Posted by Julia
Categories: Buddy and Me
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So another disastrous week has passed in the lives of ‘Buddy and Me and I have undoubtedly suffered more in the last 3 weeks than I have done in the entire 6 years and 187 000 kilometres on the ‘Buddy and Me’ project’.
So Monday (19th September) dawned a lovely day and after thanking Cheryl and Horst Reum for their kind friendship and hospitality in their lovely holiday home at Chrissiesmeer, and a special thanks to Cheryl for pulling me through my ‘water poisoning’, I bid them farewell and drove through to Ermelo where I met up with a really terrific guy, Ebrahim Timol the store manager of the Beares Ermelo store and his great bunch of friendly staff.
(Abrahim is on my right) Abrahim arranged for me to talk at the local school and I was accompanied by two members of the local SAPS-FCS unit, and oh boy what a reception we got when we arrived at the school.
and of course Buddy would get very upset with me if I did not include him in the festivities, in fact he still got upset with me and through his toys out of the cot, but more about that later. But here is Buddy getting involved
Abrahim also arranged for me to meet up with a local newspaper report who has promised to do really good article, so Abrahim please don’t forget to post me two copies.
From the school I visited the Thuthuzela Care Centre which is based at the local hospital,
but alas, although the premises are definitely one of the best TCC units I have seen, it is still a far cry from being what they could and should be with regard to providing the essential services needed to encourage mothers and children to report the rape of children or to encourage victims of domestic violence in general, because once again there are no trained police officials on the premises and no doctor or trained forensic nurse on the premises to perform the essential J88 forensic examination. Victims and mothers reporting the rape of children are required to first report the matter at the police station and then be transported to the hospital where the forensic examination is undertaken and then they are sent to the Thuthuzela Care Centre for ‘support assistance’,
From Ermelo ‘Buddy and Me’ headed for Piet Retief where on Tuesday I met up with the staff of Beares Piet Retief.
Unfortunately my visit to this store was at a sombre time when Annetjie Pretorius, the Beares store manager and her staff were busy packing up the store and preparing to close it. I believe the new store will be opening around the end of November, so to Annetjie and your friendly staff I hope to be able to visit your flashy new store on ‘Buddy and Me – project 4’ next year.
The Mpumalanga region can be very thankful that they have, what I in my humble opinion believes to be, the best NGO support services for victims of child rape as well as for victims of rape in general and victims of domestic violence found in South Africa and these services are provided by ‘GRIP’ (Greater Rape Intervention Programme) and I had a magic time chatting to the staff of the Piet Retief unit. Pic 2137 and if you look closely you will see I am holding a T shirt which was presented to me by Marliese Beukes the ‘GRIP’ regional manager which states this.
This year, GRIP handles a little over 200 cases of rape of which an estimated 80% involved children under the age of 12 years of age! Marliese did however confirm that the relationship between GRIP, the police (FCS unit) and the judicial system (courts) was extremely good and that they have been experiencing a high rate of convictions with some really severe sentences being passed down.
My only problem with this is that in-spite of our courts handing down some really great and severe sentences; convicted rapists are being paroled long before they have served even a small percentage of their original sentence, and so I believe that our government is using the publicising of lengthy sentencing’s of rapists and criminals in general as a propaganda publicity stunt.
My accommodation in Piet Retief was courtesy of my cousin Daryl, her husband Martin and son Kyle Van Deventer, and I enjoyed a magic braai, Martin being a fundi at this particular style of cooking and he did a chicken which I still believe was either a turkey or a small Ostrich J but whatever it was it was undoubtedly the best I have ever had in my life, and I am sure it was because of the weird braai Martin has, check this out.
Kyle, on my left, was instrumental in ensuring that the fire was perfect, so thanks guys for the amazing time I had while visiting Piet Retief.
The next morning, before heading out of Piet Retief, I stopped off at Daryl’s place of employment (Pick n’ Pay) to bid her farewell and then popped in to say good bye to Martin at his office and in order to get to Martin’s place of employment; he’s the manager of the abattoir, I had to drive right past the Piet Retief prison, sorry ‘Correctional Services facilities’ and on seeing the sign outside the main entrance once again wondered if this is really the message that should be given to potential criminals and our countries criminal element in general.
“A Place of new beginnings” in my humble opinion this is saying “If you can’t make it out there ‘in society’ and if you turn to crime and destroy someone else life, don’t worry, enjoy the pleasures and benefits of your crimes until you are caught and then come here and we will provide you with a new beginning”. Perhaps the sign should read “This is a place you NEVER want to be sent to”.
From Piet Retief ‘Buddy and Me’ headed in a Southerly direction for Vryheid where I spent some quality time with Cornelia van Rooyen the Beares store manager and her merry bunch of friendly staff.
Cornelia also arranged for me to have an interview with a really terrific young lady from the local press and I look forward to reading her article because she was really interested in the ‘Buddy and Me’ project and is committed to the fight against child rape.
After a stop off at the local police station where I was, as usual, not very impressed with the services provided by them and in my opinion they are not committed to encouraging mothers to report the rape of their children and once again reflected on the difference between the support structures and services, or rather lack of them, in this area and the support structures and services provided in the areas where GRIP are established.
I headed out of Vryheid in a bit of a hurry so that I could reach Pongola before dark, Buddy’s lights and electrical system not being what they should be, and headed in the direction (once again northwards) for Pongola where I immediately booked into my lovely accommodation for the night at the ‘Aber Jetz Guesthouse’ which is owned by the really lovely lady Regina Herbst.
So if you ever visit the Pongola area, staying at ‘Aber Jetz Guesthouse’ is a must, and you can contact Regina on: 083 3307 364 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org and can be found at: 5 Jan Kemp Str. Pongola.
The evening was spent in the company of a really great man and friend Hannes Jacobs who is the Beares store manager in Pongola and his lovely wife Joan at the Pongola Lodge where I enjoyed, my all time favourite meal (other than curry that is) of a really great hot Portuguese style per-peri chicken, chips and salad, positively delicious.
Unfortunately, as in the case of Piet Retief, Hannes and his staff were busy packing up store and I believe the new store will only be opening in mid 2012, so to Hannes and your great bunch of staff,
I wish you well for the future and hope I get to see your new store on ‘Buddy and Me – project 4’ next year
One of the discussions I got involved in during the evening was one surrounding the ‘big news’ that was being featured prominently on TV, newspapers and radio over the past couple of days and that was the fact that 8 young school girls were found to be pregnant and I couldn’t help thinking “so what’s the big issue, it’s being happening at a phenomenal rate over the past couple of years and in-fact I had written about it in my blog while in Barberton (Blog 51) where I was provided with information to the effect that the Department of Social Development is handing out condoms to school kids as young as 12 and 13 years of age (Grade 8), question: “Is this ‘Social Development?”.
One comment made by a lady was “When is our government going to realise that all that is happening is that young girls have discovered a new way of getting ‘pocket money’, this being in the form of ‘child grants’ – R280-00 per month per child”. I agree fully with this statement and believe that the paying of a child grant must be subject to the young girl identifying who the individual is that got her pregnant, the individual is arrested for rape (statutory rape) and is prosecuted to the full extent of the law; with the full co-operation of the young girl, and he is sent to prison. But what in-fact is presently occurring is that the young girl is receiving a ‘child grant’ AND being paid ‘maintenance’ by the rapist / boyfriend to keep his identity hidden, and because it is keeping the police ‘work load’ down they do not concern themselves with it.
The next morning all my problems started!!! 63 kilometres from Mtubatuba while on my way to St Lucia where I intended spending the weekend catching up on some well needed R&R and fishing, Buddy’s left rear wheel came flying off while travelling through a very remote stretch of highway.
If you remember from my last blog (Blog 53), this occurred last weekend with Buddy’s right rear wheel while being towed from Hartebeespoort Dam to Jo’burg and ended up costing me a fortune in damage to the vehicle towing Buddy as well as the repair costs to Buddy’s drive shaft and wheel hub. This was caused by the guy who ‘helped’ me by fitting new brake shoes and not tightening the hub wheel nut tight enough and not fitting a split pin, well the same occurred with the left wheel.
Unfortunately Buddy’s rear suspension was well and truly entrenched into the soft ground and I could not get him lifted high enough to refit the wheel without the use of a second jack and in-spite of me trying to flag down motorists, which included 5 traffic cops who on passing me, slowed, and drove off, nobody would stop. Feeling totally dejected I sat on the wheel with my head in my hands wondering what I was going to do, when my ‘Guardian Angel’ came to my assistance once again, and a bakkie pulled up behind Buddy and a guy jumped out and asked if I was alright and if he could help.
So meet my ‘Good Samaritan’ farmer Geffert Pretorius sent by my ‘Guardian Angel’.
In order to get the wheel hub on I had to dismantle the brake system, and within a kilometre of where the wheel had come off, I was forced to pull over because the whole braking system had come apart and brake fluid was leaking out like a sieve and was creating a major noise and problem, so once again the wheel was taken off and after an hour trying to fabricate a temporary braking system I gave up and drove the remaining 80 kilometres to St Lucia with NO brakes at all!
All I was praying for was that I would not be asked to stop by a traffic cop, so I limped along slowly and eventually arrived at the Mtubatuba / St Lucia turn off, and yep as I took the turn off and turned left, fortunately at the end of the off ramp it was a yield sign and not a stop sign, a traffic cop was standing about 100 metres down the road and as I approached him he stepped into the road and indicated for me to stop. Fortunately for me he was standing at a point in the road where a small road lead in from the left and it had a small incline and so I drove slowly towards him and turned left into the side road and coasted to a stop, switched off the engine and left Buddy in gear. After a general look over Buddy and I of course kept him entertained with details of where Buddy has travelled, he bid me farewell and wished me a pleasant trip and with sweat pouring down my forehead I eventually arrived in St Lucia.
After setting up camp
I headed into St Lucia, very nervously and cautiously, because driving around St Lucia with no brakes is not something you want to experience in a hurry, but I needed to get ’stuff’ for supper as well as a few other items of necessity and managed to complete the drive without wiping out any other motorists or pedestrians.
Saturday morning I found a workshop called ‘NicMar Workshop’ on the premises of the Engen garage owned by Nic
who did a sterling job in repairing Buddy’s brakes and bleeding them and so by Saturday afternoon Buddy was back ♫On the road again♫ brakes and all Yahoo!!
With Buddy’s wheels all still on and his brakes working probably better than they were before, I drove the 35 kilometres through the ‘new’ game reserve to Cape Vidal, without anything on Buddy coming apart I might add, and had a relaxing time fishing
So this coming week will find ‘Buddy and Me’ focusing on the KZN North Coast area starting in Mtubatuba on Monday morning and heading forever South wards to the final destination in Durban. This has been a particularly hard and difficult project for me and I have taken some unbelievable strain in every aspect of the word, and so I, as I am sure Buddy does, look forward to finishing and getting in some real rest before starting the planning of ‘Buddy and Me – Project 4’ early in the new year, because there is still lots of work to be done to get our government to commit to stopping the rape and sexual abuse of children.
So until next week, keep well, stay safe and do everything in your power to stop the rape and sexual abuse of children, keep all children safe!!!
Caring regards from
‘Buddy (The Beach Buggy)
Me’ (Steve Heath)
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