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Tue
15
Sep '09

Day 41-43: Friday, Saturday and Sunday 11-13 September 2009

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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After thanking Lenske and Thorn for their kind hospitality and friendship, I drove out of the Tubatse Residence and passed through Steelpoort and Burgersfort on my way out on the Ohrigstad road destined for Hoedspruit. As I have said before, the one privilege I have of doing this project is the fact that I get to travel through some of the most beautiful countryside South Africa has to offer, and today’s drive was no exception. The road I took wound its way through absolutely magnificent valleys and mountain passes. In some sections (mountain passes) what was obviously no problem for the other cars on the road proved to be major challenges for Buddy, but when I put him into his ‘donkey’ gear, 2nd, he chugged up the mountains and took them in his stride. This gave me time to absorb the beauty of the surrounding countryside and to chill.

About a kilometre from the T junction where I had to turn left onto the Ohrigstad/Hoedspruit road, I passed a ‘Voortrekker’ grave site. I have always been fascinated by old buildings, houses and grave sites, and whenever I pass an old relic of a house, particularly farm houses right out in the middle of nowhere, I can’t help wonder who had stayed there, when, and what sort of life they had. I’m sure many of these old places could tell amazing stories. So with this in mind, I obviously could not pass up the opportunity to stop and walk through this old grave site and wonder about the people identified on the gravestones scattered all over the area. The gravestones reflect the lives and deaths of individuals born in the late 1700’s and who died in the early to mid 1800’s. When gazing out over this beautiful valley I couldn’t help but wonder what it must have been like for these people to have travelled through this area during the early and mid 1800’s with their ox wagons, travelling through what was then hostile uncharted mountainous bush land (many of the grave stones reflect that individuals had died in the 1830’s).

Voortrekker grave site

Voortrekker grave site

Ox wagon at Voortekker grave site

Ox wagon at Voortekker grave site

Before departing, Lenske and Thorn had told me about a place which is situated on the Ohrigstad/Hoedspruit road called ‘The Shoe’ where I would be able to stop and get something to eat. The Shoe turned out to be a really interesting place and has caves, which Michelle, the daughter of the owner and developer, Ron van Zyl (who is also a sculptor of note), told me were built by her father himself. Ron’s amazing pieces of sculpture are displayed in the caves, as well as in the museum, which is in the actual shoe.

The Shoe

The Shoe

A short while after leaving ‘The Shoe’, I passed a sign indicating the way to the ‘Museum of Man’ and once again could not continue on my way without visiting this site. There was also a sign indicating that the ‘Echo Caves’ were 4 kilometres further down the same side road, but it was a gravel road and although buddy loves sandy beaches he hates gravel roads with a passion and shakes and vibrates like crazy when being forced to travel on one. To reach the ‘Museum of Man’ it only involved driving about 1 kilometre on the gravel road so I decided that Buddy could handle the punishment for a short while. The museum, which is situated in a cave, dates back 87 000 years, when it was first inhabited by the bushmen and then by the Bapedi group and then in the mid 1800’s by the Voortrekkers. The Voortrekkers evidently hid their wives and children in the cave from marauding tribes in the area. Excavations carried out in the cave which started in the early 1960’s clearly indicate the various times that the cave was inhabited by the three groups.

The Musem of Man

The Musem of Man

Inside the Museum of Man

Inside the Museum of Man

After having climbed up a particularly long and steep mountain pass, and passed through a tunnel and down the other side of the mountain, I passed a village which totally shocked me by its cleanliness and so I couldn’t help but stop at a small spaza shop, outside which a large group of individuals were standing waving vigorously. On approaching the group they came up to me and all shook my hand and greeted me like I was a long lost relative, and walked around admiring Buddy telling me what a great little racing car he is. I was told that the name of the village is Tsenyane (I hope I got the spelling right) and when I mentioned the reason for the project and asked if child rape occurs in the area, I was told that “Yes it happens, but not as much as it used to and is occurring in neighbouring areas”. When considering the cleanliness of the village this did not surprise me because it was obvious that these people are different to the masses I have passed through and met. I was also told that the chief of the area does not put up with crime in his area, and this includes child rape and that transgressors are “dealt with”, I could only imagine what this meant? Man I would definitely vote for this guy as President! Unfortunately he was not available but I would really have liked to have met him.

My arrival at Hoedspruit was a relatively quiet one and apart from chatting to the Beares staff about the project I met a really interesting chap by the name of Ray Brown, who has lived in the area for umpteen years and is the ‘Chief Cook and Bottle-Washer’ – well that’s how he describes himself – for the town. He gave me some interesting facts about Hoedspruit which included the fact that it is a relatively new town and originally formed part of the enormous farm which is owned by a Mr. Becker. I hope I have all these facts right because I sat listening to Ray and did not write down notes. The town is owned by a private company ‘The Hoedspruit Development Company’ and only a very small strip of land is owned by the municipality. I think that accounts for the fact that Hoedspruit is one of the cleanest towns I have had the privilege of visiting. He also explained that in 1994 they could not get a ‘town ordinance’ compiled/registered because the town was in fact still registered as a farm and so, on explaining the problem to Nelson Mandela, he in fact wrote up the town ordinance himself.

After chatting to Rueben Mosoma, the Beares store manager and his friendly staff and because it was scorching hot, at 2.30 I headed for the little pub across the road – The Fort – where I indulged in a cold Millers or two and chatted to a group of the local inhabitants. Everyone was very keen to hear about the project and to give their opinions on what should be done to stop child rape. These opinions were pretty much the same as those I have been given already ‘the death penalty must be re-instated, even if it’s only for child rape (children under the age of 12) particularly in the instances where a child has been infected by the rapist with the HIV/Aids virus. Failing this, the convicted rapist must be sentenced to a minimum of 45 years in prison without the possibility of parole or early release, including if he ends up with some ‘life threatening’ disease, as they do in Botswana and Namibia.

Beares Hoedspruit staff – Rueben on the left of the picture

Beares Hoedspruit staff – Rueben on the left of the picture

I drove out to the Klaserie Dam Caravan Park where I was provided with a lovely little cabin close to the small dam from which it is reported that some amazingly large Carp and Bass have been caught – I intend to confirm this at some stage over the week end. The caravan park isn’t actually on the Klaserie Dam itself but is only about 500 metres away from it, so if I don’t get lucky with ‘the big one’ in the caravan park dam I’m going to take a trip to the big dam and try there. A few minutes after getting settled into my ‘new home’ I walked out onto the veranda and discovered an amazing sight. There were buck eating only a few metres away from my cabin’s front door. I was told that they were Nyala and Impala. I am embarrassed to confess that, although I love animals and the bush, when it comes to identifying specific breeds of buck etc, I am clueless. A buck is a buck as far as I’m concerned.

Buck!!

Buck!!

On my last visit to Hoedspruit with the African Odyssey project ‘Searching for a Solution to Child Rape’ I had met a young couple, Lulu and her husband Willem. Lulu worked for Beares and on enquiring as to their whereabouts with Reuben at the Beares store, I was sorry to hear that they had unfortunately gotten divorced and that Lulu had moved to Kimberley. It turned out that the bar lady at the Fort pub, Susan, is in fact Willem’s sister and so she gave me his cell number and chop-chop we made arrangements to meet on Saturday morning when we discussed the last few years of our lives over a couple of cold ones. After sorting out a problem with Buddy’s idling solenoid – a temporary solution because obviously the spares shop in Hoedspruit does not carry spares for a beetle – we watched the Bokke give the All Blacks a lesson in rugby – and on that point, well done Bokke you did our country proud in winning the Tri-Nations cup. I was then invited to watch the SHARKS take on the Bulls later and to have a braai with Willem’s girl friend, Sheri’s, folks and family. Well I’m sure everone knows that the SHARKS did their supporters proud by thumping the Bulls to take top of the log. Sorry Gaston I hope you didn’t cry too long and I hope you had that ‘strafdop’. The evening turned out to be a really great one with all Sheri’s family, her mom Jennifer and dad Lucas as well as a whole bunch of her crazy family. I managed to extricate myself from the party at 11:30pm and headed back to my cabin in the woods, so to all the guys from last night, thanks for making my evening such a great and enjoyable one. Fortunately there were only two Bulls supporters in the large group, all the others being staunch Sharks supporters so there wasn’t too much crying to spoil the evening.

Family get-together - I’m sure you can identify the Bulls supporters, one being Willem with the light blue T shirt (Sheri in front of him) the other being the guy –Morne- with the ‘other’ sick looking blue shirt on

Family get-together - I’m sure you can identify the Bulls supporters, one being Willem with the light blue T shirt (Sheri in front of him) the other being the guy –Morne- with the ‘other’ sick looking blue shirt on

I got to meet a really friendly and interesting couple this weekend, Mike and Merle Bucknall who were camping in front of me with their extremely well fitted out Land Rover Discovery. They live an amazingly wonderful life travelling and touring around Africa. I also discovered that they know Cheryl and Horst Reum, that lovely couple I stayed with in White River. So to Cheryl, you know some really terrific people and to the Bucknalls I wish you well, and hope you have a pleasant and safe journey on your travels through Africa.

So now it’s Sunday afternoon and I’m going to cook myself a lamb curry and then spend the early evening fishing. So that’s my weekend gone, far too quickly.

View from the front door of my cabin

View from the front door of my cabin

The view from the opposite direction - look carefully and you can see the computer on the table where I was sitting writing this blog

The view from the opposite direction - look carefully and you can see the computer on the table where I was sitting writing this blog

So until tomorrow (Monday the 14th September) when I’m back ?on the road again? heading for Phalaborwa where I have been kindly provided with accommodation by Deidre Van Der Merwe and her Round Table Chairman husband Pieter, I will say bye for now, keep well and please keep those e-mails coming in, I need to hear from everyone with their opinions on the subject of child rape and what you, as human beings, believe needs to be done to stop the raping of our precious children.

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


Sat
12
Sep '09

Day 40: Thursday, 10 September 2009

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Categories: Buddy and Me

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This morning after a hearty breakfast at the Didingwe River Lodge, I bid Rob and Greg farewell and headed for Burgersfort. I think Burgersfort must be the only town in South Africa that I have never visited so I was looking forward to the visit. Unfortunately I must say that this town fell into the category of the towns I mentioned in yesterday’s blog; Odendaalsrus, Schweizer Reneke, and Zeerest, all towns which appear to be on the down and out, dirty and not very appealing for tourism. The Lubners store manager Macdonald Mthethwa had spoken to a Captain in the local police establishment a few days ago and who had agreed to meet with me to discuss the child rape situation in the Burgersfort-Steelpoort area, but when Macdonald phoned her to invite her round for the chat she refused and said that she did not want to speak to me and that she had instructed all the staff of the police station not to talk to me. I asked if she could provide me with the names and details of any NGO organisation in the area that provide a support structure for child rape victims and to this she responded that she did not want me talking to anyone in the area on the subject of child rape. My response to this was “Obviously child rape in the area is a serious problem and you guys definitely have something to hide”. After a chat with the Lubners staff I headed out for the township of Tukakgomo where I located an NGO called HIV/Aids Care and Support Development Project which provides care and support for HIV/Aids and abused children.

Lubners staff

Lubners staff

The project is headed up by a lady by the name of Fast Maimela and operates from the premises of the Maelebe Primary School. She confirmed that child rape is happening on a frightening scale in the district and when I told her about my encounter with the Captain from the SAPS, she shrugged and said that she was not surprised. Unfortunately it appears that there is no organisation, including the Social Welfare, in the area who provides a support structure for child rape victims; because evidently as usual they don’t have money to help child rape victims.

Fast Maimela standing on the extreme left with striped blouse, with the other caregivers of the HIV/Aids Care and Support Project

Fast Maimela standing on the extreme left with striped blouse, with the other caregivers of the HIV/Aids Care and Support Project

After my visit to the township where I did stop and chat to a large group of the local inhabitants who all agreed that child rape is a major concern in the area and that all child rapists, irrespective of who they are “Should die”, I headed for the Tubatse Residence situated on a large chrome mine about 6 kilometres outside Steelpoort where I was invited to spend the night with Lenske and Thorn Buglass. Lenske is Ryan’s mom. (He’s mos the President of the Derelicts in Germiston, see photo on blog dated 31 August 2009.)

Buddy is still making a bit of a noise around the generator area and after settling into my ‘new home’; for this evening that is, I decided to try and sort out the noise, but after a while I came to the conclusion that the noise was coming from inside the engine cowling and sounds like something from the generator, like a blade from the fan or something that is loose and so the generator will have to be removed to sort the problem out, so it will have to wait until I’m back in Jo’burg on the 6th October.

Thorn went to a church meeting this evening and so after supper Lenske and I had a lengthy chat about the project and with her being an ‘Early Childhood Facilitator” with a private education organisation and who works with; not for, the Education Department, she provided me with a lot of ‘food for thought’ regarding the government’s attitude towards holding children responsible and accountable for their actions, particularly with reference to child rape cases in which the offender is a child himself. She explained that the education department’s approach to teaching is based on the system to ‘facilitate self growth and independent thinking’ and this approach is focused on children and starts with kids in grade 1. Now, my question to our esteemed government is, “If you believe that a child; and this includes a child in grade 1 (6 years old), is capable of ‘independent thinking’ (in other words is capable of thinking for itself), it stands to reason then that the child can be and should be held responsible and accountable for its actions”. Child offenders are definitely on an increase and according to everyone I have spoken to, needs to be looked at very seriously. The biggest problem and the cause of this, is the fact that parents in the rural areas share a room with the kids and openly engage in sex while the kids watch and obviously engage in ‘experimental’ sex acts by raping other kids. It is often said that kids rape other kids because the child himself has been molested, but according to the woman I spoke to in the Tukakgomo Township today, this is not the case. They believe it’s because the men insist on engaging in sex while the kids are watching. This is obviously a major problem because although the woman knows it’s wrong they cannot; or are not allowed to, deprive their husbands of their ‘marital rights’ but because of the living conditions there is no alternative. According to them, “If they don’t comply then their husbands would probably go off and rape some other woman”. It’s a vicious circle. I would really like to receive some comments, opinions and ideas on this one.

So tomorrow I head for Hoedspruit and after visiting the Beares staff and chatting to whoever I can about the child rape situation in that area, I head out for the Klaserie Dam where I will be camping and hopefully getting in some relaxing time fishing, although Buddy desperately needs a good valet service and I have a pile of washing to catch up with, but I’m sure I will accomplish all of this with a line in the water waiting for ‘the big one to bite’ and a cold frosty close by.

So until next we meet on the small screen, keep well and have a great Friday.

Caring regards
Buddy and Me
steve@buddyandme.co.za


Sat
12
Sep '09

Day 39: Wednesday, 9 September 2009

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Categories: Buddy and Me

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This morning found me up and packing and ready to hit the road by 8am. But I had forgotten that it was Alec’s birthday. Alec is Cheryl and Horst’s house man and he hails from Nkata Bay on Lake Malawi and I had visited him and his family when I had passed through Malawi on my African Odyssey project. So after waiting for the shops to open so that I could get him a birthday gift, it was that amazing time that I actually drove out of White River after bidding Horst and Cheryl good bye and thanking them for their truly amazing hospitality and friendship. The date and time was 09-09-09-09-09 (The 09th of the 09th ’09 at 9 minutes passed 9) – how’s that for a date and time? I decided to wait for this time because perhaps it would bring me good luck on the rest of my travels. Unfortunately by waiting it nearly brought me disaster.

When I drove out of White River it was very cloudy with thick mist. This stayed with us for almost all of the way to Lydenburg. The drive was a lovely one with the road winding its way through big hills, which were actually mountains to Buddy, with massive dense Gum and Fir tree plantation forests on both sides of the road. I had to go up some passes which involved me putting Buddy into 2nd gear and chugging slowly up the steep inclines. Cars were going passed us at a pace and I couldn’t help but think that if I was in my other car I would probably be doing the same thing and subsequently miss out on the absolute beauty of the surrounding countryside. On passing through Sabie I couldn’t help but reflect on the cleanliness of the town. Whenever I pass through a town or village I always spend time scrutinising this aspect of the place and thought back to the disappointment I had felt when I had visited those once magnificent little farming towns of places like Wesselsbron, Odendaalsrus and especially Schweizer Reneke, which were all once lovely spotlessly clean towns and on my last visit discovered that they had been turned into almost dumps. So after discovering that the towns in the Lowveld such as White River, Hazyview, Lydenburg, Barberton and Sabie are still lovely and clean and that the residents can feel proud of their town when being visited by tourists and visitors to the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

As I said the dense mist stayed with us for most of the morning and when we started the climb up the Long Tom Pass it really got thick. Because of the speed, or rather lack of it, Buddy and I were travelling at I kept Buddy to the extreme left side of the road so that the other cars could get passed without being forced to reduce to our speed. We approached a sharp left hand bend and as we started to round the corner a truck, another inter-link job, came around the corner towards us and although the cab was still on the correct side of the road, the rear trailer wheels crossed the barrier line and ended up almost halfway into my lane. When the huge rear wheels of the trailer passed us they were so close to Buddy’s right hand side that I’m sure if I had put my hand down the side the wheels would have taken my hand off. I shuddered to think what would have happened if I had been 300 millimetres closer to the centre of my lane or if another car had been in that place instead of me and Buddy. I also gave thought to the accident which May’s niece Sherren had had a couple of months ago when a large truck had done exactly the same thing on a bend in Barbara Road in Primrose, Germiston (Johannesburg) and the rear wheels of the truck had gone over her. She was severely injured and it’s only because of her amazing will and determination that she has recovered as well and as fast as she has. So I considered myself and Buddy to be very lucky (maybe it was because I had delayed our departure from White River until 09-09-09-09-09). Anyway I stopped off at the site of the Long Tom Cannon which was a little further on and sat quietly taking in a few deep breaths. The mist as you can see from the photo was still very thick and just when I thought the climb to the top was over I discovered that we were in fact only about half way up. When we eventually got to the top we suddenly broke into a bright blue cloudless sky. It was like lifting a blanket off my head and the temperature skyrocketed from a very cool 13/14 degrees to a staggering 25 in almost one leap.

Long Tom signboard

Long Tom signboard

Long Tom Cannon

Long Tom Cannon

Clouds of mist in the pass behind me

Clouds of mist in the pass behind me

I arrived at the Beares store in Lydenburg twenty minutes late, not having anticipated the thick mist and the slow progress up the passes, but I received a warm welcome from Mike Matlou the store manager and his friendly staff and after relaxing for a few minutes we were joined by a few other ladiess and we engaged in a lengthy discussion on the subject of child rape.

Lydenburg staff, Mike on top with me

Lydenburg staff, Mike on top with me

Then it was off again, heading for the Didingwe River Lodge which is situated about 60 kilometres out of Lydenburg on the Steelpoort road where I met up with my good friend Robert Jacobs and his colleague Greg Comley-White (he’s very proud of the fact that there are only five individuals in South Africa with this surname and all are related to him). Both work for 3M had kindly offered to share their chalet with me. They were visiting the mines, which there are plenty of, in the area promoting the vast range of products 3M has to offer the industry, and after a quick visit to Steelpoort where a few items needed to ensure we had an enjoyable evening which consisted of a few cold frosties and a braai – hell I didn’t know Rob was such a good cook, but later discovered that Liesl (his wife) had precooked a potato salad and it had been waiting in the fridge for my arrival, so thanks Liesl, the potato salad was delicious. To Rob and Greg, thanks guys for the great evening, the beers were cold the conversation was of quality standard and company was excellent. Oh and thanks for all the 3M goodies, they will definitely come in useful.

Robert (left) and Greg

Robert (left) and Greg

Didngwe River Lodge

Didingwe River Lodge

I have included photo’s into this blog which I normally wouldn’t because a comment was made to me that I don’t include enough pictures of the people and places I visit and that I should get “more personal”. So now you have it. On my next blog I will include more info on the subject of child rape but I thought that today I would give you a rest from the subject so I hope you enjoyed the break. So, until tomorrow, keep your feet on the ground but reach for the stars.

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


Wed
9
Sep '09

Day 38: Tuesday, September 2009

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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This morning, Tuesday the 8th September, found me driving out of White River once again heading north to Hazyview. The weather once again was fantastic and at ten to nine it was already 26,2 degrees. The drive to Hazyview was terrific. The road surface was excellent and the view was magnificent. The road takes a course through dense pine tree plantation forests and because the road follows a route across the top of hills one can see far into the distance. On arriving at the Beares store I was met by the store manager Raymond Green who introduced me to his staff and I was given the opportunity to chat to them about the project and explained how they could help the campaign against child rape by spreading the word and getting their families and friends to go into the web and wherever possible make a donation to one of the organisations listed on the front web page, I just hope and pray that we are going to convince Oprah and Charlize Theron to donate 0ne Dollar for everytime my book is downloaded.

At the Beares store I met, amongst others, a local lady who has spent the last two years studying to be a social worker. It was obvious from our chat that she is really passionate about becoming a social worker but has been told by the department of Social Development that they cannot afford to employ her because they don’t have any money. This is really sad when considering that this type of work is not ‘just a job’ but has to be a commitment. But I told her not to lose faith and rather look around to see if she can’t get into a private NGO and I wish her well in her endeavour to get into this gratifying occupation.

Hazyview staff

Hazyview staff

When it came time for me to leave all my problems started! I jumped into Buddy and waved good bye to the Beares staff. Raymond walked around Buddy and pulled ‘something’ from the windscreen, it turned out to be a R1 500-00 fine. According to the information on the ticket it was because the two spot lights mounted on the bracket above Buddy’s windscreen were too high. Raymond jumped into Buddy’s passenger seat and we headed for the traffic department where we hoped to discuss this ridiculous traffic fine with the relative traffic officer. On the way, Raymond, after checking the ticket told me that we might have a problem because the traffic cop identified in the ticket is well known to be very arrogant and has major attitude, his name is Rautenbach.

On arriving at the traffic offices we were told to wait as the traffic officer was out and that he was on his way,” we must just wait”. After about 20 minutes we walked past an office window and Raymond pointed out that the relative traffic cop was in the office. We got the attention of another traffic cop who went in and told Rautenbach that we were outside and wanted to talk to him. Eventually he materialised and from the start I realised what Raymond meant when he had said this cop has attitude. I explained that Buddy had gone through roadworthy with the lights attached and that I had explained that the lights were for the purpose of going through Africa and that I would be travelling through bushy areas. I had been warned that I could not use the lights on any public road and that if I did I would be subject to a fine. I was also told that the light switch must be an independent switch and that the lights must not be connected to the headlight switch. To this he said he did not care what I had been told, “The law is the law”. I went on to explain that during the last four years I had been stopped literally hundreds of times by traffic officials who after an inspection of Buddy’s general roadworthiness, had shaken my hand, thanked me for the good work Buddy was doing and had wished me well on my travels. On the original project while travelling through South Africa, Buddy and I had been escorted through the majority of towns and cities by traffic officials and never once had I been told that the lights were illegal, it had never even been discussed never mind warned that they were illegal. To this he merely shrugged and insisted that the fine would stand and that I could make legal representation if I felt I was being done in. Eventually Raymond and I realised we were just wasting our time. Before leaving and because I was really livid I did make a comment to the effect that if ever it should happen that someone he knows is raped he must remember that he did nothing to help someone who is spending his life fighting that exact problem, later I did regret saying this, and obviously it did not go down well and he threatened to confiscate my licence disc and send buddy in for a compulsory road test. Raymond decided that I could be getting myself into more hot water and persuaded me to call it a day and accept the situation for what it was.

But to traffic cop Rautenbach of the Hazyview traffic department, I hope giving Buddy a fine for R1 500-00 made your day, and I am sure that when you show your wife and kids the brochure on the project reflecting Buddy’s picture and the ‘big bad lights’ for which you deprived Buddy of 6 tanks of petrol they will be very proud of you. I know I sound bitter but if I had been stopped and fined for contravening a law which endangered a fellow road user’s life, like speeding etc, I would accept the fine and pay it. But I am very conscious of Buddy’s necessity to be roadworthy and in fact when I had left Piet Retief I had indicated to turn right onto the Barberton road and the car behind me had over taken on the left and the driver indicated that I should indicate when turning. I immediately stopped and discovered that Martin and Daryl’s dog had chewed the cables off the trailer’s rear tail lights. I immediately took out my tools and reconnected the wires before continuing on my way. The other problem I had with having to accept the fine was that Buddy had been parked outside Beares store in a private shopping centre’s parking lot. But then I suppose this just indicates the calibre and mentality of this particular traffic cop. Oh I forgot to tell you, just prior to our arrival at the traffic department, a member of the South African Police Services had just punched Rautenbach because of his arrogant attitude, I hope it was a good one. But be that as it may, traffic cop Rautenbach of Hazyview, have a lovely day today.

Soon after driving out of the shopping centre and while still in the CBD area of Hazyview I passed two vehicles, a Bakkie and a Land Rover which had spot lights mounted on the roofs and couldn’t help wondering if these were perhaps Rautenbach’s game farmer buddies because I see vehicles with lights mounted on top of their roof for this purpose on the road every day.

Soon after leaving Hazyview with a bitter taste in my mouth, I quickly relaxed, it’s difficult not to, what with the magnificent scenery and lovely road surface, it just seems to calm you down. I had been asked by Annésta of GRIP to pop back to their offices in the afternoon if I could because one of their ladies, Sibongile, had attended a six day seminar on ‘Human trafficking’ and she was sure the information would be useful to me. I arrived back in Nelspruit in sweltering heat at 2:30 and met Sibongile. She confirmed having attended the seminar and explained that human trafficking is occurring on a large scale in the Nelspruit/Mpumalanga area and it is a major concern to the authorities. She confirmed the information I had already received to be correct and that was, that there are Nigerian and Mozambiquecan syndicates involved in the human trafficking industry who are persuading young girls to travel to Nelspruit with the promise of top paying jobs and from there they are abducted, usually after being drugged, to various Arab and European countries. Young kids are also being abducted from the larger cities and brought to Nelspruit where they are kept drugged in ‘Guest Houses’; not the type we would usually stay in, and then smuggled across the borders and sent to the previously mentioned countries. Sibongile then shared some information with me that really rattled me. She told me that apart from Thailand, no other country had legislation against ‘Human Trafficking”. There is no law against it in South Africa or any other country apart from Thailand. The only charge that can be levied against the culprits abducting the young girls and boys is kidnapping, and this is very difficult to prove as in most cases the individuals choose to leave home and follow what they believe is a dream of a nice cushy job. The fact that they are drugged is a difficult thing to prove, whether they started taking drugs of their own free will or if they were forced into it. It is obviously a very serious business and Sibongile confirmed that the authorities are very concerned about the situation, especially when considering the fact that the World Cup starts pretty soon.

Earlier this evening I received a call from a lady who wanted to meet with me to discuss the project and at about 8:30pm Rachel and Daniel Graber arrived at Cheryl and Horst’s house. They proved to be a really interesting couple and Rachel explained that she had been instrumental in compiling a book which had been written by an African about Africa and it’s people. The author of the book, Kasongo Munza, unfortunately passed away recently but the book is evidently selling like hot cakes. I obviously have not had a chance to read it yet, I only received it an hour ago but after paging through it I am sure that it’s going to make very interesting reading, so I will keep you informed.

Well tomorrow I head out of White River back on the road again heading for Lydenburg and ever northwards on my crusade against child rape. So until next when I sit in front of my computer and try to capture my thoughts and travels in writing, keep well, keep in touch by e-mailing your thoughts and opinions on the subject of child rape and human trafficking. I really look forward to hearing from everyone.

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


Wed
9
Sep '09

Day 37: Monday, 7 September 2009

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Categories: Buddy and Me

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Well the weekend went past pretty quickly, this tends to happen when you are being hosted by two terrific people like Cheryl and Horst Reum. Unfortunately it was spoilt for me by the news of Zaks untimely death, but at the time of receiving the information I was on my way to the White (Wit) River to do some Bass fishing with Horst. This gave me an opportunity to sit alone alongside the river and think, mostly about the last time I had seen Zak, which was on my last visit to Germiston (the picture displayed on yesterday’s blog), and to think about the information I had learned to date on this project. (Sorry, yes you are right, we – Horst and I – didn’t catch any fish but a friend of Horst’s who joined us, Mike, did, one small Black Bass). On arriving ‘home’ – home being wherever I am sleeping at that particular time – I checked my itinerary/diary and discovered that I had in fact made allowances for Buddy to undergo whatever surgery he might need from Surgeon Specialist Horst today (Monday) but Horst’s trusted assistant medical practitioner, Johan sorted out the racket being made by Buddy’s rear end by replacing four bolts from the engine cover which had been lost somewhere along the way and this had been accomplished on Saturday morning. This therefore meant that I could take Annésta up on her offer to show me GRIP’s infrastructure and systems. I immediately phoned her and she was only to happy to accommodate me, unfortunately she would be away on pressing business but promised that Colette Coetzee, GRIP’s accountant would be happy to show me around.

My visit to the GRIP facilities proved to be a mind boggling experience. We started off at their offices where I was introduced to numerous employees; all were obviously very keen and happy in their various functions, a really happy bunch. Then it was on to the police station where I was shown how the ‘Care Room’ is attended twenty four hours a day by a ‘diffuser’ (Councillor) and a police lady dressed in civilian clothes is also in attendance twenty four hours-seven days a week (the civilian clothes are obviously for the purpose of putting the ‘Survivor’ (victim) at ease). The ‘Care Room’ also has sleeping facilities; this is usually for situations where a woman has been abused by her husband, etc. They are in the process of establishing a ‘shelter’ in the Nelspruit CBD area and this will hopefully be opened during December. The Shelter will provide accommodation for 15 individuals and five family units. It was explained to me that every document included in the police docket and this includes the all important J88 form (the medical examination and probably the most important document in a police docket) is copied and filed in a duplicate file and held by GRIP. This is to alleviate the customary ‘losing of dockets’ problem. GRIP staff constantly monitor the investigation ensuring that the case does not drag on which results in the child giving bad evidence and enabling the defence council to get the perpetrator off on ‘technicalities’.

From the police station we visited the Rob Ferreira Hospital. This proved to be a shocking experience. I wasn’t feeling very well and asked Colette to point me in the direction of the gent’s toilets. She looked at me, shook her head and said “I don’t think you want to visit the facilities in this hospital”, but I located them and within 10 seconds of entering decided that the need could wait until we arrived at a more savoury establishment. To say that the hospital building, I won’t even mention the toilet facilities, were disgusting is putting it mildly and I shudder to think what diseases could be picked up by entering the premises. But the GRIP office was undoubtedly the cleanest section of the hospital and I was introduced to the GRIP lady who is involved in the actual examination of the ‘Survivor’. The hospital ‘Care Room’ facility enables the ‘Survivor’ to be treated/examined without having to wait in long tiresome queues.

Then it was on to the court. I must say the system implemented by GRIP here is outstanding. They have a ‘Care Room’ in which the child is put at ease with a television set, toys and books. When the child’s testimony is required, the child is then taken to a room adjoining the court which is also ‘child friendly’ and in which is linked to the Regional Court by way of a microphone and video system. The child does not see what is going on in the court and only hears the voice of the Judge or defence council or whoever is asking questions. The lady ‘Diffuser’ is fully au fait with the court procedures and spends quite a bit of time instructing the child in these procedures.

I was then taken on a tour of the Kanyamazane Township which by the way is huge, and was taken to meet an 8 year-old ‘Survivor, who had been raped in June 2008 at the age of 7 by a 41 year-old neighbour. The little girl was found to be HIV positive due to the rape and is currently on the necessary medication provided by GRIP. One of the other functions performed by GRIP is to provide a qualified community nurse who visits ‘Survivors’ ensuring that they are taking their medication and to do periodic HIV testing due to the ‘window period’ in the comfort of the ‘Survivor’s’ own home.

On hearing the details of this particular rape, my blood boiled. The perpetrator was released, as usual on bail. He now resides a short distance from the ‘Survivor’s’ house. The investigation of the case was evidently finalised sometime ago. A court date was set down for last week for the purposes of setting a trial date. The accused failed to appear in court, and the docket did not arrive in court. The worst, or no that’s still to come, the part that I don’t understand is the fact that the accused’s bail was not revoked and an order was not issued for his arrest. Now for the best part, the investigating officer is related to the accused! I ask you, how can the police force allow a detective to investigate a case where the accused is related to the investigating officer, totally ludicrous.

As it was getting late, Colette decided that it was time for a break and so stood me to a magic lunch at a beautiful restaurant called The Montana Garden Pavilion, where we sat in a bush environment with all sorts of birds chirping around us. Based on what I had been shown I can fully appreciate the fact that the conviction rate in the Nelspruit/Mpumalanga Region currently stands at a staggering 60%. This is undoubtedly due to the outstanding job the dedicated staff of GRIP is doing. Guys you are doing a remarkable job keep up the excellent work, I just wish you could obtain the necessary funding to allow you to do the same on a national basis. Unfortunately GRIP is totally funded through overseas donors and does not receive funding from the South African government. I was provided with a copy of the GRIP Annual Report 2009 as well as a copy of the booklet used to instruct the child survivor in the court procedures. Once I have had a chance to study this I will provide more details of GRIP’s operations and the great work they are doing.

On returning ‘home’ at 4:30 I enjoyed a dip in the pool, it had been a stinking hot day, and of course a cold frostie went down very well. Later Cheryl, Horst and I sat on the veranda participating in the heavenly past time of star gazing.

Cheryl, on an outing Sunday afternoon to the dam in Buddy

Cheryl, on an outing Sunday afternoon to the dam in Buddy

Horst and Cheryl Reum

Horst and Cheryl Reum

Steve

Steve

So with that, I think I have said enough for one day and so will bid you au revoir until next time. Tomorrow I head for Hazyview that spectacularly beautiful part of the country.

Keep well
Caring regards
Steve and Buddy

steve@buddyandme.co.za


Tue
8
Sep '09

Day 36: Sunday, 6 September 2009

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Categories: Buddy and Me

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This blog/diary is undoubtedly the most difficult one I have ever had to write. This morning, Sunday the 6th of September, I was contacted by my good friend Gaston from the Gem Bar in Lambton Germiston, who informed me that our friend Zak Enslin was tragically killed in a motor cycle accident last night at 11 pm, I think it was on Rondebult Road in Boksburg, Johannesburg. Zak is the guy in the picture which was displayed on my blog dated the 25th August and is the guy in the blue shirt next to Mandy (Gem Bar owner) on my right.

Zak Enslin, with friends at Gem Bar, Lambton, Germiston

Zak Enslin, with friends at Gem Bar, Lambton, Germiston

Zak was, believe me, a man of integrity, a scholar and a gentleman. I was shattered by the news of his untimely death and can only imagine the impact of his death on his wife Susan, his two sons Marko and Ruan, aged 11 and 5 who he adored, as well as the impact on his other close friends and buddies of the Derelicts Motor Cycle Club, Ryan, Mike, Paul, Shaun and Andre as well as his close friends and comrades, Mandy, Gaston and Gail with whom he shared his life and love of riding free.

Steve, the Vintage Rebel

Steve, the Vintage Rebel

To Zak from me, ‘The Vintage Rebel’, my man, I regret that I can’t be at your final departure but I know you will forgive me for that, but I dedicate the song I always played for the ‘Derelicts’ at the Gem bar, ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky’ and every time I play that song I will think of you and I know that you will now be able to ride to your hearts content, as ‘A Ghost Rider In the Sky’; and teach those other moogooses how. So God speed my friend and rest in peace. To Susan, Marko and Ruan you have my heartfelt condolences but be proud and thankful, as we are, for having being blessed with the privilege of having known Zak and for being allowed to have been a part of his life, even if it was for just a short time. But hold in your hearts, as I will, the good times and great memories that Zak left with us.

Your friends
Steve and Buddy


Tue
8
Sep '09

Day 34: Friday, 4 September 2009

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Categories: Buddy and Me

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Driving through Nelspruit this Friday morning was a really shocker for me. Since my last visit to Nelspruit the place has developed into a major, bustling city which resulted in me and Buddy fighting our way through hordes of traffic, oh for the open country roads again.

My visit to the Beares store proved to be a very interesting one. The store manager who is also the acting area manager, Abrie Kleynhans arranged for me to meet two really interesting people, Inspector Dawie Pretorius of the Nelspruit SAPS (South African Police Services) and Annésta Hofer, CEO of GRIP (Greater Rape Intervention Programme). GRIP is an NGO based in Mpumalanga that provides an unbelievable support structure to abused woman and children with the emphasis on rape. This structure includes victim friendly care room facilities at 26 police stations, hospitals and courts in the Mpumalanga region. The facilities reduce the secondary trauma a child experiences when being faced with the questioning process they are subjected to when being questioned by the police and court officials as well as the unsavoury experience of having to wait in a packed waiting room of a hospital while awaiting an examination. Annésta went on to confirm that due to the excellent working relationship which has been formed between their organisation and the police as well as the courts, the conviction rate in the Nelspruit region and greater Mpumalanga region stands at a staggering 60%. On hearing this I obviously thought “Ya right I’ve been told this by police and courts in other regions around South Africa” but when I asked for proof of this I have always been told “Sorry we can’t provide that”, but Annésta confirmed that the GRIP Annual Report 2009; which she presented me with would confirms this figure, and it did. On hearing and getting confirmation of this I was gob-smacked. When considering that the national conviction rate stands at a ridiculous 4%, some officials have argued this point claiming that it is actually at around 6%, wow I mean that’s a really big difference, and the fact that the conviction rate in Nelspruit stands at a mind blowing 60%, if Nelspruit’s conviction rate was removed from the national figure I would hate to see what would happen to the national conviction rate, it would probably drop to a ridiculous one and a half percent.

I obviously asked why the 40% were getting away, and the response was 1) the length of time it takes to get many cases finalised, sometimes up to two and three years. The problem experienced here is the fact that the child is counselled to forget the trauma it has been subjected to, and to try and get the child onto a path on which it can hopefully get to live some kind of ‘normal’ life. But then two or three years down the line it is expected to remember the fine details of the trauma it had been subjected to when being cross examined/questioned by an Advocate. This ‘interrogation’ is in itself a traumatic experience for an adult not to mention a child. 2) Parents are offered financial reward from the perpetrator when he is released on bail and due to the fact that invariably the parent and child are victimised by the perpetrator the parent elects to accept the money and the case falls apart.

GRIP’s other function is to prepare the victim, or rather survivor as they prefer to call them, for their possible facing of the perpetrator when required to do so in court. Although GRIP have established fantastic ‘care room’ facilities at the courts from which the child ‘survivor’ (those under 12 years of age) can give his or her evidence via a microphone system connected to the court, the child is required to enter the court and identify the perpetrator physically and this can, without proper counselling, be highly traumatic for the child.

There is obviously a lot to learn about GRIP’s involvement in the providing of a top class support structure for child rape victims and so Annésta offered to take me on a ‘field’ excursion of their facilities whenever I could get the time, and I definitely will be taking her up on her offer at my first opportunity.

The information I learned from Inspector Dawie Pretorius was that the information I had obtained from the Control Prosecutor in Pongola was in fact incorrect. This is in regard to the point raised by her that frequently they receive dockets from the police in which the perpetrator is charged under the old rape act which results in the case being thrown out of court. According to Inspector Pretorius this cannot occur due to the fact that when the case is logged, if the correct act is not specified the ‘system’ will reject the case. He did however agree that in the majority of cases the policemen do not know what the act is or know anything about the ‘new’ Sexual Offences Act 32 of 2007. He also provided me with a lot of information pertaining to the ‘Community Policing Forum’ which from the sounds of it is a brilliant initiative and I believe that the communities should get more involved in this and anyone interested in this sector should contact their local police station for more information regarding monthly meetings.

Beares staff, Nelspruit

Beares staff, Nelspruit

Okay so that’s all for me for this Friday, so now I’m heading out for White River where I will be spending the weekend with Cheryl and Horst Reum where hopefully Horst will sort out that irritating noise which is once again being experienced from Buddy’s rear end, in-spite of the steel band/bracket fitted by Frank van der Merwe in Richards Bay and welded in Pongola still being in place.

So until later, keep your feet on the ground but reach for the stars.
Caring regards
Buddy and Me (Steve)

P.S. Don’t forget to send your comments and opinions on child rape to us via
steve@buddyandme.co.za
we look forward to hearing from you.


Fri
4
Sep '09

Day 33: Thursday, 3 September 2009

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Buddy and my stay in Barberton proved to be a really great one thanks to the really friendly guys from Round Table. There was a couple of things that happened in Barberton which I did not mention in my last blog, mainly because I felt that I had already said enough for one day, I have been told on a number of occasions that once I start talking it’s very difficult to shut me up. So now I will start again.

While in Barberton I popped in to visit the St Johns Care Centre. This is a centre which provides accommodation and care for HIV/Aids kids who are born HIV positive due to pregnancy as well as children who contract HIV/Aids through rape. I cannot express in words how amazing this place is. It’s probably the cleanest and best facility I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. The age of the kids varies from birth to the oldest who is 15 years of age but has been there since he was 3 years of age. He is a very serious Aids patient who also suffers from Cerebral Palsey which was contracted at birth. I had a really great talk with an amazing lady who works at the centre, Reena, who is obviously extremely passionate about her work. The thing that really got to me is the fact that the centre is financially supported mainly by foreign financial support and by funds raised by the Barberton Round Table. The most amazing thing is that all the kids who are brought to the centre are sent there by the Child Welfare Department. I find it absolutely incredible that the government department that sends the kids there for care doesn’t even fund the place.

The other bit of information I wanted to share was the stats presented by a lady from the Barberton Police Services. After I had presented the stats reflected in Solidarities’ last report regarding the fact that according to their information and research, there are 580 cases of child rape occurring every day in South Africa, she proudly told us that the Barberton area is not so bad because the police only received a total of 43 rape cases during the period 1 January to 1 Sept 2009. This reflected an increase of 88.37% over the same period the previous year. I think I was not the only one stunned by her statement, because everyone went very quiet and looked at me waiting in anticipation for my response which was, ” Don’t you think that’s perhaps because the community in this area don’t have much faith in the police force’s ability to investigate the crime and that by reporting it is a waste of time, because I am pretty sure; from what I have been hearing from all these people, that that is the number of child rape cases occurring on a daily basis in this area”. Everyone, excepting the police lady of course, agreed unanimously with this.

She did however provide me with the gruesome details of a shocking rape which had taken place in Barberton a few months ago. A ‘man’; if I can be so bold as to call him that, arrived at the local hospital after raping an 8 month old baby with the baby still attached to him. The baby was dead and he offered a nurse R10 000-00 to remove the baby without anyone knowing. Fortunately she was a lady of integrity and phoned the police who arrived and arrested him. The bad news I received later was that he is still out on bail pending his trial.

And so onto my departure from Barberton and my trip to Nkomazi, or rather the town of Kamaqhekeza (Now I would love to hear you pronounce that one). One of the perks of travelling around the country in an open Beach Buggy researching and bringing awareness to the morbid subject of child rape, is the fact that I get to drive through the most beautiful and tranquil parts of South Africa; the second perk of course is that I get to meet some of the most amazingly friendly and hospitable people of the country, and this morning was no exception. After bidding farewell to the friendly bunch of guys from Barberton Round Table, which unfortunately due to work pressures only consisted of Warren Hearne, Gavin Hearne and Stephen Collins who had very generously provided me with accommodation in his home, I headed out on the Kaapmuiden road and then onto the N4 with that ridiculously expensive R42-00 toll (and it’s not even a dual carriage way road) and then through Malelane, where I dropped off the trailer at the Beares store, and then continued on to Kamaqhekeza (there’s that word again).

The store manager, Rudi Mocke did a tremendous job in securing the attendance of a very large group of local community leaders and other people involved in community development. The group included a Head Master, a couple of teachers (or Educators as they are now known), no less than three Pastors, as well as Social Workers from the Department of Social Development and a few other organisations. To date, whenever I had talked to groups, the people were rather slow or shy to talk initially, but this group was actively involved in the discussion from the start and the discussion went on for over two hours, which of course delayed my departure from the store and my subsequent arrival at the Malelane store, but the delay was well worth it. The main discussion was centred around the fact, and every single person unanimously agreed, that the current ‘rehabilitation’ programme which was brought into practice by the government is not working. Everyone agreed that the prisons or Correctional Services as it is now known (which according to me should be called the ‘Recreational Services) is far too soft on convicts (sorry ‘in-mates’, I just don’t know whose ‘mates’ they are). Convicts, it was agreed, are now being given far too many ‘rights’ and the system should revert to the old system in which, when a person is jailed for committing a crime, he or she is banished from society and subsequently relinquishes all his or her rights to participate in society, which includes voting etc. Secondly, if he or she wishes to study while in prison, the convict must pay for these expenses themselves. Why should tax payers hard earned money be spent educating these ????, while the victims of the crimes can’t afford to pay for this type of education for themselves or their children.

The other topic discussed at length was the one closest to my heart, the fact that the welfare departments are not only under-funded but not funded at all. This topic arose when one gentleman, actually a Pastor, stood up and said that he believes that the curbing of child rape lies in the hands of the woman/mothers who, because child rape is occurring more by fathers and uncles (family members) the mothers should be putting their feet down and reporting the matter so that the justice system can deal with the culprits appropriately. This of course sparked off a discussion about the fact that if the mothers do report it and if the husband/father is jailed, who will feed and care for the family, and this goes for the instances where an uncle rapes the child as well, who will care for his family. At this point I jumped in and reiterated my point about the fact that the State should divert all the money it is spending on ‘rehabilitating’ prisoners, and spend those fortunes on the Welfare Department to ensure that when a father/husband is held responsible and accountable for raping his daughter or son, the Welfare Department can do it’s job and ensure that the family is looked after and provide the assistance to ensure that the mother can obtain work to support the family. As I said, it was truly a brilliant discussion; I just wish that our politicians would do the same sort of thing and get their backsides off their comfortable office chairs and driving their fancy cars while endangering the other road user’s lives while driving at ridiculous speeds while being escorted by arrogant gun happy body guards, and listen to what the people who elected them into power want, instead of making useless promises and giving more rights to those who commit crimes and kill and rape innocent people.

Inside the store at Kamaqhekeza

Discussion group at the Kamaqhekeza Beares store

Beares Kamaqhekeza

Beares Kamaqhekeza

Beares Kamaqhekeza

Beares Malelane

Then it was back to Malelane where I had a chat with the Beares staff and relaxed for a few minutes chatting to Lucky Shabalala the store manager and Abrie Kleynhans the Regional Manager before heading for the Malelane Lubners store, where I also had a long chat to the staff about the project and to ensure that they support the project by getting all their family and friends who have internet access to visit the website. And on that subject, I still need to obtain e-mail contact details of Oprah and Charlize Theron so that I can obtain their support by donating a Dollar (preferably US and not Zim) for every time someone down loads my book from the website. I did send an e-mail but I don’t think it’s a personal address and don’t know if they received it. So anyone who has or can obtain an e-mail address for these ladies please forward it to me at steve@buddyandme.co.za

Lubners Malelane

Lubners Malelane

I then headed off to Nelspruit where I intended chancing my arm by approaching Sue Field who owns the lovely guest house called ‘The Arches Guest House’ in Nelspruit and who had kindly sponsored me accommodation when I had travelled through Nelspruit on my last project, and see if I could twist her arm into helping me with accommodation again. When I entered the premises, Buddy was making such a racket Sue had in fact heard me approaching long before I entered the premises and was standing at the office entrance waiting for me and called out “Hey Steve, are you back on the road again with that noisy vehicle?” and enquired as to when was I going to have Buddy’s exhaust quietened down. She of course immediately confirmed that she had one room still available and that I was welcome to it. So I have had a really lovely stay here at ‘The Arches Guest House’ where this morning (Friday the 4th September) I have enjoyed a magnificent breakfast and on signing off will be heading to the Nelspruit Beares store.

The Arches Guest House contact details are: Tel: 013-741 4937
E-mail: thearches@telkomsa.net
Web: www.thearches.co.za

If you are visiting the Nelspruit area staying here is a must!

From there I will head for White River where I will be spending the weekend with that amazing couple Cheryl and Horst Reum, where hopefully Horst, who is a Beetle genius, will sort out the racket that Buddy’s generator is making again in-spite of the metal band/strap that Frank fitted on in Richards Bay.

So with that I will say ciao for now.

Keep sending e-mails with info and opinions to steve@buddyandme.co.za

Caring regards
Steve and Buddy


Thu
3
Sep '09

Day 32: Wednesday, 2 September 2009

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Categories: Buddy and Me

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Okay so we are back. So after spending a day with Martin, Daryl (My cousin) and their fishing crazy son Kyle, I managed a couple of repair jobs on Buddy (I actually wanted to go fishing but that was out of the question because I had to wait while a hiccough was being sorted out with my internet connection) but all was sorted out thanks to Paul back in Germiston and so I decided to spend the afternoon cooking up a curry and watching Kyle play cricket.

This morning I was up bright and early; 5:30 and after saying my good byes and thanks to the Van Deventer family for their kind and brilliant hospitality, I was heading out of Piet Retief just after 6:30am in the direction of Barberton. The drive through this magnificent part of the country was exquisite. The morning started off fresh, 11-13 degrees but soon warmed up and for most of the drive remained in the mid to high twenties, but by 2:30 in the afternoon reached a scorching 39.6 degrees. Soon after passing through Warburton and turning left onto the Badplaas road, I started encountering signs which really made me smile. In fact soon after having passed the first one May called me on my cell and I had to stop to talk to her. When I told her what the sign read she quickly said “Oh God then don’t stop, keep going”. This is the sign, which by the way was repeated numerous times for the next 30 kilometres or so.

What really made me smile was the fact that we, who live in Jo’burg or any other major city in South Africa for that matter, live in crime ridden areas where violent crime occurs every day and night and I have never seen a sign warning people, especially visitors to the area to be on the alert for crime.

On arriving at the Beares store in Barberton I was met by a crowd of about 20 people, mostly ladies from various institutions in Barberton. These included ladies from Thandanani Home Care Centre, Ngwane combined school, Grip, SAPS, and social workers from the area. There were a number of others from institutions that unfortunately I cannot interpret from the spelling of the names which were written down for me. But I believe that every single person present agreed on one major point. The government has got to get serious about stopping child rape and the quickest means of doing that is by implementing harsh punishments. It’s one thing to have legislation stating that on conviction such and such a sentence will be imposed and the courts imposing stringent and severe prison sentences, but it’s of no use if the prisoner is released after only having served a fraction of the sentence. It was unanimously agreed that the systems imposed by the Botswana and even Namibian authorities are more effective. In those countries when someone is sentenced to 15 years for instance, the prisoner will serve 15 years in prison, there is no early parole or getting released for good behaviour. They believe that he should have behaved himself before being convicted. And secondly, and most importantly, those two States do not spend hundreds of millions of tax payer’s hard earned money on a rehabilitation program to try and make this thug a ‘better’ person.

The other point that was discussed in depth, was the fact that parents need to be educated regarding the severe mental trauma associated with child and toddler rape. Parents not reporting the rape of their children and not ensuring that the child receives the all important counselling needed to help the child get through the trauma, do not realise the damage they are causing to the child. While on this point, I related some details which a psychologist had told me, and that was that according to him, probably as many as 85% of the patients presently in mental disorder institutions were not born with mental disorders but were caused by child and toddler rape.

To Elsabé van Rooyen, the Beares Store Manager, thank you for organising so many people from the Barberton area for me to talk to; the fact that they were from so many varied organisations associated with the crime of child rape was remarkable.

I received an e-mail from a lady who related a story of child rape which she has given me permission to write about but did request that I do not mention her name. Her story related to the fact that she was a victim of child rape and was too scared to tell anyone and grew up believing that it was her fault. The incident changed her life forever and even changed who she was. This resulted in her over-protecting her daughter only to discover that her husband and father of her daughter had been doing the same to her daughter. She could not believe that it had happened to her own daughter. After being released from prison, he moved to England where he tried to rape his 11 year old daughter from another marriage. This, as far as I am concerned, proves the fact that obviously the punishment was not severe enough to discourage him from doing the same thing again. During my talk with the ladies at the Beares store this afternoon I related a story which I believe proves my point. If I was a wealthy man and owned a Porsche and it was a thrill to me was to drive the Porsche at 200 kilometres an hour through the main street of Barberton at peak hour traffic, and if the fine/punishment for doing this was R100-00, I would pay the police the money and do it. But if the fine/punishment for doing this was R100 000-00 accompanied by the confiscation of the vehicle plus ten years in jail I would not do it once, never mind a second time. Food for thought…

Fortunately for me Round Table has a club in Barberton and so on contacting Andrew Lea, the Chairman of the Barberton Round Table Club he confirmed that plans were in place to arrange accommodation with Round Tabler Warren Hearn who in turn confirmed that Round Tabler Stephen Collins would put me up for the night. So after a cooling shower we headed off to a local eating establishment where I met a whole group of Round Tablers and we had a merry time. Obviously a whole heap of beers were consumed and we had a most enjoyable evening. So to all the Barberton Round Tablers, thanks guys for your kind hospitality and friendship.

With that I’m going to wish you a good night and keep well.

Caring regards
Steve and Buddy


Tue
1
Sep '09

Day 30: Monday, 31 August 2009

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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Hi it’s us again, Buddy and Me. Well, after a short break (if one can call it that) we are back in Piet Retief and raring to go. Our next stop which will be Wednesday the 2nd September in Barberton, that really amazing beautiful part of South Africa. So, while we were back in Germiston – home – a few things had to be done to Buddy to get him road healthy and to the new computer to make it user/project friendly. Buddy’s surgery involved getting his front suspension sorted out, all nice and new with new king pins and a whole lot of other ‘things’ which also included new manifold rubbers (whatever those are) which were fitted by Gideon of GP Beetles in Alberton North (011 – 869 5590). These guys are absolute geniuses when it comes to Beetles and Beach Buggies, so if you live on the East Rand and own one of these classic vehicles and need a good job done, remember I told you where to go and I have Buddy’s permission to say so.

Gail and Paul

Gail and Paul

Next was the ‘never ending story’ of my computer. Finally, after having received my new computer from, dare I say the word – PC Zone Sanlam Centre Pinetown – thanks to Beares?, the job of downloading all my ‘stuff’ from the old computer to the new one was left to Gail and Paul, my two computer fundies. Gail as you should know by now, does the posting of my blogs from e-mail form to the blog site; I’m too doff to do this. But after a few hours of hard work at the Gem Bar with Paul and Gail hard at work and me watching over their shoulder trying to learn how this troublesome machine works, with a Millers or two in hand of course being passed to me on a regular basis by my good friend Ryan Robins ( I was going to say buddy but Buddy would take offence to that and will probably start causing me problems again) who is the President of the Derelicts Motor Cycle Club in Lambton, but the job was finally completed. So now I have my new computer operating and all is well, mechanically and computer wise that is.

Ryan Robins

Ryan Robins

After the computer was sorted out, I had to sit through an agonising game of rugby and was forced to watch the Sharks get beaten by Western Province! But Gail got the satisfaction of witnessing the Lions beating the Bulls.

While at ‘home’ I got to watch TV, normally I never get to watch TV because I’m either meeting with people or writing my blog or doing something that keeps me away from the set, not to mention the fact that usually where I am staying there isn’t a TV anyway. But, I must say, something that got my attention was the number of strike actions that are going on around the country. I’m afraid I must say that I am one of those individuals who are totally opposed to strike action. I believe that if you have a problem with what you are being paid for the work you are doing, or you are dissatisfied with your working conditions, then it is your prerogative to resign and find work elsewhere that pays better or has better working conditions. If you can’t get a job that pays better or has better working conditions, then be damned grateful that you have a job, particularly when we are experiencing the horrific unemployment situation that we are in South Africa. One group of strikers I ran into in Richards Bay was the employees of Game. Now, I have experienced numerous problems when entering a Game store and when I have approached a staff member on the floor to help locate a specific item, I am met with a blank look and the response “No we don’t have that” or “It’s out of stock’ while in the mean time he or she does not have a clue what I am looking for and are just too lazy to take the time to help me. So I’m afraid, to those staff striking perhaps you should buck up and earn the salaries that you are being paid before striking for more pay. The same goes for the Municipal workers who seem to be permanently on strike! But I must say the best I saw this last week was the fact that the army were on strike and fighting with the police at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. I mean can you believe it, the army has a union. But after consideration I couldn’t help but think that perhaps this could be a good idea. Can you imagine the British army or the German army having unions during the first and second world wars? Perhaps if they did and they called a strike the wars would have ended a lot earlier and thousands of lives would have been saved… Right!

Anyway, so this morning after getting Buddy’s wheel alignment and balancing done by Super Quick in Lambton (thanks guys you have been added to my list of stars) I headed out for Piet Retief. Initially it was a great drive, the weather was amazing and Buddy was purring along like he has never done before. That was until I reached a spot about fifteen kilometres before Ermelo where, after I had just descended a down hill slope and started up a gradual incline which had a blind bend at the top, I looked up into my rear view mirror and saw a truck with super link trailers attached coming up behind me at a pace. After almost climbing over Buddy and me, the truck’s front bumper was almost touching Buddy’s tow-bar, then this idiot suddenly pulled out and started overtaking me. With the blind bend looming and while on the solid barrier line, the truck was right alongside me with me and Buddy situated about halfway along the first trailer and a taxi was now right on my rear end. Then the drama started. Two oncoming vehicles appeared in front of the truck and he just kept on going. At the last second when I realised that an almighty accident was imminent, the two oncoming vehicles swerved off the road onto the gravel and grass. The truck driver decided that I, being in a small Beach Buggy was inconsequential, veered to the left forcing me and Buddy onto the gravel and grass. We went bouncing and careering through knee high grass and God only knows how we survived. If there had been a donga or rock, project Buddy and Me Searching for a Solution to Child Rape would have ended there. The taxi driver behind me fortunately slowed down and let me back onto the road and I gave chase. I caught up with the truck about two kilometres outside Ermelo and when the driver realised I was behind him he turned left off the main road and started taking a series of back roads, all the time cutting me off whenever I tried to pass. At an intersection I managed to get passed and tried to force him to stop by braking in front of him, but every time I did this he almost wiped out Buddy’s rear end by swerving out to overtake and I was forced to pull off again. Eventually I got him to stop and turned around to write down the trucks registration number. I started climbing out of Buddy and the driver, while sitting in the truck, brandished a Knob Kerry and started shouting at me, all the time giving the African international sign of “I will kill you” by pulling his finger across his throat. I suddenly realised that he had led me into the middle of an informal settlement and I was surrounded by a growing crowd of the local inhabitants who were starting to get quite aggressive and shouting at me. So there was only one thing left for me and Buddy to do, with the truck registration number and company’s name in hand I decided to withdraw and leave while Buddy and I were still in one piece. But I learnt first hand why we are experiencing the devastating cases of road rage that we do in South Africa because I know a few people who would have probably turned the situation into a civil war. But be that as it may, to the driver of the truck, registration number DHG 257 MP and super link trailer DLX 772 MP who works/drives for a trucking company by the name of MZIKI who I think moves coal (because the trailers are the large green bin type trailers) and who operates in the Ermelo district, I will be making a report to the Piet Retief police and the road is long and I will be looking out for you.

While on my last project, I passed a sign on the side of the road which is about twenty kilometres out of Ermelo on the way to Piet Retief and this morning I noticed it again. It’s quite a large board erected a few metres from the road which is in memory of those killed through violent crime, and a short way behind the board is a large ‘mock’ grave site and so I decided to stop and photograph it and share it with you. So to all those who have lost loved ones to violent crime in South Africa, this is a memorial for you and your lost loved ones.

Memorial site

Memorial site

I think I have said enough for now and will soon be ?On the road again? (You know that old Johnny Cash song – the guy I’m related to – I’m shorta cash) to Barberton and I will fill you in on some more details surrounding the child rape situation in South Africa. So until then, keep well and keep the e-mails and info on child rape coming in. Oh yes, next time I will tell you about a case which was e-mailed to me, a really sad story. So keep tuned.

Caring regards
Buddy and Me
E-mail: steve@buddyandme.co.za