and Club”. Well this pub that caught my eye is also called “Diversity Park Pub”, and so I could not resist stopping and indulging in a beer.

<i>Kev you need to check this place out, it’s really cool</i>

Kev you need to check this place out, it’s really cool

<i>And the owner, Alpheus, here with me, sends his regards and says you need to visit his ‘Diversity’ sometime</i>

And the owner, Alpheus, here with me, sends his regards and says you need to visit his ‘Diversity’ sometime

The other interesting spot I saw just outside town is something I have mentioned to family and friends numerous times and I have seen this so many times but I keep forgetting to take a photo to show them what I am talking about and that is the frequently found roadside butchery.

<i>So here it is guys, the infamous ‘African’ road side butchery</i>

So here it is guys, the infamous ‘African’ road side butchery

I have to admit that I did, while travelling through Africa on my ‘African Odyssey’ project, purchase chunks of meat from the roadside butchery’s on a number of occasions, and can confirm that I am still alive, but here in Namibia there are a number of top chain stores such as Spar and Shop-rite and Pick ʼn Pay where one can buy good meat at reasonable prices, so I tend to stick to them.

Before I close off, this has been probably one of my longest blog’s to date, but it did cover two days so I hope I am forgiven, but I would like to mention that this evening I watched an incredibly interesting movie on the ‘Mnet action channel’ called ‘Silent Fall’ which was about the severe mental stress associated with child rape. This is a factor which has been pushed under the carpet for years by mothers who have forced their kids, who have been raped, particularly by fathers and other family members, to live with the mental stress by not reporting it and depriving the child of getting the proper and desperately needed support and counselling it needs. I have mentioned this in my ‘Proposal to the President’ in my ‘Solution to Stopping the Rape and Sexual Abuse of Children’ in South Africa and identified the fact that I personally believe that it is this exact failure of mothers to report the rape of their children that has led to the extremely high antisocial behaviour and crime situation we are experiencing in South Africa. So if you missed the movie I can tell you it is well worth watching.

So now it’s time to sign off and hopefully I can find someone with internet so that I can send my blog’s off to Gail so she can update my website. I also hope to get to an internet café soon so that I can respond to a lot of emails I know need my attention. So I apologise to those people who have emailed me and not received responses, but I will hopefully be able to do it soon.

So stay well, stay safe and above all KEEP ALL CHILDREN SAFE.

Caring regards from
‘Buddy and Me’ (Steve Heath)
Please keep sending your comments and opinions to: steve@buddyandme.co.za. I promise to respond soon.

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Sat
15
May '10

Day 227: Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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My updated itinerary for Namibia and Botswana, to the end of the tour.

The PROPOSAL TO THE PRESIDENT for your perusal.

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)

Last night I had a wonderful nights sleep and as usual my tent was open because the fly net front flap’s zip (damn that’s a tongue twister) broke about four months ago and so because I can’t sleep with the solid canvas flap closed, I kind of get claustrophobic with it closed, and also if it’s closed its completely dark and if the sun doesn’t wake me I will probably end up sleeping all day, my tent remained open. So I was up just before 5:30 (6:30 SA time) and sat outside my tent sipping on a cup of coffee watching the sun rise, pure magic, all I needed to round it off to be a perfect setting was a fishing rod in my hand.

Close by to my camp was a couple who were camping, well I don’t know if the word ‘camping’ suites what they are doing, because they are doing it in style with a lovely caravan and really smart 4X4, but I suppose when you have worked as hard as they have all your life you deserve to reap the benefits. They were Tom and Maggie Matthis who hail from Polokwane and who have been spending the last few years touring around Africa and experiencing the amazing beauties this incredible continent has to offer.

<i>Meet Tom and Maggie Matthis, hey guys you promised to keep in touch so I’m going to hold to it</i>

Meet Tom and Maggie Matthis, hey guys you promised to keep in touch so I’m going to hold to it

After stopping off at Gerrit de Vos’s iTech shop to send off my blog to Gail so she can up-date my website, I stopped off at the Beares store to bid farewell to Petru and her friendly staff until we meet again on the next project and before tackling the 180 kilometre drive to Tsumeb. Now 180 kilometres might sound a short distance to the average motorist, but to ‘Buddy and Me’ this involves a three and a quarter hour drive. Everyone in Tsumeb kept telling me that the drive to Tsumeb is only an hour and fifteen minutes, but they couldn’t understand that this is Buddy we talking about, and so the drive is much longer. ‘Buddy and Me’ average 60 kilometres an hour and so I must allow ONE HOUR for every 60 kilometres we travel, and today was no exception. We left Otjiewarongo at 10 past 10 in the morning and arrived in Tsumeb at half past 1 in the afternoon, and that was with three short stops of about 10 minutes each to cool down Buddy’s oil.

The drive was a really enjoyable one, although the countryside was pretty monotonous with kilometre after kilometre of flat dense bush for as far as I could see in all directions. Pretty much the same as the previous trip to Otjiewarongo from Okahandja, but being out in the bush and visiting the country towns is far better than being in the cities any day.

<i>This photo was taken from the top of a bridge, fortunately there was a railway- line which forced them to build a bridge and so <b>‘Buddy and Me’</b> had a slight incline and a bend in the road nogal, and from here you can see how far you can see into the distance, almost into next week</i>

This photo was taken from the top of a bridge, fortunately there was a railway- line which forced them to build a bridge and so ‘Buddy and Me’ had a slight incline and a bend in the road nogal, and from here you can see how far you can see into the distance, almost into next week

Along our route, actually 110 kilometres after leaving Otjiewarongo, ‘Buddy and Me’ passed through the “metropolitan City” of Otavi. Now this is definitely one of those places that if you blink when passing through you will definitely miss, but be that as it may they have a filling station and a Spar, so I filled up Buddy’s tank, again, and we continued on our merry way.

<i>Welcome to the “metropolitan City of Otavi”, what you see in the back ground is pretty much what Otavi consists of, but as usual the people there are ultra friendly, as are all the people, or rather the far majority of those, I have met in Namibia so far</i>

Welcome to the “metropolitan City of Otavi”, what you see in the back ground is pretty much what Otavi consists of, but as usual the people there are ultra friendly, as are all the people, or rather the far majority of those, I have met in Namibia so far

After leaving Otavi and 60 kilometres from Tsumeb, the countryside changed into what ‘Buddy and Me’ really enjoy, lots of hills, more dense bush and I actually had to turn the steering wheel at times to negotiate the bends in the road, and at one stage, about 20 kilometres from Tsumeb, I had to change gears, from 4th to 3rd and then even to 2nd to get up a hill, amazing! And so we entered Tsumeb.

<i>Welcome to Tsumeb</i>

Welcome to Tsumeb

Having arrived in this, what I regarded as the most beautiful and cleanest town I had had the pleasure of visiting on my ‘African Odyssey’ project, the first point of action was to find out where I would be spending the night. My intention was to spend two nights in Tsumeb, hopefully camping at the lovely municipal camping grounds I had been sponsored camping facilities at on my last visit to the town, but on arriving at the Beares store I was told by the manager, Leon, that the resort had been taken over by a private family/organisation and that on making enquiries about sponsoring two nights camping for ‘Buddy and Me’ they had been told that they – as in the case of Freddie at the Acacia Resort in Otjiewarongo – are not a charity organisation.

Fortunately as always happens, there are some wonderful people around and Louw Le Roux at the ‘Makalani Hotel’ offered the hotels facilities for our accommodation and so ‘Buddy and Me’ are comfortably settled in our lovely, luxurious accommodation at the ‘Makalani Hotel’. I did however pay a visit to the campsite, which is called the Kupfer quelle resort where they have a Dros franchise and where I indulged in a Tafel lager to quench my thirst after the hot and long drive from Otjiewarongo, and after making enquiries about the cost of camping established that the resort is, without a shadow of doubt, the most expensive camping/caravan park in Africa. The charge for one person camping is R175-00 per night; a couple camping costs a staggering R230-00 (almost 32 US Dollars) per night, and for every additional person there is an additional cost of R57-50 (+- 8 US Dollars). I mean, come on, all campers touring Africa want and need is a place to set up their tent or caravan and a clean ablution block, preferably one providing hot water, at the most reasonable price, so what more can a camping resort provide to warrant such a ridiculously high cost? Whatever it is, it’s not needed.

So, after an enjoyable day’s drive, and settled comfortably for the night in the lovely ‘Makalani Hotel’ I popped into the hotels bar to have a refreshing brandy and coke (Klippies nogal) and had a chat with the friendly staff and other guests of the hotel, wonderful people. Obviously the topic of child rape featured prominently and I was informed of three cases of child rape having occurred during the past three months.

The ‘Makalani Hotels’ contact details are; Telephone +264-67-221051, email: makalani@makalanihotel.com website: www.makalanihotel.com it’s definitely the place to stay in Tsumeb when you visit this lovely town.

<i>Meet Imms on the left and Eugene Havinga on the right. Imms was born in Namibia and has never left the countries borders and Eugene hails from Bellville in Cape Town and frequently visits his family there, well whenever he gets the opportunity that is, it’s pretty far from here</i>

Meet Imms on the left and Eugene Havinga on the right. Imms was born in Namibia and has never left the countries borders and Eugene hails from Bellville in Cape Town and frequently visits his family there, well whenever he gets the opportunity that is, it’s pretty far from here

<i>The view from my room window</i>

The view from my room window

So that’s another day gone in the life of ‘Buddy and Me’, hopefully I will meet up with an IT specialist here in Tsumeb tomorrow who can forward my blog/email to Gail so that she can up-date my website, So until next time, keep well, keep safe, and keep all children safe, come on guys listen to me!

Caring regards from
‘Buddy and Me’ (Steve Heath)
Comments and opinions can be sent to me via: steve@buddyandme.co.za

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Tue
11
May '10

Day 226: Monday, 10 May 2010

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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My updated itinerary for Namibia and Botswana, to the end of the tour.

The PROPOSAL TO THE PRESIDENT for your perusal.

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)

Last night, or rather early this morning at 3am it started raining, I got up at 2am and the sky was clear with a million stars shinning in the sky, but at 10 past 3 I was woken by small pitter patter sounds on my tent and discovered that it was raining and within seconds it was pouring and continued to do so for an hour and then as suddenly as it had started, it stopped! When I got up at 5:30 (am, that is) the sky was clear and soon the sun was shining as brightly as ever.

After breakfast, scrambled eggs and left over lamb ‘stew’ chops from last night, I showered and headed into town to meet the staff of Beares Otjiewarongo, and what a magic bunch of people these turned out to be. Within seconds of my arriving Petru, the manager had arranged for a cup of coffee to be placed in my hand and I was introduced to everyone. A short while later a few customers arrived and I had a great chat with everyone.

<i>Meet the staff of <b>Beares</b> Otjiewarongo – that’s Petru up front, the good looking one</i>

Meet the staff of Beares Otjiewarongo – that’s Petru up front, the good looking one

Following my chat, I headed for the Namibian Police ‘Woman and child Abuse Unit’ and was introduced to a lady warrant officer in-charge of the unit and when I explained who I was and what I was doing she told me that she was not authorised by her boss, the Chief Inspector, to talk to me. She then phoned him and after a good giggle and laugh on the phone, I was told to go and see him. I drove round to his office and once again explained who I was and what the project was about and explained that I was not seeking detailed statistics etc, but was no less told that if I did not have the necessary written authority of the Minister of Police, he, or any of his staff could not, and would not and would be instructed not to talk to me on this subject. I unfortunately, although I did send a letter to the Namibian Government prior to starting the project telling them of my intended visit to the country and the purpose of my visit, did not get a response and so do not have the necessary letter of authority to talk to the police, and so that was that, no talkies!

But be that as it may, I visited the Pick ʼn Pay Centre to get some more goodies for tonight’s meal, spicy chicken fried in my flat bottomed poitjie pot with potatoes and rice, and got to talk to yet another great bunch of the local community, my experience is that these are the people who know what’s going on, and they once again confirmed that child rape is ripe in this community. So once again it was confirmed that when the cops don’t want to talk, they have something to hide, just like in South Africa, when the authorities don’t want to release the facts and statistics on child rape and crime, they have something to hide!

<i>The main street of Otjiewarongo</i>

The main street of Otjiewarongo

<i>From the same point but facing the opposite direction</i>

From the same point but facing the opposite direction

And so ended yet another day in the life of ‘Buddy and Me’. Tomorrow we head out, forever north to Tsumeb, where hopefully I will meet another friendly and helpful guy like Gerrit de Vos of InfoTech here in Otjiewarongo who, with the help of another staff member Jaco, sent my blog from my memory stick to Gail so she can update my blog, so thanks Gerrit and Jaco, your help is really appreciated.

So from ‘Buddy and Me’ we will wish you a good night, stay well and above all, KEEP ALL CHILDREN SAFE, you got it.

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

Unfortunately I am still without internet connection, it’s only with the kind help of people like Gerrit that I can send my blog’s through, so I cannot receive emails, but when I do get connected I will respond to all your emails, sorry, but that’s out of my control.

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Tue
11
May '10

Day 224-225: Saturday and Sunday, 8-9 May 2010

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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My updated itinerary for Namibia and Botswana, to the end of the tour.

The PROPOSAL TO THE PRESIDENT for your perusal.

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)

The weekend was a nice relaxing and quiet one. Saturday morning found me once again doing a bit of maintenance on Buddy in the form of stripping his indicator switch unit which has been giving me problems forever, with the switch lever sticking and jamming and generally just giving me headaches. I have never attempted to open the unit because I was scared that the usual thing that happens when I attempt to open anything mechanical or electrical would happen, all sorts of goodies and springs and things jump out at me and after putting it back together I have enough components to make another unit. But low and behold this time it did not happen and I managed to open it and discovered that a small squirt of Q20 and some grease was all that was needed to sort out the problem, and after reassembling it there were no parts left over, so walla! Buddy’s indicators are working like a charm, real smooth action nogal.

The afternoon of course was spent watching rugby, and Oo ooo, the Sharks kicked butt against the Stormers, so I guess there are a few Stormers supporters who are not happy with us Sharks supporters, but the Stormers and the Cheetahs have done it to the Sharks on a number of occasions, as in although they could not make the semi-finals they beat the Sharks which stopped the Sharks making the semi’s. So guys no hard feelings I hope, that’s the name of the game, each team goes out and plays to the best of their abilities and may the better team win, this time it was the Sharks who were definitely the better team. So now the Stormers have to go out on Saturday and prove that they are as good as they think they are and beat the Bulls at Newlands.

Sunday I was up, showered, packed, finished a scrumptious breakfast made by Hannerie and was bidding farewell to Basil, Hannerie and Oupa Markus at 10am. Unfortunately Christiaan and Silke had already gone off and so after thanking Basil and Hannerie for their incredible friendship, hospitality and generosity, I drove out of the farm gates and headed for Otjiewarongo, 175 kilometres north of Okahandja.

The weather was great, clear and very hot. The countryside was flat and covered with thick, dense thorn trees and shrubs and as usual I could see for kilometres in all directions.

<i>This photo was taken 70 kilometres out of Okahandja and 100 kilometres from Otjiewarongo, and is typical of the countryside throughout the journey</i>

This photo was taken 70 kilometres out of Okahandja and 100 kilometres from Otjiewarongo, and is typical of the countryside throughout the journey

<i>Welcome to Otjiewarongo</i>

Welcome to Otjiewarongo

Unfortunately no arrangements had been made for me for accommodation in Otjiewarongo and so I sort out the closest, which also turned out to be the only, camping facilities in the town, ‘The Acacia Park Rest Camp’. On entering the reception office, the friendly Ovambo on duty named Erwin, was really impressed with Buddy and when I explained what ‘Buddy and Me’ were doing, he was impressed and said “Yes that is a very good thing, this is a big problem in our country”. I asked if it would be possible to speak to the owner or manager about the possibility of them assisting me with a sponsored campsite for two nights and he was sure that they would. He contacted the owner, Freddie Kotzé, who together with his wife Petro own the camping resort, on a two-way-radio and told Freddie the situation.

Unfortunately Erwin was talking on an open line two-way-radio and so I heard the conversation, and all I can say is that Freddie unfortunately falls into the calibre of probably only two other individuals I have had the misfortune of meeting and being forced to accept accommodation from. His attitude is, to put it mildly, shocking, and as an owner of an establishment which is in the hospitality industry he seriously needs to attend a course in just plain courtesy and good manners, enough said.

Having said that however, after booking in and paying the full rate because firstly according to Freddie “He is not running a charity organisation”, and secondly because there are no other camping facilities in Otjiewarongo, I set up camp and then took a drive into town to purchase the necessaries for supper. At the Spar centre, I was approached by a group of woman and men who firstly wanted a closer look at Buddy and then got into a lengthy chat about the child rape situation in both the Otjiewarongo district and Namibia as a whole, and all seemed to support the comments of the people I had spoken to in the Swakopmund and Walvis Bay areas, as mentioned in my previous blog.

<i>My campsite at the Acacia Park Rest camp</i>

My campsite at the Acacia Park Rest camp

<i>Fellow campers</i>

Fellow campers

In-spite of what I think of Freddie’s bad manners and attitude, the park is a nice and clean resort and at the rate they charge is definitely value for money, although the whole time I was there, there was no hot water in the showers, although there was in the hand basins, but I find it difficult trying to bath in a hand basin. Should you wish to visit Otjiewarongo and require camping facilities, Acacia Park contact details are: caciapa@mweb.com.na.

And so ended mine and Buddy’s weekend, the weather has been kind to us, lots of sunshine and so I hope it continues for the remainder of our journey through this lovely country of Namibia and continues into Botswana. So stay well, and keep all children safe.

Caring regards from
‘Buddy and Me’ (Steve Heath)
Send your comments and opinions, whatever they are, to: steve@buddyandme.co.za

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Tue
11
May '10

Day 222-223: Thursday and Friday, 6-7 May 2010

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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My updated itinerary for Namibia and Botswana, to the end of the tour.

The PROPOSAL TO THE PRESIDENT for your perusal.

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 a sad heart ‘Buddy and Me’ were packed and ready to leave ‘Footprints’ just after 10am. So after thanking Loraine for her incredible generosity, friendship, kindness and hospitality and after wishing her and her friendly staff of ‘Footprints – Self Catering Accommodation’ farewell, ‘Buddy and Me’ first headed to the Beares store to say farewell to Renet and her staff and to get a photo of the ‘Lighthouse’ restaurant, because the next time I visit this area it will have been demolished and a new waterfront will have been erected in it’s place. I was pleased to hear that a new ‘Lighthouse’ restaurant will be included in the new waterfront development.


Loraine with the ‘shades’ and pink top, and amazing team, if you ever are fortunate enough to visit the beautiful and friendly city of Swakopmund, a stay at ‘Footprints’ is a must: e-mail: footprin@mweb.com.na (and it’s not a spelling mistake, there is no t at the end of the first word “footprin”), Website: footprints2swakop.com.

The ‘Lighthouse’ restaurant, a really nice place. The last time I visited Swakopmund, I celebrated my birthday here, on the 24th May 2006 and I was sponsored dinner that night by the owner. This time I enjoyed a lovely meal with two lovely ladies, Renet Van Zyl (Beares manager) and her and Basil’s sister, Belinda

By the time I had done all of this, it was a quarter to 12 and so with a really cold breeze blowing, as had been the previous day, ‘Buddy and Me’ finally headed out of Swakopmund. I stopped on the outskirts of Swakopmund to take a picture of the contrasting landscape which I had not noticed on my way into the city because at the time it had been slightly overcast and there was a fine mist, so this time I had to get a picture of this amazing sight.

<i>If you click on the picture it will open up bigger, and if you look carefully you can see the contrast of the flat white sand of the surrounding area and the high orange/golden colour of the high sand dunes which stretch all the way back to the coast for about 5 kilometres, I think</i>

If you click on the picture it will open up bigger, and if you look carefully you can see the contrast of the flat white sand of the surrounding area and the high orange/golden colour of the high sand dunes which stretch all the way back to the coast for about 5 kilometres, I think

When I had driven from Okahandja to Swakopmund, it had rained for a large part of the trip and so coupled with the fact that there is a lot of road construction taking place and coupled with the fact hat I did not have any brakes, I had had to focus on my driving and so had missed a lot of the lovely countryside and how it changes from dense bush to semi desert and then to desert conditions.

<i>A short stop to quench my thirst, you can see the construction of the new road which is taking place and once this is completed driving the Okahandja/Swakopmund road will be a pleasure</i>

A short stop to quench my thirst, you can see the construction of the new road which is taking place and once this is completed driving the Okahandja/Swakopmund road will be a pleasure

The change in weather, from about 20 kilometres out of Swakopmund is amazing. It had been really cold in Swakopmund and Walvis Bay during the last couple of days, in-spite of the fact that the sky was clear with brilliant sunshine, but after driving about 2o kilometres out of Swakopmund it warmed up and was soon scorching hot.

About 60 kilometres out of Swakopmund, I stopped at a roadside rest spot to change my thick winter shirt to a ’T’ shirt, and as I was changing a 4X4 drove passed heading in the direction of Swakopmund and a few hundreds metres after passing, stopped, made a U turn, and came back and pulled up next to Buddy. Three guys climbed out and the one guy said “Basil said we might pass this crazy guy in a Beach Buggy on our way”. It turned out that they were Andrew, Simon and Eddie, the first two (Andrew and Simon) being the ‘Brothers’ who are the franchisers of the ‘Brothers’ mattress company of which Basil is the franchisee of the Okahandja, Windhoek and Swakopmund branches.

They had spent an evening, and from what they told me, and from what I learnt later when I arrived at Basil and Hannerie’s farm, it had been a hell of an evening, with the Bean family. The three were on their way to Henties Bay for ten days fishing/angling, of course you know there is a major difference between these two sports/pastimes, I’m not quite sure which one they were going to partake in? But it was great chatting to hem and they made a contribution towards my fuel bill to Okahandja, so thanks guys I hope you caught the big one, or at least enjoyed yourselves trying.

The 311 kilometre trip to Okahandja and Basil and the farm took ‘Buddy and Me’ a little more than 6 hours to do, and of course when I eventually arrived at the farm at 10 past 6 with the sun almost set they couldn’t believe it, they normally do the trip in around 2 hours, sometimes when in a hurry even less. So when ‘Buddy and Me’ pulled up in front of the farm to warm welcome from the Bean family who were sitting out on the front stoep it stands to reason that soon I had a cold ‘Tafel Lager’ in my hand and was relaxing with them.

The drive to the farm from the Okahandja/Gross barmen road involves a three and a half kilometre drive along a bush/track/gravel road, which Buddy really hates and so vibrates, shakes and rattles like crazy, but it’s a really nice drive through dense bush and so I convinced him to relax, take it easy and all would be fine.

<i>Lovely Bushveld to drive through, for me that is, Buddy hated it</i>

Lovely Bushveld to drive through, for me that is, Buddy hated it

The drive to the farm also includes crossing a short section of a dried river bed which consists of deep soft sand, which of course Buddy loves, and so he accepted the situation and we arrived at the farm in two pieces, Buddy – and – Me.

<i>This is the part that Buddy loved and made me just a touch nervous at first</i>

This is the part that Buddy loved and made me just a touch nervous at first

Friday morning (7th May) ‘Buddy and Me’ once again tackled the bush road and headed into the town of Okahandja to meet the friendly staff of Beares there. Unfortunately the manager, Godfrey Julie was away on leave, but his stand-in manager, Petrina Sloa and her staff had done a sterling job in inviting a few people from the community in the form of social workers, and other interested members of the community which included a very interesting minister from the NGK (Dutch Reformed Church) of Okahandja, Reverend Pine Pienaar to meet me and have a discussion on my hopes and aspirations of what I hope to achieve with this project and to get their in-put, comments and opinions.

From what was told to me, it is obvious that the community is not happy with the direction the Namibian government has taken with regard to following the South African governments route in handling criminals with kit gloves, and believe that this is going to; as it has done in South Africa, create a situation of encouraging people to follow the route of crime, rape etc, rather than it being what ‘justice’ is supposed to be, a deterrent to anyone to commit crime particularly child rape.

After presenting them with an abbreviated version of my proposal to our South African President on what I believe needs to be done to stop the rape of children in South Africa, (The complete proposal is available on a link on this website), it was unanimously agreed that the factors identified in it, would definitely also work in Namibia, and it was also unanimously agreed that the Namibian government should give serious consideration to studying it and applying it.

<i><b>Beares</b> Okahandja staff together with the group of guests – Reverend Pine Pienaar in front, the ‘thorn’ between the roses, sorry Pine it’s just a figure of speech</i>

Beares Okahandja staff together with the group of guests – Reverend Pine Pienaar in front, the ‘thorn’ between the roses, sorry Pine it’s just a figure of speech

Pine Pienaar and I continued our discussion for another hour after everyone else had left, which by the way, was one of the most interesting discussions I have had on the subject of child rape to date. So Pine keep up the good work you are doing and thank you for your kind wishes, advise and kind comparison you made of ‘my crusade’, its really appreciated and I will be spending many hours while driving Buddy contemplating some of the things you said, many thanks.

Before heading back to the farm, and subjecting Buddy to the gruelling bush road, I paid a visit to Basils ‘Brothers’ mattress factory business which is situated on the outskirts of the town, where he first got his staff to stitch the edges of my South African and Namibian flags, which due to the wind ripping the edges to pieces were looking somewhat tattered, now they should at least last the next 6 weeks of this project, and then they made me two magic waterproof cushions for Buddy’s ever sinking-in seats. Not only did Basil do this, not to mention provide ‘Buddy and Me’ with amazing friendship, hospitality and accommodation, he insisted on ‘Brothers’ making a donation towards our expenses while in Namibia, so Basil thank you, you are a true gentleman of note.

On arriving back at the farm, I had to make adjustments to Buddy’s tow bar structure and had to raise it by about four centimetres because whenever I attach the trailer the tow bar frame knocks on the exhaust creating a terrible knocking noise and vibration through Buddy’s body. I did this while in Swakopmund with the use of straps, but I did not loosen the bolts holding the frame to the body sufficiently and so by the time I reached Okahandja it had sagged and was once again knocking on the exhaust. So with the help of the farm hand Paul, we did a proper job by loosening the bolts and jacking the tow bar frame up and strapping it up.

<i>Paul after a job well done</i>

Paul after a job well done

<i>Hopefully this is going to hold for the remaining 6 weeks of this project, I’ll make another plan for the new project</i>

Hopefully this is going to hold for the remaining 6 weeks of this project, I’ll make another plan for the new project

Basil and Hannerie went to Windhoek for the evening and Christiaan and his girl friend Silke also had plans. So this left Oupa Markus Du Plessis – Hannerie’s father and I at home to enjoy each others company and we watched the ‘Bulls/Crusaders’ Super 14 rugby game, the Bulls having won, again! (I think what is their 18th game in a row, – which means that Gaston, back at the Gem Bar in Lambton Germiston will never let me live this down) After the game we braaied, had a couple of beers (or rather I did, during and after the game of course, Oupa Markus just had half a glass) and Oupa Markus told me some fascinating stories of his life, which by the way commenced way back in 1922 when he was born in Angola. Later in 1928 he travelled to Namibia in an ox-wagon and the stories included some of the 2nd World War and the impact this had on their lives in Namibia, and so after a rather busy but fulfilling day, we are now retiring to bed for a good nights sleep.

So until later, ‘Buddy and Me’ wish you well, stay well and keep safe and of course above all, keep all children safe.

Caring regards from
‘Buddy and Me’ (Steve Heath)
Send comments and opinions to: steve@buddyandme.co.za

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Sun
9
May '10

Day 221: Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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My updated itinerary for Namibia and Botswana, to the end of the tour.

The PROPOSAL TO THE PRESIDENT for your perusal.

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 after a magnificent nights sleep, in-spite of what occurred yesterday with the loss of my GPS, I thanked Jacques de Jager, the General Manager of the magnificent Protea Hotel Pelican Bay-Walvis Bay for his kind and generous support to the ‘Buddy and Me’ project and headed into town to meet all the staff of the Beares store in Walvis Bay.

<i>Jacques de Jager outside the <b>Protea Hotel Pelican Bay</b></i>

Jacques de Jager outside the Protea Hotel Pelican Bay

Yesterday, being a public holiday meant that only half the staff was in the store, and so I delayed my talk and photo of them until this morning when I could get to meet and chat to the entire staff. I had a great and informative chat with them and received some interesting comments and feed back on the situation, or rather how the public in Namibia perceive the situation to be here, I’m afraid it’s not good.

<i>A really friendly bunch of people at the <b>Beares</b> store in Walvis Bay, led by the really friendly, always smiling Michael, whose standing in the front, smiling as usual</i>

A really friendly bunch of people at the Beares store in Walvis Bay, led by the really friendly, always smiling Michael, whose standing in the front, smiling as usual

I stopped off at the police station; initially my intention was to meet with Reinette Cronje who, when I had last met with her here on the 26th May 2006 on the ‘African Odyssey’ project, was a Warrant Officer and was Unit Commander of the ‘Woman and Child Protection Unit’. I was informed that she had been promoted and transferred to the Swakopmund division two years ago, but I did get the opportunity to chat to a couple of policemen and woman while at the station and can confirm that in their opinion, child rape has escalated significantly and that they are of the opinion that the route the Namibian government has chosen to take with regard to the justice system, which is based on the same system our South African government is presently on, has created this situation. This, as I have already said, is very sad for me, as three years ago following my visit to this country; I believed Namibia, along with Botswana, was on the right road, with harsh, deterrent punishments being handed out.

I drove the misty, sandy but truly spectacularly lovely flat road, through huge sand dunes, 33 kilometres of it, back to Swakopmund where my first stop was at the Beares store where I met up with Rennet van Zyl the store manager who has just returned from her holiday and much needed and deserved rest. After a brief chat with the staff and a photo, I headed out for the police detective unit close by.

<i>Meet the staff of <b>Beares</b> Swakopmund – Rennet right up front looking well rested and ready for action</i>

Meet the staff of Beares Swakopmund – Rennet right up front looking well rested and ready for action

My visit to the detective unit and meeting with, now Inspector Reinette Cronje, proved to be as rewarding as I had hoped and had anticipated it would be. She provided me with some really interesting facts on what has transpired in Namibia with not only the child rape situation in the country, but with crime in general, and as I have already said, I am really disappointed to hear that the Namibian government has been influenced by the South African governments ‘system’ with regard to their approach to justice and punishment in particular of criminals.

I was told of one specific case in which a man was convicted of the rape of a nine year little girl and was sentenced to a measly 7 years in jail. After four years he was released due to the fact that he was diagnosed with cancer. However his ‘medical condition’ did not stop him being charged 8 months later for the rape of a five year old little girl. So if he had been kept in prison and had served his sentence as was handed down by the court originally, the State could have saved a little five year old girls life from being totally destroyed. I am afraid if I was the father of that child I would have taken the State to task and sued them for so much money that my daughter would be a multimillionaire for the rest of her life, not that the money can restore her dignity and erase the disgusting and humiliating punishment she had been subjected to by this savage.

I was also told by a few police officials I had the opportunity to meet and have candid chats with, that the system, as is happening in South Africa, is failing the community, in that criminals, not only child rapists, but criminals across the board are in a “No loose’ situation. They turn to crime because it’s easier making a living this way, not to mention more rewarding, and should they get caught they don’t mind being sent to prison because life in prison is easier and better than life outside.

In prison they receive three meals a day, it’s very seldom, if at all, that they would get fed and served nogal, three meals a day out on the streets. They also get the opportunity to get paid for certain ‘jobs’ they do for the prison and police staff. The proof of this is in the fact that in both South Africa and Namibia, the prisons are full to capacity and billions of Rands are being spent to make bigger and better equipped prison, sorry that should be ‘Correctional Services facilities’. If going to prison was so bad, how come so many are committing crime and in thousands of cases committing crime again and again after having served time in prison to get back there? If being sent to prison was a deterrent and criminals where forced to under go harsh punishment sentences, as is done in the UAE, Saudi Arabia etc, we would not need to spend billions of Rands on building bigger prisons.

While driving around Swakopmund, I often passed this beautiful old building and did not pay much attention to the writing on the wall which is slightly hidden by schrubs, but on mentioning it to one of the Beares staff he pointed out that this is in fact the cities prison, and has been since 1901.

<i>How’s this for a lovely building, 109 years old and still looking good and going strong</i>

How’s this for a lovely building, 109 years old and still looking good and going strong

Eventually I finished my visits and chats with as many people as I could meet in Swakopmund today, and this included people who approached me in the shopping centres and one shop in particular where I popped in to enquire about the possibility of obtaining a new GPS, unfortunately the cost, because they did not have a basic model, only the upgraded one at R2 500-00 which at this stage is way out of my dwindling budget. So I then returned to this magical place called ‘Footprints’ where the owner, Loraine Cooper kindly provided me with another nights sponsored accommodation.

Before leaving the Beares store, Rennet, the store manager invited me to supper with her and her sister Belinda who was also previously a Beares staff member and is now in the mattress and bed business with the brother Basil with their ‘Brothers’ mattress manufacturing business. I will be staying with Basil and Hannerie again in Okahandja on Thursday night, but tonight I had a lovely dinner at the Light House restaurant with two lovely ladies and by the way the Light House restaurant and complex is soon to be pulled down for the development of a new and exciting waterfront in the area.

Before signing off, I just want to elaborate on what a lot of people would regard as a small issue, but I believe it is something which makes ‘Footprints’ the magical place it is, and that is the fact that on every wall in the place there are hand painted absolutely beautiful pictures, and every room is different.

Here’s just two –

<i>one from the bathroom</i>

one from the bathroom

<i>and one from my room</i>

and one from my room

The room also have their own balcony with a starway up to the roof balcony which has a spectacular view of the coast and other surrounding areas.

<i>The balcony and stairway system to the roof balcony, I showed pictures of the roof balcony in yesterdays blog</i>

The balcony and stairway system to the roof balcony, I showed pictures of the roof balcony in yesterdays blog

So now for a good nights sleep and then tomorrow morning I will be heading out of this beautiful city of Swakopmund. Whenever I have been interviewed by the media and in chts with individuals, I have often been asked, “After having travelled extensively through Africa, what area do you consider to be the best”, and every time, without hesitation I have confirmed that there are four and those are:
1) Swakopmund
2) Walvis bay
3) Lake Malawi district
4) Port St Johns

Not necessarily in that order as they are all four beautiful places.

So as I said, it’s now time for a good nights rest, so ‘Buddy and Me’ will say good night, stay well and keep all children safe, until next I get to be able to connect to the internet, cheers.

Caring regards from
‘Buddy and Me’ (Steve Heath)
Don’t forget to click on my ‘Proposal to the President’ and read about my prosed olution to stopping the rape of children and send your comments to me via my email address: steve@buddyandme.co.za

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