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Fri
16
Oct '09

Day 75: Thursday, 15 October 2009

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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To watch Buddy and Me in real time click on the Bandit link on the right hand navigation pane, select South Africa under “Global Fleet Logins:” in the left hand panel, enter 0822549129 and password Buddy.

This morning I had to leave a little earlier than anticipated because, before going through to the Brakpan Beares store, I had to make a stop in Benoni for an interview with the Benoni local newspaper reporter Clyde. As I was entering Benoni I received a call from Rose Maja, she is the lady I had the fortuitous meeting with outside the Benoni Lubners store yesterday from the iThemba Rape & Trauma Support Centre. She asked me to please try and make a turn at their offices in Benoni sometime during the morning as they wanted to discuss the possibility of ‘Buddy and Me’ joining them as special guests for a fun day which was coming up soon. Of course Buddy and I would never turn down the opportunity of a fun day so immediately after the interview with Clyde we headed for the iThemba offices at 209 Elston Avenue in Benoni. Fortunately it isn’t too far away from the Lubners store, so after phoning Motjie Neuhoff, the Beares store manager in Brakpan, to let her know I might be a little late in arriving at her store, I arrived at the iThemba offices a little after 10:15am.

As I have said before on this project/campaign, I am blessed with the privilege of meeting so many amazing people and today was no exception. The people of the iThemba Rape & Trauma Support Centre fall smack bang in the centre of this group of individuals who spend every working day, as well as the ‘not supposed to be working days’ helping people who have suffered extreme trauma, and the most amazing thing is that they all have permanent smiles on their faces. Looking at these special people I could not help thinking about the comment I made on my blog the other day in which I said that the police men and women appointed to investigate child rape and child abuse cases have to be a very special type of individual and not just your ‘run of the mill’ type cop. You can get a cop who is brilliant at investigating and solving a case of hi-jacking, robbery, house breaking etc, but when it comes to investigating child rape the policeman/woman has to posses that extra finesse and compassion for children to be able to successfully investigate it and produce a successful conclusion to the case.

I met one of Rose’s colleagues, Michelle and together they explained that the iThemba Rape & Trauma Support Centre are holding a “Ladies Soccer Tournament” on the 5th December 2009 which is to be held at the Benoni Spurs Grounds which is situated behind the Willow Moore Stadium in Benoni. They have arranged a whole host of fun events for the day and it promises to be a really fun day for all. So if you have nothing planned for the 5th of December, or even if you have to cancel your plans, make sure you get to the Benoni Spurs Grounds and give your support to the iThemba Rape & Trauma Support Centre. If you can contribute in anyway to making the day even bigger and better, as in being able to assist with things like jumping castles or any other activities especially for kids, please contact either Rose or Michelle on (011) 422-4017. Your support will be greatly appreciated.

Before leaving the iThemba offices I met yet another very interesting lady by the name of Alda Smit who is a Social Worker in private practice and who has ‘big papers’ in qualifications in child psychology. She has promised to spend some of her very valuable time with me discussing various views on the subject of child rape sometime during the next week while I am visiting the East Rand of Gauteng. So keep a close watch on this space – I am sure it will prove to be very interesting.

Due to my unexpected visit to the iThemba offices, I arrived 15 minutes later than expected at the Beares Brakpan store and was welcomed by a large group pf kids and staff from the “Pinky’s Early Learning Centre” as well as Captain Joep Joubert of the Benoni police. While the kids sang and danced I was given the opportunity to chat to the Captain and the staff of the Pinky’s Centre and to get their views on the subject of child rape.

Captain Joubert confirmed once again the confusion reigning in the police force surrounding the situation of the disbanded?? FCS unit, and agreed that unless a decisive decision is made and relayed to the members of the force very soon, the child rape situation in the country is going to escalate at a mean rate and this will be due to the current investigating techniques, or rather lack of techniques, being used by the police in investigating child rape cases. He confirmed that although the Brakpan police station does not receive very many child rape cases this does not mean that it is not occurring as much as it is everywhere else in the country and unfortunately, like everywhere else in the country, it’s just not being reported. It was agreed that the reasons for the failure to report are:

  • Mothers cannot report fathers, brothers, grandfathers etc, raping the kids for financial and support reasons
  • No faith in the justice system – with the ridiculous conviction rate we are experiencing in South Africa, the people believe that it’s not worth subjecting the child and the family to the trauma associated with the police investigation, with the culprit being awarded bail and threatening and intimidating the child and family and then after being subjected to all of this he gets off scot free.

I was really happy to hear that the teachers are spending a lot more time educating the kids, even at nursery school age, about the possibilities of being subjected to sexual abuse, and when the discussion with Captain Joubert and the teachers ended the kids sang for me and acted out a sketch of a child abuse scene.

The kids of Pinky’s early Learning Centre with the teachers and guests for the day at Beares Brakpan

The kids of Pinky’s early Learning Centre with the teachers and guests for the day at Beares Brakpan

Kids with Buddy

Kids acting out their sketch of a child abuse scene

After being given bags of sweets and other goodies by the Beares staff, the kids insisted on saying good bye to Buddy, and lets face it, if I deprive Buddy of a chance with the kids he will never forgive me and give me grief again. So here they are with Buddy.

Kids with Buddy

Kids with Buddy

Kids acting out their sketch of a child abuse scene

Beares Brakpan staff

Then it was off to the Lubners Brakpan store where, once again, I was met by a large group of kids and their teachers, this time from the ‘Thuto Mfunelo Pre School’. I must say it always gives me a kick when I see the expressions on the faces of the kids whenever they see Buddy, whether it’s driving down the road and kids are in the passing motor cars or whether they are walking on the side of the road and especially when they are invited to the Beares and Lubners stores where they get to actually sit in Buddy.

Lubners Brakpan staff and kids

Lubners Brakpan staff and kids

And when it comes time for ‘Buddy and Me’ to leave we always get a great send off.

Kids with Buddy and Me – and the Lubners store manager Theresa Scholtz

Kids with Buddy and Me – and the Lubners store manager, Theresa Scholtz

And so that brought an end to Buddy and my visit to the Beares and Lubners stores in Brakpan. In the meantime, I had received and invitation from that reprobate/retired hobo friend of mine, Chris Crystal of Happy Wanderers fame. He was the executive chef/Senior Advocate/ …… who owned the restaurant at the Happy Wanderers Caravan Park in Kelso on the KZN South Coast and had moved to Brakpan a few years ago, hello! – why would anyone want to move from a place of paradise on the coast to Brakpan?? But be that as it may, I met up with Chris and his two lovely daughters, Kyra and Melissa at the ‘Lone Star’ restaurant in Brakpan where he stood me to a really delicious curry and of course a few cold frosties, Miller’s MGD of course. Chris is a fundie on law, a Senior Advocate in fact and was the youngest person in South Africa to be appointed to the Bar (if you know Chris like I do you would be thinking the same as me – ya Bar as in local pub – but it was as in the legal Bar, and so he helped straighten out a few aspects of the justice system for me in respect of the requirements, etc needed to be a prosecutor in South Africa. He has also promised to try and set up an appointment for me with a senior prosecutor in Durban when I get there early in January – so Kyra don’t forget to keep the pressure on the ‘old man’ and make sure he makes every effort to secure that appointment for me.

Well that’s all for now, so until tomorrow when ‘Buddy and Me’ get to meet yet some more great people in the form of the Beares and Lubners staff in Boksburg, keep well, keep your feet on the ground but reach real high for the stars, and of course keep all children safe.

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

To assist with Buddy’s medical aid (recouping the R7500.00 spent on repairs to engine and installation of new gearbox and starter motor), please make a deposit into the following account:

  Bank: First National
  Branch: Lambton
  Branch code: 251542
  Acc name: Buddy and Me
  Acc number: 622 327 236 78
  Ref: Buddy’s medical aid

All assistance, no matter how small, is greatly appreciated. Any excess collected above the necessary amount, will be donated to the three organisations involved in the project, namely The Teddy Bear Clinic, Bobbi Bear Foundation and The TygerBear Clinic.


Thu
15
Oct '09

Day 74: Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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To watch Buddy and Me in real time click on the Bandit link on the right hand navigation pane, select South Africa under “Global Fleet Logins:” in the left hand panel, enter 0822549129 and password Buddy.

Today’s blog unfortunately starts with me having to apologise for the delay in getting the blogs for the last few days up and the fact that they are now out of date order. Unfortunately a “bug” got into the system which created a major problem for Gail, who spent most of the day on Monday getting herself into a state trying to get the weekend’s blog posted to the site. Somehow things got messed up with the system and created chaos. So to Gail who spends an enormous amount of her personal time converting my blog from my e-mail form to the blog as well as Rory and Ashleigh Balantyne, owners of Radiant Network who designed and host my website, thank you for your dedication and support to my project. Without you guys this project would not be possible. So now that all the problems have been solved by the people who know how, I can get back with my part of the job. Thus today found me heading out into the Far East, as in East Rand of Gauteng, specifically Benoni.

My visit to the Beares store in Benoni proved to be a quiet one and after a chat with the friendly staff I phoned the police station and on explaining who I am and what my mission is, the good Captain I was put through to who, according to the switchboard handles all child rape cases, immediately agreed to see me and invited me to her office. I arrived at Captain Moshwoeo’s office and found her behind her desk swamped under a pile a dockets. I learnt that she has been involved in investigating child rape and domestic violence cases since 1995, so she has considerable experience in this line of investigation, exactly what this country needs.

Obviously my first question to her was “Captain, does the FCS unit actually exist”. With a smile and shake of her head she answered with an emphatic “No” and went on to explain that the FCS unit was originally formed to replace the CPU (Child Protection Unit) because the ‘powers that be’ decided that the unit had to be expanded from a unit which focused purely on the investigation of the physical and sexual abuse of children to a unit which investigates all forms of both child and adult abuse, as in domestic violence.

She went on to confirm that this unit however was ‘disbanded’ in 2006/7. While talking to her I noticed that there were many documents lying on her desk all with the heading “FCS unit” and a lot referring to the “FCS member”. When I said that this unit has caused me much confusion because some officers have actually confirmed that they are employed by the FCS unit and others have categorically denied that the unit exists, she laughed and said “If you are confused you must know what confusion it is causing us in the police force”. Evidently the whole ‘cluster’ system implemented in certain areas has created a state of major confusion and it is evidently decided by each Station Commissioner whether this cluster system is implemented or not or to what extent it actually functions. The Benoni Station Commissioner fortunately supports the notion of having specialised investigation units as in, one unit investigating car theft, one investigating robbery and one specialising in child rape and domestic violence etc. He is obviously a man of vision as is Captain Moshwoeo.

According to the good Captain, they do not experience a high volume of child rape cases in the Benoni area, although she did confirm that these cases are seldom reported due to the fact that the majority of these cases are perpetrated by family members. She did, however, confirm that they are experiencing a reasonably high conviction rate and although she could not confirm exactly what percentage this equated to, she showed me a report which indicated that some really good sentences such as life, and 15- 20 years are being passed down by the courts. But once again, as it has been said before, the problem here is that although the courts are doing their job and sentencing the rapists to some good lengthy sentences, the parole board ultimately decides how long the culprit will spend in prison. After thanking Captain Moshwoeo for her time I headed back to the Beares store to say good bye to the staff before heading for the Lubners store a few streets up.

Benoni Beares staff

Benoni Beares staff

At the Benoni Lubners store, the store manager, Elize Van Zyl phoned a reporter from the local newspaper who unfortunately could not meet with me but after checking out my website called back and asked if I could return tomorrow on my way to Brakpan for an interview. After a chat with the staff, we were walking out of the store on my way to Buddy when a lady who happened to be walking past the Lubners store stopped and asked “who’s the owner or driver of this little vehicle”. When I confirmed that I was she introduced herself as Rose Maja and told me that she is involved with the ‘iThemba Rape &Trauma Support Centre’ and that she hosts an SABC TV show as well as a radio show and would like to invite me onto her shows as a guest. She explained that the ‘iThemba Rape &Trauma Support Centre’ is a non profit organisation which offers comprehensive care to survivors and their families in the event of a traumatic event such as rape and domestic violence. The care provided includes counselling, the treatment of emotional trauma, prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases and includes the meticulous gathering of forensic evidence required for trial. Rose was obviously in a hurry and so unfortunately was pressed for time, but I appreciated the fact that she had taken the time to stop and talk to me and I look forward to hearing from her soon and being given the opportunity to discuss the child rape situation in the country in more detail.

The ‘iThemba Rape & Trauma Centre’ contact details are:

Address – 209 Elsston Avenue, Western extension Benoni
Telephone – +27 (011) 422-4107
E-mail – info@traumasupport.org.za
Website – www.traumasupport.org.za

Benoni Lubners staff

Benoni Lubners staff

Then it was back to Alberton North for me and Buddy, where those two Beetle genius surgeons at GP Beetles, Giel and Gideon fitted Buddy with a new carburettor. Well actually Gideon fitted it and then Giel did the final settings and tunings to make Buddy purr like he has never done in his life. When I initially drove away from the GP Beetles workshop I was a bit disappointed, because when I approached the first set of traffic lights it sounded as if Buddy had cut out and all I could hear was the noises from the shakes and rattles but when I put the clutch in and let it go in order to start the engine with a running start I discovered that the engine was in fact still running. WOW! I couldn’t believe it, absolutely amazing! So to Giel and Gideon at GP Beetles thanks guys you did an amazing job.

Oh yes and while I’m on the subject of GP Beetles, I received an e-mail from a guy in Alberton by the name of Brendan McGrath from ‘Manatee’ who have photographic studios and are involved in a number of other functions associated with photography and websites, who read my blog and wrote to me asking if I could recommend GP Beetles to work on a Beetle that he has. So in response to your e-mail Brendan, yes I definitely can recommend GP Beetles to work on your Beetle.

So that’s all for now, so until tomorrow when ‘Buddy and Me’ journey once again into the ‘Far East’ – Brakpan – we bid you farewell for now, so keep well and keep all children safe.

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

To assist with Buddy’s medical aid (recouping the R9570.00 spent on repairs to engine and installation of new gearbox, starter motor and front suspension), please make a deposit into the following account:

  Bank: First National
  Branch: Lambton
  Branch code: 251542
  Acc name: Buddy and Me
  Acc number: 622 327 236 78
  Ref: Buddy’s medical aid

All assistance, no matter how small, is greatly appreciated. Any excess collected above the necessary amount, will be donated to the three organisations involved in the project, namely The Teddy Bear Clinic, Bobbi Bear Foundation and The TygerBear Clinic.


Tue
13
Oct '09

Day 73: Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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To watch Buddy and Me in real time click on the Bandit link on the right hand navigation pane, select South Africa under “Global Fleet Logins:” in the left hand panel, enter 0822549129 and password Buddy.

So today was an off day, as in I had no Beares or Lubners stores to visit, so the day was spent changing Buddy’s oil; I am continuously told by the ‘experts’ that I should do this on a regular basis as this is what can mess up an engine, especially an old one like Buddy’s. I also had another look at the trailer rot and decided that there is nothing I or anyone else can do at this stage without removing the box, welding on a new floor and mounting it on a new chassis, and there’s no chance of that, so continue as we are it shall be.

I caught up on some newspaper news and read some interesting articles. One article especially caught my eye and that was a comment made by our esteemed ‘Commissioner’ of police who claims, and he did it with a lot of aplomb on TV as well, that very soon he will be referred to as General – Cele, perhaps if he was as enthusiastic about solving our crime situation and focussing on establishing a specialised unit to combat child rape as he is about becoming a ‘General’, South Africa might be a safer and better place to live in. The article went on to say that the reason for changing his title/rank to that of General is to “change the police from a ‘service’ to a ‘force’ (hell I thought that’s what it was before). The new title/rank will only take effect once changes have been made to the legislation to change the police from a ‘service’ to that of a ‘force’. Hello here we go again, they changed the name from South African Police Force to the South African Police Service, now they are changing it back again; this kind of sounds familiar with a few other “changes” that have been effected and then the country is told that it’s going to change back again. Considering how much time is spent, not to mention money, effecting these changes only to discover that a boo-boo was made and “okay, lets change back again”, I’m sure all our other problems could have been solved by now.

The other interesting bit of news was that 39 946 new rape cases were registered with the courts in all 9 provinces between 1st July 2008 and the end of June 2009. This averages out at a staggering 109.44 new cases which were reported to the police and actually got to court, per day. According to the report given to parliament, the majority of the rapes were perpetrated by males aged between 21 and 30 years of age.

The letters to the editor in The Citizen never cease to entertain me and there were a couple that raised some good points. One referred to Mr. Zuma’s statement regarding his statement about there being too many guns in South Africa and said that “did Mr. Zuma know that the Okapi knife which is available from every corner café and spaza shop has killed more people in South Africa than guns have”. The other comment was the fact that the words contained in his song which he sings at rallies and other gatherings, refers to “his machine gun”, interesting?

As far as I am concerned, if the government wants to have all firearms removed, then it means that they are accepting responsibility for the safety of the people living in the country. If they are confident that they have the ability to protect the citizens of the country then fine – if they can’t and something happens to me or a member of my family because of crime, they will be held accountable. I was once approached by a lady on the street who asked me to sign a petition to have all firearms banned. I told her that I will be the first person to sign the petition when the laws and punishments are changed to accommodate the following:

  • Any person found in possession of a firearm is sentenced to 45 years in prison with no parole
  • Any person who fires a weapon at another person, irrespective of whether that person dies as a consequence of the shooting, must receive the death penalty
  • Any person who commits an offence with the use of a firearm must receive the death penalty
  • Any person who commits an offence with the use of any sort of weapon, be it a knife, knob kierie or whatever, shall be sent to prison for a minimum of 45 years with no parole

When the law is changed to accommodate these punishments, then I will fully support a ban on all firearms. Until then I’m afraid I can’t.
Well that’s about all for now, so tomorrow Buddy and Me will be back on the road again visiting the good folk of Beares and Lubners in Benoni, so until then keep well, keep all children safe.

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

To assist with Buddy’s medical aid (recouping the R7500.00 spent on repairs to engine and installation of new gearbox and starter motor), please make a deposit into the following account:

  Bank: First National
  Branch: Lambton
  Branch code: 251542
  Acc name: Buddy and Me
  Acc number: 622 327 236 78
  Ref: Buddy’s medical aid

All assistance, no matter how small, is greatly appreciated. Any excess collected above the necessary amount, will be donated to the three organisations involved in the project, namely The Teddy Bear Clinic, Bobbi Bear Foundation and The TygerBear Clinic.


Tue
13
Oct '09

Day 70 and 71: Saturday and Sunday, 10-11 October 2009

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

Leave a comment


To watch Buddy and Me in real time click on the Bandit link on the right hand navigation pane, select South Africa under “Global Fleet Logins:” in the left hand panel, enter 0822549129 and password Buddy.

Unfortunately the weekend started with some very sad news which I received on Friday night. My uncle Doy (Arthur) Heath sadly passed away at the age of 78 on Friday morning. Doy, as I have known him all my life, has lived at the Banners Rest retirement village in Port Edward with my aunt Esaleen for many years, (Esaleen I apologise if I have spelt your name wrongly but I have never known how to spell it). Doy, or Arthur as he was better known to his friends in the Port Edward area, was well known in the Port Edward area as a man of high integrity. My condolences and thoughts are with Esaleen and their two sons Greg and Michael as well as the rest of their family and our whole family. Doy I know, will be sadly missed.

The weekend was spent as usual working, but this time it wasn’t on Buddy, but the trailer. Over the past few weeks I have noticed that when towing the trailer the front of the box appears to be bouncing a lot. On closer examination I discovered that the ‘A’ frame in the front of the trailer has rusted badly and that the frame on which the trailer box is mounted has rusted through. This has caused the front section of the trailer to separate from the actual frame on which it is mounted.

A friend, Darren Lee, kindly offered to weld it for me but discovered that the frame has rusted very badly and could not be welded properly. He did,, however manage to weld on some support and believes that it should hold for the remaining part of the project. So all that was left for me to do is paint the welding and front section of the trailer with red oxide primer paint and then paint it the same colour as the rest of the trailer. So Buddy and the trailer are looking good!

Trailer damage…

As far as Buddy goes, he is actually going very well after his very expensive surgery, but I have noticed that he is idling very high especially when hot and when I spoke to those two brilliant surgeon, Giel and son Gideon at GP Beetles about it, Giel explained that the carburettor is very old and worn and that the butterflies, whatever they are, are badly worn and the carburettor is sucking too much air. The only way to solve this is to fit a new carburettor. He was going to suggest it to me when they did the gearbox and engine repair but felt that suggesting I spend more money on a carburettor could send me over the edge. The last costs associated with Buddy’s surgery, gearbox, engine, starter motor and front suspension cost me a staggering R10 000 -00 and so he wasn’t wrong. But if I am going to complete this project/crusade against child rape, Buddy has got to be in fine running condition, so after a search for a new carburettor or rather a good second one, I eventually located one and so hopefully Giel will have it serviced/reconditioned and fitted this coming week. So please guy’s Buddy’s medical aid desperately needs your help!!

So advocate ‘Barbie’ has been found guilty. Now we wait in anticipation to hear what her sentence is going to be as per the Judge, and then of course see what the prison authorities/parole board will decide on how long she will actually stay in prison.

The other interesting bit of news which appeared in Friday’s ‘Citizen’ made me think of the comments I made in my blog dated 23rd September regarding the police commissioner’s instruction to “shoot to kill” and the fact that I believe that the majority of the police are not qualified to carry firearms, let alone be given an instruction to “shoot to kill’. The article confirms that only 25% of the police actually attended shooting practice this year and that the police are hopelessly out of practice.

Comments have frequently been made to me by people who claim that mothers are responsible for the rape and sexual abuse of small children and babies because “they leave them with friends and family when they go to work and that they should be placed in the care of crèches and nursery schools”. Well I believe this to be nonsense because there are many cases where the parents cannot afford a crèche or day care centre and if you can’t trust your family, as in grandfathers etc, who can you trust? Secondly, unfortunately the rape and sexual abuse of children is also occurring in the crèches as well as day care centres and nursery schools and this point was proved in yet another article in which it was stated that a 52 year-old businesswoman who is the head of a Roodepoort nursery school has been charged with the sexual abuse of a 4 year-old little girl. So someone please tell me what the parents of small kids are supposed to do with their kids when they have to go to work?

On the lighter side of life, I was told that the Afrikaans community of Pretoria has now accepted the change of name of Pretoria to Tswane. The reason for this is they have discovered that the name arises from an old ‘Boer’ General, General Tswane-poel, so all is okay now and everyone is happy with the name change.

Okay, so that’s all for the weekend, so Monday – tomorrow, will find me visiting the Lubners stores in firstly Primrose (Germiston) and then in Elsburg. So until tomorrow, keep your feet on the ground but reach for the stars.

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

To assist with Buddy’s medical aid (recouping the R7500.00 spent on repairs to engine and installation of new gearbox and starter motor), please make a deposit into the following account:

  Bank: First National
  Branch: Lambton
  Branch code: 251542
  Acc name: Buddy and Me
  Acc number: 622 327 236 78
  Ref: Buddy’s medical aid

All assistance, no matter how small, is greatly appreciated. Any excess collected above the necessary amount, will be donated to the three organisations involved in the project, namely The Teddy Bear Clinic, Bobbi Bear Foundation and The TygerBear Clinic.


Tue
13
Oct '09

Day 72: Monday, 12 October 2009

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

Leave a comment


To watch Buddy and Me in real time click on the Bandit link on the right hand navigation pane, select South Africa under “Global Fleet Logins:” in the left hand panel, enter 0822549129 and password Buddy.

So today it was a visit to the Lubners store situated in my old stomping grounds of Primrose, Germiston. After having resigned from the police back in 1980, my wife and kids and I moved to Primrose where we lived, until moving to Pinetown in 1987. I can tell you that since moving out of the area in 1987 not much has changed in the town. I spent some quality time with the staff of the Lubners store and got to chat to a really interesting lady from the Primrose police. Actually when she walked into the Lubners store I thought she was there to model the new police uniform because she is stunning and believe me I have never seen a police uniform look that good on anyone! When I told her I had been in the force for nine years and had left in 1980 she said “Oh that’s the year I was born in”, right grandpa!

Anyway, she helped me sort out a couple of problems I had been pondering over for the last couple of weeks. The main one being, does the FCS unit actually exist? During the past two and a half months I have met many policemen and woman who claim to work in the FCS unit, this being the old CPU (Child Protection Unit) and they have gone to great lengths to explain how the unit functions with regard to cluster stations, etc. I have also met many policemen and woman, many in senior positions, who claim that soon after the FCS unit was formed it was disbanded. Even the reporter from the Germiston City news told me that according to the information she has been given, the FCS unit does not exist.

My guest from the Primrose police also confirmed that the FCS unit does not exist and confirmed that there are no specialised investigating officers appointed to specifically investigate cases of child rape and that these cases are being investigated by the normal criminal investigating teams/detectives. I have also been told by numerous police officers that unfortunately the police force consists of about 60% of policemen and woman who are not dedicated to being police officers but are in the job “because it’s a job” and that this is part of the problem which has created our devastatingly high crime situation in the country. Whenever I hear this I can’t help but think of the many campaign statements that are made by political parties at election time when they say “we need more police offices on the ground” and “pay the police force better salaries”, and wonder if they have ever heard of the phrase “quality is better than quantity”.

So according to my information there is currently no FCS unit in operation and therefore there are no specialised investigation units available in the country to investigate child rape cases which everyone knows requires a highly specialised technique to investigate; and then we wonder why we have such a ridiculously low conviction rate?

One of the things that I always enjoy whenever I visit the Beares and Lubners stores, is the fact that they have a giant bear dancing and greeting people while handing out flyers containing information about the project on the sidewalk outside the store and I have to tell you that ‘Moses’ the Lubners bear in Primrose has definitely got my vote for being the most energetic and best dancer of all the bears to date.

The Bear that I have awarded the best Bear so far – Moses at Primrose Lubners

The Bear that I have awarded the best Bear so far – Moses at Primrose Lubners

Lubners staff Primrose

Lubners staff Primrose

Then it was off to visit the really friendly staff of the Lubners store in Elsburg, which is also in the Germiston area. Here I discovered that three staff members in particular, Sonja, Mariska and Gerda had done a sterling job in inviting a large number of the local community to come to the store and join in a group discussion on the subject of child rape. One lady in particular, the ex Chairperson of the Elsburg Community Policing Forum, Mrs Doreen Harding, was adamant that the ridiculously high rate of child rape in the country lies squarely in the lap of the government and especially the police whose, according to her, service in their town of Elsburg in particular, has deteriorated to a totally unacceptable level over the past year or so. She went into great depths explaining how virtually every evening she spends her time driving around the area picking up young kids, mostly aged between 13 and 15 years of age, all in intoxicated states and on delivering them home find that the parents are either also intoxicated or asleep, usually both, and have no clue as to where their kids were.

The group was unanimous in their agreement that one of the main reasons for the high rate of child rape is that “the culprits are getting away with it”. This, of course, is reflected by the totally unacceptably low conviction rate which according to the courts is attributed to the bad investigation of the case by the police, which in turn goes back to the problem of not having a specialised investigation unit with dedicated officers.

The other unanimous agreement was the fact that our prison system has become a ‘joke’ and this is evident in the fact that criminals are being convicted for the fourth and fifth time and just don’t seem to be scared of, or have respect for, our prison system. They all agreed that the punishment for child rape – that’s the raping of children under the age of 12 years of age – should be the death penalty and if the government is adamant that they will not re-instate the death penalty for child rape at least, then the sentence on conviction should be the minimum of 45 years in jail without the possibility of parole. They all supported my notion that a national referendum should be held to establish whether or not the majority of the country supports this motion; my research clearly shows that by far the majority of the country would support either the death penalty or 45 years in jail without the possibility of parole – hell after all we live in a democracy, don’t we, and so the majority rules, or so we are told by the government on a regular basis.

Discussion group at Lubners Elsburg

Our discussion took almost two hours and I was really impressed with the dedication and interest the group showed towards the subject of child rape and was grateful for their input. So to all those magic people of Elsburg who took off time in their busy schedules to come and meet me and discuss the sad topic of child rape, thank you for your input and comments which are greatly appreciated.

To the really friendly and magic staff of Elsburg Lubners store, thank you for arranging such a great visit for me, I truly enjoyed my chat with the good people of Elsburg, and stay as good as you are.

Elsburg Lubners staff

Elsburg Lubners staff

So tomorrow I have the day off and so I will probably spend the day cleaning Buddy and hopefully take Buddy in to GP Beetles to have Giel and Gideon fit the new carburettor. So until tomorrow, keep well, keep all children safe.

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

To assist with Buddy’s medical aid (recouping the R7500.00 spent on repairs to engine and installation of new gearbox and starter motor), please make a deposit into the following account:

  Bank: First National
  Branch: Lambton
  Branch code: 251542
  Acc name: Buddy and Me
  Acc number: 622 327 236 78
  Ref: Buddy’s medical aid

All assistance, no matter how small, is greatly appreciated. Any excess collected above the necessary amount, will be donated to the three organisations involved in the project, namely The Teddy Bear Clinic, Bobbi Bear Foundation and The TygerBear Clinic.


Sun
11
Oct '09

Day 69: Friday, 9 October 2009

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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To watch Buddy and Me in real time click on the Bandit link on the right hand navigation pane, select South Africa under “Global Fleet Logins:” in the left hand panel, enter 0822549129 and password Buddy.

Today, Friday the 9th October 2009 was spent at the Beares store in my ‘home’ town of Germiston at the Goldenwalk Shopping Centre. Obviously because I live in Germiston I had met the manager of the store Johan Jonck and Customer Credit Manager Zurika Steenkamp a few times already. They had arranged for a group of kids and staff from the Novensi Organisation, a home for abused children in Vosloorus to come to the store and spend sometime with us. The project Manager of the Organisation/Home, Valencia Kheswa gave us some information about the home, which in a nutshell, provides shelter and care for abused and HIV infected children in the Vosloorus area. They are hosting a Christmas Day for 600 abused and HIV infected children on the 21st December and desperately need financial or any other assistance that can be provided for this special day for the kids. If you are in a position to assist you can contact Valencia on: (011) 906 7103 or 073 222 3013.

The kids and staff from the Novensi Home for abused children

The kids and staff from the Novensi Home for abused children

Kids and staff of the Home with Buddy

Kids and staff of the Home with Buddy

The ever smiling staff of Beares Goldenwalk Germiston

The ever smiling staff of Beares Goldenwalk, Germiston

Over the past 48 hours or so, due to various bits of information that have been given to me regarding the police FCS unit; whether it actually exists or not, and the information given to me by the young lady in Alexandra concerning the fact that “the word on the street is that child rapists must use condoms if they don’t want to get convicted” (See my blog 8th October Day 68) have caused me great concern and I have been racking my brain over these two topics in particular.

Regarding the first one, I have been told that there is a lady (Officer) based in the police headquarters in Pretoria who is the head of the FCS unit (Formerly CPU – Child protection Unit); this unit that some say has been disbanded and some claim to be part of. So far I have been unable to identify exactly who she is and where she can be contacted, so if anyone knows who this ‘phantom’ lady is, please let me know, because I would dearly like to meet and talk to her. Secondly the matter regarding the condom story. I believe that this could be more damning than the outrageous allegations by the Sangoma’s that having sex with a virgin – child – will cure your HIV/Aids or for that matter Mr. Zuma, our esteemed President, who claimed that by having a shower after “having had sex” with an aids infected woman prevented him from contracting the HIV/Aids virus!!

Well the weekend is here now and so I will be pondering these issues and look forward to receiving your comments on the subject. So please write to me via my e-mail address and give me your opinion on the subject. So until later, keep well.

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

To assist with Buddy’s medical aid (recouping the R7500.00
spent on repairs to engine and installation of new gearbox and starter
motor), please make a deposit into the following account:

Bank: First National
Branch: Lambton
Branch code: 251542
Acc name: Buddy and Me
Acc number: 622 327 236 78
Ref: Buddy’s medical aid

All assistance, no matter how small, is greatly appreciated. Any excess collected above the necessary amount, will be donated to the three organisations involved in the project, namely The Teddy Bear Clinic, Bobbi Bear Foundation and The TygerBear Clinic.


Fri
9
Oct '09

Day 68: Thursday, 8 October 2009

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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To watch Buddy and Me in real time click on the Bandit link on the right hand navigation pane, enter 0822549129 and password Buddy.

Today turned out to be a relatively quiet day which was quite okay with me because it was a real scorcher of a day. At one time the thermometer / ’electronic’ (actually battery operated) temperature gauge in Buddy, which by the way is probably the most sophisticated piece of equipment in him, reflected a temperature of 34.6 degrees C and this was at 11:45am while at the Alexandra Township Beares store.

I must say, although my visit to the store was a relatively quiet one, I had a really nice time chatting to the staff who were all very eager to hear about the project, especially due to the fact that none of them had been around in Beares (most of them have moved over from Lubners) when I had undertaken the first project. I had a particularly nice chat with the store manager, Oupa Dube, who proved to be one really interesting and generally all round nice guy.

Beares Alexandra staff - Oupa’s the guy full of smiles on the left. Actually, looking at the picture he looks a bit like JZ

Beares Alexandra staff - Oupa’s the guy full of smiles on the left. Actually, looking at the picture he looks a bit like JZ

On my way out, I stopped at an intersection and a group of people standing on the corner outside a small shack/spaza shop waved and called to me to join them. I decided that because I had actually wanted to chat to the community of Alexandra that I might as well pull over. I spent about half an hour chatting to the group, who it turned out is pretty fed up with the child rape situation in the township and the fact that the authorities just plain don’t seem to be perturbed about the situation. Their comments made me think of the comment made by my police guest at Midrand yesterday who said that the community believe that the “justice system has failed them”.

A day in Alexandra Township. It was at this intersection that I was summonsed to the conference with a group of the local community at the stall on the left

A day in Alexandra Township. It was at this intersection that I was summonsed to the conference with a group of the local community at the stall on the left

One bit of particularly interesting information which was provided at this discussion came from a young lady whose 4 year-old niece was recently raped, and she said that according to what she had heard, the rapists – and she was referring to child rapists – are using condoms more now because according to the word on the street, child rapists are only being convicted when there is hard and fast evidence produced in court and this is only in the form of DNA / semen samples. The word on the street is that because the child cannot, or is not capable of, giving evidence in court, the rapists have a very good chance of getting off if no semen is available for evidence. So this goes back to the statement I made a few days ago (30th September Day 60) when I commented on the fact that criminals, and this includes child rapists, definitely think the crime through very thoroughly before perpetrating it.

So that’s all I have to say today, so until tomorrow when I visit the Beares store in Goldenwalk, Germiston, keep well, keep all children safe.

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

To assist with Buddy’s medical aid (recouping the R7500.00
spent on repairs to engine and installation of new gearbox and starter
motor), please make a deposit into the following account:

Bank:                 First National
Branch:              Lambton
Branch code:      251542
Acc name:          Buddy and Me
Acc number:       622 327 236 78
Ref:                   Buddy’s medical aid

All assistance, no matter how small, is greatly appreciated. Any excess collected above the necessary amount, will be donated to the three organisations involved in the project, namely The Teddy Bear Clinic, Bobbi Bear Foundation and The TygerBear Clinic.


Thu
8
Oct '09

Day 67: Wednesday 7 October 2009

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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To watch Buddy and Me in real time click on the Bandit link, enter 0822549129 and password Buddy.

So today started off with a trip out to the Midrand Beares store and for those who have not visited this area for sometime, as in a few years, you will not believe the growth that the area has experienced, absolutely incredible! The store manager, Lily Luiz arranged for a Captain to be there from the local ‘FCS’ ‘CPU’ division or whatever they are called, of the South African Police; it seems that no one really knows what they are called at this stage, but she provided me with some interesting information on the unit as well as some interesting comments and opinions.

This police officer, who asked that I don’t mention her name, has been involved with the specialised investigation of child rape cases since 1991 that gives her 18 years experience, nothing to be sneezed at. She explained that the ‘CPU’ division (Child Protection Unit) was officially closed in 2006, and that the ‘FCS’ (Family Violence, Child Protection & Sexual Offences) unit was formed in its place but was also disbanded two years ago, soon after it’s formation, but is still “sort of operating but not officially”. I hope you can make sense of that. I have been told by many police officers that this unit is in chaos at the moment and that no one really knows quite what’s going on with it.

The main difference it seems between the two units is that the ‘CPU’ unit focused entirely on the rape, sexual abuse and physical abuse of children, whereas the ‘FCS’ focuses on all aspects of sexual offences and domestic violence, this includes adults as well as children. As far as I am concerned, as well as many people I have discussed the matter with, this is the main cause of the ridiculously low conviction rate our country is suffering with at the moment. My guest confirmed that child rape requires a very highly specialised investigation technique and this was also confirmed by Sheri Errington, The Teddy Bear Clinic lady I interviewed yesterday. In fact my guest confirmed that without the help and support of The Teddy Bear Clinic their meagre conviction rate, which she confirmed is around the 5-6% rate, would plummet even further.

My guest also confirmed that the number of cases of child rape being reported to the police is “a mere drop in the ocean of the number that’s actually taking place”. According to her, the feedback she has been receiving from the public, is that the public feel the justice department (and that includes the police, court system and especially our prison – Recreational Services – sorry that should read Correctional Services although I think it should be called the “Recreational Services”) has failed them and the public has lost faith in their ability to stop crime and child rape in particular.

She believes that the investigating officers appointed to investigate ‘child rape’ should be totally dedicated to the cause and should be a breed of policeman/woman apart from the rest. Unfortunately she believes that this is not the case and that by far the majority of the investigating officers assigned to child rape cases treat the case as “just another crime to be investigated”. According to my guest, she believes that only 20-25% of the child rape cases are being investigated by competent investigating offices. I must say that this is not the first time I have been given this information by police officers and it has occurred many times.

She went on to relate a couple of really bad cases she has been involved with recently and some of these included the following stories:

A 6 year-old little girl was sexually assaulted by her father. On conviction he was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment. After 6 years he was released on parole, at the time of his release she was 12 years old. One year after being released he raped her again! The case is on going.

In a current case in Midrand, a 17 year-old girl gave birth to a baby girl. The father of the baby is also the young mother’s father; she was 16 at the time of the rape. After being arrested he was released on bail and has since skipped and has not been located by the police.

My guest believes that when a child is removed from his or her home and placed in a ‘place of safety’, the child suffers incredible psychological damage. Invariably the father is released on bail and continues with his life as ‘normal’. The child on the other hand believes that he or she was the cause of the split in the family and so blames him/her-self; as if the child hasn’t suffered enough?

I was then introduced to one of Beares esteemed clients, Mr Matthews who I discovered was the Deputy Minister for Safety and Security from 1994 to 2004. His daughter I am told, was sworn in yesterday as acting President of South Africa in Mr. Zuma’s absence while over seas, I thought our ex Acting-President, Kgalema Motlanthe was our vice President? So shouldn’t he stand in as President in Mr. Zuma’s absence, or is he away touring overseas at the same time? I would have dearly loved to have been given the opportunity to discuss the current child rape situation with Mr Matthews, but unfortunately as he is a client of Beares and was there on business I could not intervene with the process of business.

Beares Midrand staff – Mr Matthews seated on left

Beares Midrand staff – Mr Matthews seated on left

From Midrand I headed back to Kempton Park where I visited the Festival Mall Beares store. Here I was met by that crazy lady I had encountered when she was manager of the Springs Beares store on my last project, Shirley Pulisa. Shirley had arranged for a whole bunch of kids from a local crèche to welcome me to the store and they were all standing outside the store dancing to music with the two giant teddy bears when I arrived.

Kids around Buddy and receiving their gift bags – Shirley standing behind Obed on the left

Kids around Buddy

Beares Kempton Park Festival Mall staff

Kids receiving their gift bags – Shirley standing behind Obed on the left

Beares Kempton Park Festival Mall staff

Beares Kempton Park Festival Mall staff

After a great time with the kids I headed into the heart of Kempton Park to the Beares Kempton Park – West Street – store. Now I need to tell you, for those who have not visited Kempton Park in a while, should you visit this town again you will be very disappointed. The town has slumped into what I have described other towns as being dumps. Unfortunately this once lovely, clean, bustling place is now totally over-crowded and the streets are filthy. I have decided to present Kempton Park with my first prize for being the most confusing town to drive in. Almost every street is a one-way and in some cases the one-way direction changes direction halfway through the street, such as in the case of West Street. I spent over half an hour trying to reach the Beares store even though I had a basic idea where it was situated. I had a chat with the friendly West street store staff and I got to meet the Regional Manager for the East Rand area, Les Moodly.

Beares West Street staff, Les Moodly on extreme right of pic

Beares West Street staff, Les Moodly on extreme right of pic

After bidding everyone farewell I headed down the street to the Lubners West Street store where I was met by a large really friendly group who were attracted to the store by the booming voice of DJ Lucky who was, with the use of a microphone, telling the entire community of Kempton Park that “Steve Heath and Buddy have arrived in Kempton Park, come and meet them and give us your opinion on what needs to be done to stop child rape”. A real character of note!

Group outside the Beares store

Group outside the Beares store

DJ Lucky doing his thing

DJ Lucky doing his thing

After a really great time with many people being enticed to come to the mike to give their opinions on what should be done to stop child rape- of course the majority shouted “DEATH TO ALL CHILD RAPISTS” – I bid a farewell to all and headed out of Kempton Park at 3:40 in the afternoon in a hope to miss the chaotic peak hour traffic back to Germiston.

Lubners Kempton Park – West Street store staff – The store manager Maryna Venter with the great big smile next to the giant bear

Lubners Kempton Park – West Street store staff – The store manager Maryna Venter with the great big smile next to the giant bear

I was told to report to the Gem Bar in Lambton Germiston for an official ‘Derelicts MCC’ gathering (this being because I was appointed as an ‘Honorary Member’ a few weeks back – Buddy having often being referred to as “what kind of motor bike is this”). The reason for the ‘gathering’ was because Gaston, of Gem Bar fame, had purchased a Kawasaki motor bike and was being inducted as a ‘Derelicts MCC‘ member, and believe me this is an induction that you would not like to endure, I think he will be suffering for a few days to come. I have been warned by the members that I still have to under go the official induction after being appointed ‘Honorary Member’, I think it’s time I completed my East Rand visits and headed out into the far yonder areas chop-chop!

Gaston being awarded his ‘colours by Derelicts President Ryan Robins alongside Gaston’s new bike

Gaston being awarded his ‘colours by Derelicts President Ryan Robins alongside Gaston’s new bike

And so that brought an end to yet another day in the lives of ‘Buddy and Me – Searching for a Solution to the Rape and Sexual Abuse of Children’. But before we sign off I would just like to remind everyone that due to the massive cost of R7 500-00 Buddy’s recent surgery / repair attracted, his medical aid/our budget has been hammered quite severely and we desperately need to recoup this amount. So if there is anyone out there who can assist with a sponsorship it will be greatly appreciate.

Buddy’s medical aid details are as follows:

Bank:               First National
Brach:              Lambton
Branch code:    251542
Acc name:        Buddy and Me
Acc number:     622 327 236 78
Ref:                 Buddy’s medical aid

Any assistance you can give will be truly appreciated.

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


Wed
7
Oct '09

Day 66: Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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Wow what can I say? Today was a really great day for me. It started with a drive out to the Southgate Shopping Centre, a really magnificent place. Reggie Sibiya had arranged for me to meet a few really interesting people and these included, Martha Lakaje and Samuel Langa of the ‘Orlando Children’s Home’ in Soweto.

Chatting with Martha and Samuel

Chatting with Martha and Samuel

The Orlando Children’s Home is a non profit organisation that was established in 1940 and initially started by the Johannesburg Child Welfare. In 1977 it was taken over by the Soweto community and provides shelter mainly for children who have been abandoned by their parents, children who have been neglected and abused in all different forms and was designed to cater for children, from birth to 12 years of age. At present their youngest child is 4 months old and the oldest is 21 years of age. The Home is registered to house 60 children and the crèche has 82 children.

Usually the babies are sent to them by the hospitals when, after giving birth, the mother leaves the hospital and does not return for the baby and it is discovered that on admission the mother has provided the hospital with false information. The other situations in which babies and children are sent to them includes those where a mother/parent admits a child to a hospital because it is sick and after admitting it using false information does not return to fetch the baby/child. The really annoying part of this is the fact that the parent will continue to claim and be paid the child grant being paid by the government. And of course there is the situation that happens frequently where a mother gives birth and abandons the baby in the bush or garbage can, etc. Martha explained that, in most cases where the child is old enough to know or realise that it has been abandoned by its parents, it becomes extremely angry and tends to lose its identity.

We were joined by 5 members of the Mondeor Police and after a lengthy chat (two and a half hours) Inspector Makuwa asked if I would be a speaker at the Soweto Police Community Forum on Sunday night and of course I agreed. So I look forward to meeting the Soweto community and getting their opinions on the subject of combating child rape.

Our discussion obviously included their opinions on what they believe should be done to stop child rape and all agreed, as has happened in all the discussions I have had with people so far on the project, that the government has to get serious about punishing the rapists and to stop treating them with kid gloves. They agreed unanimously that the parole boards are a large part of the problem and that the convicted child rapists should be forced to serve out the entire sentence passed down by the magistrate/judge and not be released early, no matter what the reason.

Unfortunately there is no website or e-mail contact address for the home, but should anyone wish to contact them, their details are telephone number (011) 935 1209 or fax (011) 935 1144.

The whole discussion group

The whole discussion group

During the entire discussion, Reggie, the Beares store manager sat with us and was very involved in the discussion and I think what he wrote in my Beares manager’s book says it all:

Thank you Steve. Being a father myself with a daughter of 1½ years I’m terrified of the thought of “what if it happens to her”. But let me tell you something, having you here opened my eyes up! We need to teach them the correct things, even if the kids need to respect their elders, they must be taught – there are personal places on their bodies, and no one, not even if he is an uncle or grandfather, must touch them there!

Carry on doing the good job, I’m proud to be part of this company that’s involved with such a good imitative. Thumbs up for the future.

Reggie Sibiya
Manager
Beares Southgate

When my discussion with Martha and Samuel was concluded, one of the Beares’ young ladies, Nonhlanyla Khoza approached Martha and offered her services as a volunteer ‘Care Giver’ with the home. The one aspect of doing this project/campaign that I enjoy the most is the fact that I am blessed with the privilege of meeting so many amazing people and today was certainly no exception.

Beares Southgate staff

Beares Southgate staff

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After bidding all the friendly staff of Beares Southgate farewell, I headed back onto the highway in the direction of Johannesburg/Parktown where I had an appointment with Sheri Ellington, the Research and Development Manager of The Teddy Bear Clinic who filled me in on what The Teddy Bear Clinic is involved with, and believe me it’s a lot!

The Teddy Bear Clinic has established a ‘Care Centre” at the Johannesburg, Krugersdorp and Soweto Courts where victims are prepared and taught about court procedures. This aspect of their service is based solely on the court procedure and the actual details of the case are never discussed and do not form part of this preparation procedure. They also have a ‘Care Centre’ at the Johannesburg hospital where victims are provided with the support of a forensic nurse, in-take worker and volunteer doctor for examination purposes. If a charge is laid with the police The Teddy Bear Clinic arranges for the necessary forensic assessment to be done. They also provide therapy for both the child as well as the parent.

They are also involved in awareness campaigns with the schools where they provide the kids with details of who to contact should they be exposed to any form of abuse, and warn them against human trafficking, the possibility of being exposed to abuse by way of ‘Mix it’ ‘Face Book’ and other modern technical advancements.

One of the other functions they perform is what they call their “Diversion Programme”. This service provides ‘child offenders’ in the low and medium risk sectors a chance to sort out their lives and get back on the right track prior to sentencing by the court. Those classified in the high risk sector are sent for psychiatric and medication treatment. The ‘Diversion Programme’ includes both the child and the parent and encourages interaction between both parties. The treatment provided in this programme also includes therapies such as dance, art, music, boxing and drama therapy.

Another very important aspect of the services provided by The Teddy Bear Clinic is the training of magistrates, judges, nurses, and doctors in the specialised field of abused child management. We have in the past seen far too many cases being thrown out of court because the magistrate or judge has not been able to identify with the manner in which a child responds to a question and the child is expected to answer the question in the way an adult would. No leniency has been allowed to accommodate the fact that, after all, it is a child being questioned. Although a few lawyers have made use of this type of training, the majority prefer not to, hell lets face it, this type of training would probably weaken their case if they could actually understand the child, and they wouldn’t be able to get the culprit off on a technicality.

On average The Teddy Bear Clinic receives 150 new cases each month and these comprise around 70% sexual abuse cases, 4% physical abuse, 1% neglect, and the balance made up of emotional abuse as a result of witnessing domestic violence and emotional stress from witnessing the sexual abuse of mother and murder. The age groups involved in these forms of abuse are highest 10 – 15 years of age, and sexual abuse between 3 and 9 years of age.

So The Teddy Bear Clinic is involved with many different aspects of providing a support structure for abused children and has a really huge task on their hands, and all of this is accomplished with a meagre staff of 30 permanent staff members and 40 volunteers. So I take my hat off to the dedicated staff of The Teddy Bear Clinic – guys you are doing an amazing job in very difficult circumstances. Keep up the good work.

Then it was off to Radio Electric in Tulisa Park where Kevin completed the installation of the Bandit tracking unit into Buddy. So now you can follow Buddy and my journey in real time by clicking onto the Bandit website and following the steps below:

Go into the www.banditsecurity.co.za website. When the blue screen appears, click on South Africa under the Global Fleet Logins sign. A log-in screen will appear, enter my cell number 0822549129 and the password Buddy. Click on ‘Map’ and to allow the screen/map to follow me while I’m driving click on ‘Refresh’. When you are finished watching Buddy driving around, don’t forget to ‘log out’.

So that’s it, the whole procedure in a nut shell.

Well, I think I have said enough for today, so cheers for now, tomorrow we head out to the Beares store in Midrand and then on to Kempton Park in the afternoon. So keep well, keep all children safe.

Please don’t forget that Buddy’s medical aid is in desperate need of assistance as per our plea on my blog of day 63-64 the 3rd and 4th of October.

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


Tue
6
Oct '09

Day 65: Monday, 5 October 2009

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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The day started with a drive into Johannesburg. Fortunately it was not too early – 9:30 – which meant that I missed the peak hour traffic chaos. It is the first time I have been into the centre of the big city in a number of years in spite of the fact that I live only 18 kilometres away from it and I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised at the cleanliness of the place. The last time I had visited the city it was really filthy and I couldn’t get out fast enough. The Beares store is situated in the heart of the city in the Carlton Centre building and this surprised me even more. The centre is absolutely spotless and is bustling with shoppers. I must admit though that with all the building and road construction going on, in spite of it not being peak hour, the drive through the streets of Jo’burg was somewhat intimidating. I parked Buddy in the Carlton Centre’s parking lot and located the Beares store where I met the friendly Beares staff.

Carlton centre Beares staff

Carlton Centre Beares staff

After spending some time chatting to the staff I made my way back to Buddy where I discovered a group of five woman and three small kids standing around Buddy. One woman explained that on passing and “being attracted by the appearance of this strange little car” she had noticed The Teddy Bear Clinic’s name on Buddy’s bonnet and told me that they had recently helped her family through a very difficult time. Evidently her 5 year-old granddaughter had been raped two years previously by her husband’s 51 year-old brother. On being granted bail her husband and the child’s father had wanted to kill the guy, but he had moved away and the family was torn apart. The child was helped both medically and by way of counselling by The Teddy Bear Clinic and the family was also provided with counselling support to help them through the difficult time.

It’s times like this on the project when I suffer with terrible mixed emotions. I am furious that an individual of my species, a male in his 50’s, has totally destroyed not only a small child’s life, but the lives of an entire family. He has been granted bail by the judicial system which creates an even bigger situation, in that the family see the system as having failed them and the father and grandfather could easily find themselves on the wrong side of the law for having taken the law into their own hands in order to extract what they consider to be a ‘just’ punishment.

But on the other hand it was inspiring to learn that an organisation I am representing, The Teddy Bear Clinic, has been instrumental in providing the assistance they needed to help them through not only the damage that was caused to the small girl, but to help the family, in particular the father, mother, grandfather and grandmother, through an extremely difficult time and to ensure that they do not suffer further heartache by taking the law into their own hands and suffering the consequences of it. I only hope and pray that the State does its bit by ensuring that the culprit is sent away for a very long time, which according to the grandmother should be permanently in the form of a death sentence. (The fact that it has been two years since the rape and the case still has not gone to court is ridiculous). After hearing her speak of the incident and expressing the family’s feelings, I couldn’t help think of the discussion I had had a few weeks ago when it was suggested that a referendum should be held to establish exactly what the public believe needs to be done to stop child rape, death penalty or 45 years life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

I have often been asked, “What prompted you to decide to use a Beach Buggy for the project as opposed to a more comfortable vehicle?”, and when these types of situations crop up I am thankful for having made the decision to use Buddy rather than any other vehicle, because once again Buddy did his job in attracting the attention of a group of woman who provided me with the exact type of material I am looking for on my crusade against child rape. Even during my drive through the streets of Johannesburg people were whistling and waving at ‘Buddy and Me’ and whenever we stopped at traffic lights people walking passed would stop and make comments like “hey that’s a nice car”. The one comment that always makes me smile is “what type of motor bike is this”.

After leaving the city centre I headed for Alberton where I discovered something really neat. You will soon notice that Beares are in the process of changing their corporate image and logo and the Alberton store is the first store in the chain to reflect this change. Although I was told by the store manager, Bucs Mostert, that the final discussion still has to be made on the exact colours which will be used, so what you see in the photo below is not necessarily the final product.

Beares Alberton staff and new look Beares logo

Beares Alberton staff and new look Beares logo

After spending sometime chatting with the really friendly bunch of Beares people in Alberton, and after two interviews with two local newspapers, I headed for Tulisa Park where yet more work was done on Buddy. Fortunately this time it was not repairs, but an installation. Kevin Whitney and James Rautenbach, co-owners of Radio Electric in the Tulisa Park Shopping Centre arranged a sponsorship of a vehicle tracking unit from Bandit Vehicle Tracking & Fleet Management to be fitted into Buddy. This means that by going onto the Bandit website (details will be provided in my next blog) and entering my cell number 082 254 9129 and the password ‘Buddy’ you can follow ‘ Buddy and Me’ on our journey through South Africa, Namibia and Botswana in real time for the next 8 months… neat hey! So to Kevin and Jimmy of Radio Electric who fitted the unit and the management and staff of Bandit a great big thanks to you guys for your support and for making things a little more interesting for the people following the project, not to mention safer for Buddy just in case someone takes a particularly nice interest in him.

Well that’s all I have to say for today. So until tomorrow when ‘Buddy and Me’ visit the Beares store in the Southgate Shopping Mall, ‘Buddy and Me’ wish you a good night, keep well and keep all children safe.

Please don’t forget, Buddy’s medical aid needs help, so if you or anyone you know can assist please see yesterday’s blog for details.

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