ead>

Error. Page cannot be displayed. Please contact your service provider for more details. (25)



Log in


Sun
17
Jan '10

Day 129: Thursday, 14 January 2010

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

Leave a comment


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

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

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

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

After bidding the Klopper family goodbye and thanking them for their tremendous hospitality ‘Buddy and Me’ took to the road, or rather what was left of it after the massive storm we had had last night. Ferdi suggested that I should rather turn right onto the main gravel road from their farm road rather than go left and return to the N1 on the road I had used yesterday to reach the farm. He explained that the road to the right was “flatter” and so would not have the large pools of water which the road to the left would have. I took his suggestion but still faced 15 kilometres of thick mud and large pools of water. By the time I reached the tar road, both Buddy and the trailer were in the same condition they were in when I had arrived in Pinetown last weekend, covered in thick mud.

<i>Me being pinned and presented with Kroonstad Round Tables banner and pin by Ferdi and the other Tablers last night</i>

Me being pinned and presented with Kroonstad Round Tables banner and pin by Ferdi and the other Tablers last night

<i>The front of Ferdi’s ‘farm house’ where Buddy spent the night protected from the massive storm we had</i>

The front of Ferdi’s ‘farm house’ where Buddy spent the night protected from the massive storm we had

<i>Waking to a bright sunny day with all the trimmings of farm life</i>

Waking to a bright sunny day with all the trimmings of farm life

The road to Klerksdorp was yet another road of horrors with some pretty deep potholes scattered all over the road causing motorists to swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid causing major damage to their vehicles suspensions, and tyres and of course from being swallowed up by the holes or rather craters in many instances. We often hear the traffic authorities saying that there are too many “head on” collisions taking place on our roads and that this is due to reckless and negligent driving, well I have news for you, if you spent more time driving and inspecting the roads and fixing the potholes rather than putting up signs all over the countryside warning motorists of potholes we probably wouldn’t have so many head on collisions which I am confident are caused by the atrocious state so many of our roads are in.

My visit to the Beares Klerksdorp store proved to be a particularly interesting one and the group of guests invited by the store manager, Lynette Geldenhuis, included three reverends from the local church communities. I was asked to convey the following message to our country’s leaders, government. “If you are serious about stopping the raping and sexual abuse of our country’s children, you must take the recommendations reflected in Steve’s proposal for a solution to child rape seriously”.

<i>The interesting group of guests and the Klerksdorp <b>Beares</b> staff</i>

The interesting group of guests and the Klerksdorp Beares staff

In Klerksdorp I was hosted accommodation by Tabler Jaco Mienie and his lovely wife Lisindra. The Tablers of Klerksdorp RT45 arranged for a large group of Tablers from the nearby Tables of Stilfontein – RT53 as well as Matlosane – RT219 in the STNOFS area (which for those like myself who have no idea what STNOFS stands for, it’s – Southern Transvaal Northern Orange Free State) to join us for a braai at the Line night club which is owned by Robbie Rossouw, who is the Chairman of the Matlosane Table.

<i>Me being presented with the banner of Round Table Chairman for the STNOFS area by Area Chairman Wimpie Jacobs</i>

Me being presented with the banner of Round Table Chairman for the STNOFS area by Area Chairman Wimpie Jacobs

<i>Me being presented with the Round Table pin for the Round Table of Stilfontein by Percy Booth</i>

Me being presented with the Round Table pin for the Round Table of Stilfontein by Percy Booth

<i>Robbie Rossouw pinning me with the RT Matlosane pin</i>

Robbie Rossouw pinning me with the RT Matlosane pin

<i>Mark Walker presenting pinning me and presenting the RT Klerksdorp banner</i>

Mark Walker presenting pinning me and presenting the RT Klerksdorp banner

We had a really fantastic evening and I must add that Jaco Mienie my host for the evening did an amazing job braaing the meat. So to all the Tablers and their wives, partners and whoever else was present, you have my heartfelt thanks for making my visit to Klerksdorp such a memorable one.

<i>The whole group of Tablers and their better halves</i>

The whole group of Tablers and their better halves

And so ended my visit to Klerksdorp, so now it’s time to bid you cheers until tomorrow when ‘Buddy and Me’ visit Potchefstroom and Sasolburg and hopefully obtain some fresh ideas on what needs to be done to stop the rape and sexual abuse of South Africa’s greatest assets and future leaders, our children.

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

To register (new users) or login (existing users) to leave a comment on this or any other blog, select one of the following:

REGISTER

LOGIN


Sun
17
Jan '10

Day 128: Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

Leave a comment


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

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

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

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

I woke to a bleak overcast and chilly day and after packing all my goodies into the trailer and was ready to start my day with a short drive of 18 kilometres to Odendaalsrus it began to rain. Fortunately it was only a light drizzle and had cleared by the time I reached Odendaalsrus and the rest of the day turned out clear and hot. I unfortunately did not get to meet any of the Round Tablers of Welkom, who had so kindly arranged my night’s accommodation at the Rovers Club, but to the Tablers of Welkom RT you have my heartfelt thanks, I had a really great night’s rest.

Within a few minutes of arriving at the Beares store in Odendaalsrus an absolute horde of people arrived outside the store to meet me and hear my story about what I believe needs to be done to stop the raping of the children and as I was talking we were joined by even more and the crowd grew by the minute. Check this out.

It was amazing how interested these guys were in my story and provided a lot of in-put and opinions

When I asked the usual question of “What do U believe needs to be done to stop the raping of children”, I received the standard reply “They must die, we don’t need that rubbish in our society”. And when I asked the ladies standing near by “What if it’s your husband that rapes your child” they all said that if the government doesn’t want to kill him then they would” and everyone else agreed saying “Yes all child rapists should die”. I found this surprising because to date most women hesitated and ummed and aahed when asked this question saying that if the husband was executed or locked in prison who would feed their children. So obviously the citizens of Odendaalsrus think differently to the other places I have travelled through, here they are not prepared to take the nonsense.

One guy raised the subject concerning the justice department and said the same thing which a reverend in, I think it was Polokwane had said, and that is “Our democracy is far too lenient on the criminals and thugs and that the justice department should be much harder.” Another comment was that it was a mistake to have changed the name of the prison services to ‘The department of Correctional Services’ because this makes it sound too soft and that it should be a prison where people who are sent there are sent there for the purpose of being punished for their crimes against society and that the individuals who are sent there should be referred to as prisoners and not these fancy names they are given”. All of this was music to my ears and our discussion went on for an hour.

After a short chat with the ultra friendly staff of Beares in Odendaalsrus I bid them farewell and headed out of the town destined for Kroonstad, 62 kilometres away.

<i><b>Beares</b> staff Odendaalsrus</i>

Beares staff Odendaalsrus

The road surface to Kroonstad is a driver’s nightmare with potholes scattered all over the road surface and you are continuously swerving to avoid hitting one and damaging the cars suspension. If I had hit one of the ‘dongas’ I think I would have disintegrated Buddy’s suspension, but we arrived in Kroonstad in one piece and headed straight for the Beares store. Once again I got to chat to a large group of guests which included two ladies from the local police department. They confirmed that child rape in the area is really bad and agreed with me about the fact that the police force is in a shambles regarding the CPU/FCS unit and the fact that a dedicated, specialist investigation team is needed to investigate child rape cases and that if the “powers that be” are serious about stopping child rape this needs to happen very quickly.

<i>Some of the guests and staff at the Kroonstad <b>Beares</b> store. The guy sitting on the left of the picture with a big smile on his dial is Lukas Serfontein and he is a RAM – which doesn’t mean what you’re thinking, it actually stands for Regional Admin Manager</i>

Some of the guests and staff at the Kroonstad Beares store. The guy sitting on the left of the picture with a big smile on his dial is Lukas Serfontein and he is a RAM – which doesn’t mean what you’re thinking, it actually stands for Regional Admin Manager

From the Beares store I popped into the Lubners store in Kroonstad where I received the sad news that the store Manager, Emma Meje, had suffered a heart attack and was in hospital. So Emma I’m sorry I missed you and I hope you have a quick and full recovery and back on your feet chop-chop.

<i><b>Lubners</b> staff Kroonstad</i>

Lubners staff Kroonstad

During the day I was contacted by Round Tabler Ferdi Klopper of the Kroonstad Round Table who confirmed that I would be staying with him and his wife Collette and family on their farm this evening. He gave me directions to the farm and after bidding the staff of Beares Kroonstad goodbye Buddy and I took to the road destined for Ferdi’s farm. The drive to the farm involved driving along a 10 kilometre gravel road which due to the fact that the area had experienced some pretty heavy rain falls recently, was pretty muddy and had deep pools of water which on occasion resulted in the water rushing in through the holes I had drilled in Buddy’s floor to let rain water out and so at stages I was ankle deep in water. But we made it through and eventually arrived at the beautiful Klopper farm home.

A little later we were joined by a few other Tablers for a braai. The weather all day was pretty hot but at around 5:30 while standing outside admiring the amazing view and looking out over a large section of Ferdi’s farm, we saw streaks of lightning flashing across the sky in the distance. Within a few minutes we were being lashed by an almighty storm and the rain came pouring down. This lasted for about an hour and a half, but not even a storm of this magnitude could stop or deter a boerjie from a braai. Much later after having enjoyed some good food, good conversation and consumed many frosties I crawled into bed and slept the sleep of the dead.

It’s now Thursday morning – and due to the late, or rather early hour of the morning we finished up last night I did not send off my blog so I am going to sign off yesterday’s blog now and head out to Klerksdorp.

So keep well, keep all children safe.

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

To register (new users) or login (existing users) to leave a comment on this or any other blog, select one of the following:

REGISTER

LOGIN


Thu
14
Jan '10

Day 127: Tuesday 12 January 2010

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

Leave a comment


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

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

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

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

This morning I woke at 5:00am to a magnificent bright and clear sunny day. After making a cup of coffee and climbing back into bed to watch the news and weather (according to the weather report almost every other part of South Africa was going to experience rain today) I was up, showered and dressed by 6am. After stopping off at the Protea Hotel Willow Lake (Bloemfontein) reception to thank the staff for a truly great nights rest and to leave a Beares Teddy Bear and “thank you” note for Lindy Hope for having so kindly arranged my night’s accommodation, I drove out of Bloemfontein destined for Wesselsbron, 155 kilometres away.

Surprisingly the road was a pretty good one; considering that there are no 2010 World Cup Soccer matches being played in this area, but after passing Bultfontein (100 kilometres) the next 50 kilometres to Wesselsbron proved to be yet another mass of pot holes. In fact, after being forced to slam on brakes and screech to a halt because of three really bad ones and the fact that I could not cross to the on-coming lane due to on-coming traffic, I stopped and discovered that if I had hit the “pot holes” which were more like ‘dongas’, I probably would have ripped out Buddy’s entire front suspension. But I survived the drive through to Wesselsbron and enjoyed the drive through 155 kilometres of absolutely flat countryside.

The one thing I was impressed with, after having slated the situation in previous blog’s, is the fact that for the entire way since leaving Bloemfontein, the road side was spotlessly clean. Even the road side rest areas was really clean and when I stopped at one, about 15 kilometres before reaching Wesselsbron to indulge in some breakfast consisting of tuna and Provita biscuits washed down with orange juice, the area was spotless, not a piece of paper, cardboard carton or even used condom in sight, this amazingly clean roadside situation in fact has been with me since Bethlehem, very impressive.

In my blog of days 123,124 & 125 which was Friday and the weekend, I mentioned that a lady who is a Captain in the police in Secunda, Captain Koekemoer, who heads up a “child Protection Unit” there presented a talk to the group of guests invited by the Beares store Manager. After having heard her talk and having not mentioned it on my blog for reasons that I wanted to mull over it for a while before writing about it, I have decided to raise a couple of issues which I am concerned about and in fact spent most of the time driving from Bloemfontein to Wesselsbron thinking about.

During her talk, and this was to a large group of young woman in their early and late teens, she said that, that “If they are faced with the situation of rape you must not fight back.” She went on to say that “It is better to be a victim of rape rather than be dead, your life is more important”. In the same breath she added “Just scream as loud as you can”. Now my question is firstly, is “screaming as loudly as you can” not a form of retaliation or fighting back. Secondly, did she mean that “If rape is inevitable you must just lie back and enjoy it”?

In our esteemed President (Mr. Jacob Zuma’s) rape trial, the reason for him being found not guilty was due to the fact that, after he had acknowledged that he had in fact had sex with an HIV infected woman, he claimed that it had been with her consent. His plea was accepted by the court because the woman, who he had “alleged” to have raped, had not sustained any signs of injury; hence forced rape could not have taken place. This then brings me to my second question. If the child/woman being raped, “Lies back and enjoys the ride”, instead of fighting back and does not sustain injuries to prove that she did not “consent” to sex, how does she convince our courts that she was in fact raped?

Since hearing Captain Koekemoer’s talk, I have discussed this issue at length with a number of people I have met on my travels and have received the following comments from individuals from all walks of life and in many divers’ areas.

“We South Africans are continuously been told by the police, in the government campaigns and other security organisations, that if we are faced with a crime situation we must not retaliate or fight back, “Our lives are more important”. The criminals are fully aware that we are being “brain washed” into becoming a bunch of cowards who when faced with a situation just roll over and beg for our lives and that they (the criminals) are safe from retaliation from us. These comments have certainly given me food for thought.

At the Beares store in Wesselsbron I got to meet two really interesting members of the South African Police Services, who because of their views I am not going to mention their names. But they fully agreed that the situation in the Police Force (sorry – Police Service) is a shambles and that if the government and “powers that be” in the Police Service are serious about stopping child rape they had better do something very fast to curb the confusion surrounding the FCS/CPU/ investigation of child rape cases.

<i><b>Beares</b> Wesselsbron staff – Now that’s what I call a serious looking group</i>

Beares Wesselsbron staff – Now that’s what I call a serious looking group

From Wesselsbron it was a short drive, 55 kilometres to Welkom, a real pleasure. The Beares and Lubners stores in Welkom are situated right next door to each other so this made it really easy for me.

<i>Could it be any easier for me?</i>

Could it be any easier for me?

Between these two stores I got to meet some really interesting people and was drawn into what could have become some very difficult “political discussions, but ended up really interesting ones instead.

Me in full swing, arms going, bald spot showing and all

One of the guys present at the chat at the Beares store was a man by the name of Tshepo Maphutse who is the COS Manager with an organisation called ‘Circles of Support – HDA (Health & development Africa)’. This is an organisation which is funded through the ‘United States Presidents Emergency Plan for Aids Relief – PEPFAR’ whose function is supporting and keeping vulnerable children in school. The aim of the organisation is to contain the impact of the HIV and Aids epidemic on children’s social, economic, cultural, educational and health status. They are performing a much needed role in assisting children in South Africa as well as other African countries and I personally wish them well in their efforts. Should anyone wish to assist the organisation you can contact them via their website www.hda.co.za or e-mail address thaphutse@hda.co.za

One of the topics of contention which Tshepo and I got into was the controversial subject of the child grant issue. I related the information that was given to me on a few occasions by, particularly older – as in mothers and grandmothers – who are being forced to care for, feed, clothe and educate kids while their young mothers, particularly in the mid to late teens, party spending their ‘child grants’. Tshepo claimed that the child grants are reducing poverty in South Africa and so my question was, “Then how come we are still seeing so many small babies and kids starving and being sent to school with nothing to eat in the morning and NGO’s and the public being forced to donate money to feed the millions of starving kids in our country when mothers are receiving child grants for the babies they are giving birth to?”

I also related the stories I have been told regarding the fact that woman in the rural areas are giving birth to babies, claiming the child grants and then “renting” the babies out to other woman in the cities to use to beg at traffic lights. When I raised this issue it was obvious that he had not heard of this shocking practise and shook his head saying that he had no knowledge of this practise. My response was “Don’t worry, it’s only by travelling through our country to the extent I have and having spoken to thousands of people from all walks of life in many divers areas that has enlightened me to the mysterious ways of the people of South Africa, and further more, neither has the government heard of or suspected such practices”.

<i>Beares Welkom staff</i>

Beares Welkom staff

<i>Hey! Who’s that good looking guy in that big poster; could it be a rock star?</i>

Hey! Who’s that good looking guy in that big poster; could it be a rock star?

<i><b>Lubners</b> Staff<i/>

Lubners Staff

And so ended my visit with the friendly staff of Beares and Lubners stores in Welkom. It was a truly busy and tiring day but I enjoyed every minute of visiting Wesselsbron and Welkom but couldn’t wait to get to the Rovers Club in Welkom where the local Round Tablers, in the form of Table Chairman Seppe (check this one out for a surname) Vogtmannsderger, had arranged accommodation for me in a chalet which is really comfortable and hopefully will provide me with a good nights rest.

Unfortunately I didn’t get to meet any of the Tablers in Welkom – to be perfectly honest I am so tired and not feeling well, I just want to go to bed – so I was okay with not having spent the usual “Round Table Chat/Function”. But my sincerest thanks and gratitude goes to them for helping me out with my accommodation for the night, even Buddy had a nice quiet spot to sleep in under some trees. So now – 11:10pm – I am going to sign off and hit the sack with a few pages of Wilbur Smith’s Monsoon, yes! I have still not finished it, and get a good night’s sleep.

So keep well and keep all children safe.

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

To register (new users) or login (existing users) to leave a comment on this or any other blog, select one of the following:

REGISTER

LOGIN


Thu
14
Jan '10

Day 126: Monday, 11 January 2010

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

Leave a comment


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

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

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

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

After a good nights sleep, although it wasn’t very long based on the fact that I spent from 6pm until 10 past 12 (midnight) doing my blog and e-mails, I woke at a quarter past 5(am) and had consumed my first and only tank of fuel (a cup of coffee) for the day, showered, dressed and was packed and ready to depart from Bethlehem soon after 6am. Although the sun was shinning and the sky was clear it was quite chilly.

On yesterday’s blog I mentioned the shocking state that so many of our roads are in and that all the money is being spent on the roads leading to and in the major areas where the 2010 World Cup Soccer games are going to be held. Well today’s drive proved this theory to be correct. The road from Bethlehem to Winburg via Paul Roux and Senekal is in the process of being renovated and is a really nice road to drive on and obviously the N1 from Winburg to Bloemfontein is a beautiful road to drive on. On arriving in Bloemfontein I mentioned this to a few people and their response was “Yes it has to be, it is expected to carry a lot of traffic to Bloemfontein from Durban and other areas for the World Cup games being played in Bloemfontein.

The countryside one passes through between Bethlehem and the N1 is really spectacularly beautiful and I thoroughly enjoyed the drive. Buddy has been purring along like he has never done before and so is obviously also enjoying the drive.

On arriving at the Beares store in Bloemfontein, I decided to make enquiries as to whether or not a Thuthuzela Care Centre exists in the City. I phoned one of the large hospitals in the area and on asking if there is a Thuthuzela Care Centre in Bloemfontein I received the response “Huh what’s that”. I explained that it’s a government centre that provides a support structure for victims of rape and domestic violence and the response remained a “Huh, no I don’t know of such a place”.

A call to the police received the same response. I then phoned a second hospital, the National Hospital and after initially receiving the same response and after asking to speak to a senior member of staff, I was put through to someone who confirmed that there is such a unit in the hospital.

After obtaining directions to the hospital I arrived at the hospital and then the fun and games really started. Because there were no signs whatsoever providing directions to the TCC unit I asked the security at the entrance where the Thuthuzela Care Centre is situated. The response was a blank stare followed by a shake of the head and the response “There is no such unit in this hospital”. I repeated the question to a few staff members on the premises and received the same response. Eventually after 20 minutes of walking around the premises I discovered a sign which gave directions to a clinic, Ha! I thought, this must be a lead, and it was. Once inside the building there were about 50 signs (pieces of paper) reflecting an arrow and the words “Thuthuzela Care Centre” written on them?

I met a lady by the name of Millicent Motsoari who proved to be very friendly and who was very happy to show me around the unit. I must say I was very impressed with the unit and the services they provide which includes the services of a forensic nurse who is on duty twenty four hours a day as well as a psychologist and social workers. Unfortunately the one big problem which I believe is an absolute necessity in the unit is the presence of a full time ‘qualified’ police official, preferably a female in civilian clothing, to take the initial statement and to open the docket. Unfortunately they are still making use of the local police, whoever is on duty at the time of the reporting of the rape, and then the victim is transported to the TCC unit by way of the back of a police van, which to me is totally unacceptable. But overall I must say that the premises are very clean and after having been opened a year ago they are definitely on the right path, but the unit still needs tweaking to get it to the standard it needs to be.

From the TCC unit I headed for the Beares store in Heidedal, a township situated a short distance from the centre of Bloemfontein. Here I met the staff and had a long chat about the project and got their opinions on the rape of children and what should be done to stop it, and all strongly supported the reintroduction of the death penalty for child rape.

<i>Meet the friendly staff of <b>Beares</b> Heidedal</i>

Meet the friendly staff of Beares Heidedal

Then I returned to the Bloemfontein Beares store where I met the store manager, Joe Hope and his friendly bunch of people.

<i>Don’t be fooled by the serious looks, they really are a friendly bunch</i>

Don’t be fooled by the serious looks, they really are a friendly bunch

On my last visit to Bloemfontein, while on my African odyssey project, I was very kindly sponsored accommodation at the Protea Hotel in Bloemfontein which was arranged by Linda Hope (no relation to Joe Hope of Beares) who was the Marketing Plan Executive and her boss the General Manager Reinhard Walzl. So with my fingers and toes crossed I once again entered the hotel in the hope of obtaining a night’s sponsored accommodation in the Hotel. Unfortunately when I asked if they were still with the Hotel I was told “Sorry neither of them works at the Hotel anymore”. My heart immediately dropped about an inch but the receptionist continued and told me that they are both currently employed at the Willow Lake Protea Hotel which could be found a couple of kilometres down the road, closer to Bloemfontein Centre.

On arriving in the Hotel foyer, Linda came out of her office and recognised me immediately. Without hesitation she said “You are going to be spending the night here I hope”. I admited that that was the reason for the visit and so my accommodation in this really magnificent hotel was sorted.

On arriving in my room, I discovered that my room’s window faces onto a Zoo and standing about 20 metres from my window was an elephant playing with a large truck tyre. A few metres to my right was a small heard of ‘buck’ now don’t get clever and ask “what kind of buck are they”, a bucks a buck in my book so just accept it as that. If anyone reading this considers himself or herself a “buck” expert, by all means put the details of the species on the websites ‘comment blog’ by registering and logging on, smart ass.

<i>My neighbour enjoying himself throwing a large tyre around</i>

My neighbour enjoying himself throwing a large tyre around

<i>Now here are the ‘Buck’ so what are they? To me they look like springbok</i>

Now here are the ‘Buck’ so what are they? To me they look like springbok

<i>This is the back of the Protea Hotel facing the Zoo. The elephant was behind me and the ‘buck’ on my right</i>

This is the back of the Protea Hotel facing the Zoo. The elephant was behind me and the ‘buck’ on my right

So tonight I sleep in absolute luxury, check this pic of my room out, neat hey.

After all my talking today I did not gleam anything new with regard to child rape or anything new with regard to a solution to stopping it. But the one thing that is definite is the fact that the public are sick and tiered of hearing the comments made by government ministers when they say “There is no solution to stopping child rape”. The publics view is that if they can’t stop it then it’s about time they resigned and put someone in the position that can.

So until tomorrow when ‘Buddy and Me’ head for Wesselsbron and then on to Welkom where I will be spending the evening, hopefully arranged by Round Table in Welkom, Buddy and Me wish you a good night, and keep safe.

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

To register (new users) or login (existing users) to leave a comment on this or any other blog, select one of the following:

REGISTER

LOGIN


Mon
11
Jan '10

Day 123-125: Friday to Sunday, 8-10 January 2010

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

Leave a comment


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

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

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

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

Friday proved to be a disastrous day for me. It started with a visit to the two Beares stores in Secunda. This was the good part of the day. First it was the original Beares store where that amazing lady, Valerie O’Neil (Wife of Eugene O’Neil the manager of the Bethal store is. And then this was followed by a visit to the second Beares store in Secunda which was previously a Lubners store before being converted to a Beares store. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to both stores and had a chat with the staff and met a large group of people who provided me with some interesting ideas on the subject of child rape.

One lady in particular is a Captain in what she refers to as “The child protection/sexual abuse of children unit” in the area, Captain Koekamoer. She explained that they have established this specialist unit because the situation in the area is very bad and a need for specialised investigation was desperately needed. Damn why don’t we have area/regional commissioners like the one that is in this area. When I broached the subject of the ridiculously low conviction rate (currently standing at between 4 & 6%) she stated that the conviction rate in the Secunda area stands at an average of 60%.

I found this hard to believe and when I asked if this was specifically for child rape, as in children under the age of 12 years of age, she confirmed that it was not and was for all rape cases. Unfortunately she could not confirm the conviction rate for child rape cases only. To be perfectly honest I found this to be a bit strange, because she had just told me that she worked “In a unit that specialised in the investigation of specifically child rape cases” but could not provide me with details regarding the conviction rate of child rape cases?

<i>Captain Koekemoer in white on the extreme left</i>

Captain Koekemoer in white on the extreme left

<i><b>Beares</b> staff Secunda, previously <b>Lubners</b></i>

Beares staff Secunda, previously Lubners

<i><b>Beares</b> Secunda staff as well as the Round Table guys</i>

Beares Secunda staff as well as the Round Table guys

Then my problems for the day began. The Round Tablers of Secunda arrived at the Beares store and during our chat I explained that because I was going to be in Bloemfontein on Monday morning, this being the area where I was going to return to after finishing the previous leg of the project there in November, I had decided to make a detour through Pinetown and visit my daughter and family because it was my granddaughters birthday on Saturday the 9th January. She had no clue that I was going to be attending her birthday and so it would be a great surprise for her.

Chris Hawes, that character of note Tabler, gave me very specific directions on how to travel to Pinetown via Standerton and then Vrede via the Volksrust road and then by following the N3 toll road, get to Pinetown. Well everything went well until I missed the turn off to Vrede in Standerton, which by the way wasnot marked with a sign board, and ended up driving all the way through to Volksrust. Here I found a turn off to Vrede and took it. After having travelled on this road for 30 kilometres, which by the way is a really nice wide and relatively newly tarred road, the road became a gravel road.

To make matters worse, soon after entering Volksrust it began to rain and I soon discovered that it had been raining in the area of the gravel road for sometime. I thought that perhaps the gravel road only ran for a short way and that the tar would resume again. The road conditions got seriously bad and by the time I realised that the gravel / mud road was there to stay it was too late to turn around. These terrible conditions continued all the way through to Vrede (57 kilometres) and Buddy, the trailer and I ended up sliding off the road into long grass and bush three times. Because of the thick mud, when Buddy and the trailer got into a slide there was absolutely nothing I could do to stop it and even when I turned the steering in a full lock and accelerated I could not stop the slide. Fortunately there was bush and long grass on the side of the road and on two occasions I thought I was going to be there for the night because when I tried to get Buddy out the wheels just spun, but luckily there was a lot of small stones and the wheels got traction and we managed to get back onto the road. If there had been a donga (deep ravine) on the side of the road instead of the long grass and bush we would have been history.

At one point I saw a sign which in spite of the lousy conditions brought a smile to my face, what do you think of this, as you can see in the photo it’s a gravel road.

<i>A warning of ‘Potholes’ can you believe it</i>

A warning of ‘Potholes’ can you believe it


The trailer and Buddy were covered in mud

I had left Secunda at 10 past 2 in the afternoon and by the time I had driven the 593 kilometres to Pinetown it was 20 passed 1 in the morning. It had rained most of the way and was a really lousy trip, but seeing Michaela’s face light up when she saw me on Saturday morning was well worth all the discomforts of the trip.

<i>The birthday girl, Michaela and a very proud grandfather</i>

The birthday girl, Michaela and a very proud grandfather

<i>This is the only part I have a problem with her, notice the ‘Bulls’ cap</i>

This is the only part I have a problem with her, notice the ‘Bulls’ cap

<i>And here is the other part of the fandamly, Carey my daughter and Michaela's brother Dain – 16 months old</i>

And here is the other part of the fandamly, Carey my daughter and Michaela's brother Dain – 16 months old

After a great evening with my fandamly, I woke on Sunday morning (this morning) and after a hearty breakfast of probably the best omelette I have ever tasted cooked by Carey my daughter, I headed out of Pinetown at 10:30am in the direction of Bloemfontein, about 650 kilometres away. I thoroughly enjoyed the drive, particularly through the Golden Gate, northern region of the Drakensburg area, but at 5:30 in the afternoon and on entering Bethlehem I decided that enough was enough and sought out “Nix Pub & B&B”. When I had visited Bethlehem on my last project Nick Louw, the owner of the establishment, had kindly sponsored me a night’s accommodation at his terrific place, and so when I arrived suddenly on his door step he did not hesitate to offer me another night’s accommodation. So now snug as a bug in a rug in Nix Pub and B&B in Bethlehem I am catching up on my blog and going to get a good night’s rest before heading out for Bloemfontein at 5am tomorrow morning.

So until tomorrow, keep well, and naturally, keep all children safe.

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

To register (new users) or login (existing users) to leave a comment on this or any other blog, select one of the following:

REGISTER

LOGIN


Mon
11
Jan '10

Day 122: Thursday, 7 January 2010

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

Leave a comment


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

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

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

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

After thanking Dwayne for his kind hospitality, ‘Buddy and Me’ took to the road and headed in the direction of Kriel first and then on to Bethal. I must say, when one drives and travels the roads of South Africa as extensively as I am, you get to see how mega millions of Rands are being spent on the country’s road infrastructure in the areas which is going to be attracting foreigners to the World Cup Games, everywhere else the road infrastructure is falling apart with huge potholes which cause major damage to the suspensions of cars travelling on them. Surely drivers can claim from government for this damage. Also we are continuously hearing about the “Arrive Alive” campaign; well I am sure that a very large number of the accidents caused on our roads are directly attributed to the poor state the majority of our roads are in. I frequently have on coming cars swerving into my lane to avoid hitting a monster pothole.

I arrived in Kriel and once again was terribly disappointed to see how this once beautiful farming town has deteriorated to a slum town, like so many other once lovely farming towns have been subjected to being reduced to dirty slums. The staff at the Beares store is really a great bunch and Stella Landman, the store manager who was the manager of the Bethal store on my last project was her usual bubbly self. Kriel is a pretty small place, but child rape is ripe here. Stella arranged for the staff and kids from the ‘Cosmos Children’s Haven’ a safe house for child rape victims to pop in for a visit and chat.

The ‘Safe House’ can accommodate 70 kids and this number is maintained permanently. Kids are sent to the ‘safe house’ by the courts and remain there until the case has been finalised. The part that really annoys me, is the fact that the courts, our government, send the kids there to “keep them safe” while waiting for the trial to be completed and this as everyone knows averages between 18 to 24 months, and the State pays nothing towards their keep, the age of the kids range from small babies to kids in their mid teens and so once again we have a situation where the management and staff of the ‘Safe House’ spend a very large portion of their lives trying to source funds to look after and care for the kids.

<i>The Kriel <b>Beares</b> staff. Stella is second from the right at the back</i>

The Kriel Beares staff. Stella is second from the right at the back

From Kriel ‘Buddy and Me’ headed for Bethal where on my last visit in February 2006, the town had suffered a three week electricity black-out. The black-out was caused due to the fact that the Mayor had stolen five million Rand which was supposed to have been spent fitting a new generator or whatever it is that provides the town with electricity. Instead of fitting a new one, he instructed the supplier to service and repaint the old one, to make it look like a new one, which was something like 25 years old, and refit it. The municipality was invoiced for a “new one” and the supplier was paid and the Mayor was reimbursed for his ‘support’. Welcome to South Africa. The state of the town clearly reflects the standard of the management of the town by the council.

<i><b>Beares</b> Bethal staff</i>

Beares Bethal staff

After a chat with the staff and guests, I headed for Secunda where I was once again being hosted accommodation with Round Tabler Neville Kotze, and from what I was told about this Round Table area, I was expecting a hectic time and that is exactly what I got!

The evening was spent at their ‘club house’ and we enjoyed a magic braai, obviously a ‘few’ cold frosties were consumed and we chattered about the child rape situation as well as a few other topics which are affecting South Africans.

<i>Being pinned and presented with the Secunda Round Table banner by Neville while all the other RT’s look on</i>

Being pinned and presented with the Secunda Round Table banner by Neville while all the other RT’s look on

<i>All the Round Tablers and their better halves</i>

All the Round Tablers and their better halves

<i>The ‘braai and good conversation. The big guy with the goatee beard and orange shirt in the middle of the picture – Chris Hawes - probably deserves the award for the “character” of the project to date</i>

The ‘braai and good conversation. The big guy with the goatee beard and orange shirt in the middle of the picture – Chris Hawes - probably deserves the award for the “character” of the project to date

Of course the subject of child rape was discussed at length but I did not gleam any new information from these Tablers. They are however all of the opinion that something desperate must be done to stop the raping of children in our country and it needs to be done “yesterday”.

Before I sign off, I just want to tell everyone to visit the ‘comments blog’ on my website. Michelle from iThemba Crisis Centre in Benoni very kindly sent in a report on the progress of Baby ‘L’ whose storey was reported in the press during November after she was discovered chained to a table in a shack on the East Rand and was being treated like a dog, and because of the treatment she was getting from her parents, was acting like one. I did write about the storey when I heard the media / news report and Michelle has promised to keep everyone up dated with Baby ‘L’s’ progress on the blog. They would appreciate any contributions anyone can make which will go towards her well being, counselling and keep. So please, if you can help them out it will sincerely be appreciated. Details are on the ‘comments blog’.

So with that I am once again going to love and leave you and hope that everyone stays safe and of course above all, keep all children safe.

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

To register (new users) or login (existing users) to leave a comment on this or any other blog, select one of the following:

REGISTER

LOGIN


Mon
11
Jan '10

Day 121: Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

Leave a comment


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

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

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

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

Phew! This past week has proved to be a really “busy” one. What with all the driving, the Beares and Lubners store visits and talks with all the guests they arranged for me to meet, and then of course all the “functions” arranged by the Round Tablers I have been meeting and staying with, I have not even had an opportunity to update my blogs, not to mention respond to all the e-mails I have been receiving. So I decided that to day I would try and get my blog up to date, so here goes.

Firstly I want to relate a story about a little boy that really boggled my mind when I heard it. Herman Geldenhuis and his wife Cindy, the Tabler who kindly hosted my accommodation in Middleburg, have a four and a half year old son named Luke; a picture of him is on my last blog standing next to Herman. When Luke was 18 months old he fell into their swimming pool and when he was found floating face down in the pool he had absolutely no signs of life. Cindy (Herman’s wife and Luke’s mother) and a friend administered CPR but when the paramedics arrived they confirmed that he had “flat-lined”.

He was taken to the hospital where he was officially certified dead on arrival. A doctor told Herman and Cindy of a procedure which had been carried out in America and which involved reducing the body temperature from 37 degrees to 30 degrees with the use of the ICU air-conditioning and ice packs and to keep the heart and lung machines on for a few days. The idea is also to keep the brain completely in-active. After 5 days of being in a state of coma, Luke showed signs of regaining life and consciousness. Seven days later Luke was fully awake and was removed from the ICU unit and placed in a normal ward. A couple of days later he was up and on his way home with absolutely no side effects or signs that he had in fact been dead for 5 days.

Herman related this story to me while we, that’s Herman, Luke and I, were driving around the nature reserve which I mentioned in my last blog and believe me, when I talked to Luke and watched him getting all excited about the animals we were seeing I could not believe that he had been subjected to such trauma and is such a bubbly child it’s incredible to think that he in fact had died for 5 days, absolutely amazing.

So after that incredible story, back to the project, I have decided that I don’t like Middleburg, although all the people I have met in the town are truly great people. The reason for this is because on my previous visit to the area back in, I think it was September, I experienced major problems with Buddy which cost me R10 000-00. Then while packing the trailer and Buddy in the morning, Herman asked if I had ever had anything stolen during my drive through Africa and apart from making a stupid mistake by leaving my sunglasses hanging on my rear view mirror and having someone take them, I have not had anything stolen.

Half an hour later while driving through the town of Middleburg, I stopped at a traffic light and felt someone tap me on my right shoulder. When I turned around I found it to be a local guy who was standing by my rear right tyre and while jabbering in his language, pointed at my wheel. After a quick look I decided that there was nothing there and looked forward and saw that the traffic lights had changed to green. I pulled off and immediately on turning the corner; the car behind me pulled up alongside and indicated for me to stop. The driver wound down his window and told me that while I was stopped at the traffic light and being distracted by the guy by my rear wheel, another thieving swine had stolen something from my buggy.

I have driven with my filo-fax which has been between the two seats right through out my Africa trip and have never had a problem. The filo-fax contains my diary as well as business cards from all the people I have met on my travels and other information and this is what the thieving swine had stolen. There was absolutely nothing of value in it, only information which can only be used by me. The other damage of course was the cost of a replacement filo-fax and diary (R185-00).

When I arrived at the Beares store and told the manager, Dewet Holtzhausen what had happened, as soon as I had finished my talk with the staff and a large group of guests and was on my way to Belfast (no I have not moved on to Ireland, this is Belfast in Mpumalanga) he took three staff members to the area and search the area for two blocks in all directions with the hope that the thieving swine had thrown my filo-fax into a garbage box or disguarded it somewhere in the area. But when he phoned me at the Beares store in Belfast later he gave me the bad news that they had not been able to find it. So to that thieving piece of garbage, I hope my filo-fax brings you nothing but bad luck and hope that all the evil powers on earth rain down on you and that your life is absolute hell from here on.

<i>Beares staff Middleburg</i>

Beares staff Middleburg

As I said, from Middleburg I headed for Belfast. The weather had been really kind to me (for a change over the past few days) and I arrived at the Belfast Beares store 10 minutes before time where I was met by that charismatic Beares Manager, Loudina Viviers. I was once again given the opportunity to chat to everyone about the project and to get their in-put and opinions on what needs to be done to stop child rape.

At every ‘talk’ I ask the people, “If you were made President of South Africa tomorrow morning and was given the mandate to do whatever you believe needs to be done to stop the rape and sexual abuse of our children within a period of two years, what would you do to accomplish this feat, what do you believe is the most important thing that needs to be done to stop the nonsense currently running amok in our country?” Almost every time I ask this question I get a blank look and the response “I don’t think it can be stopped but the death penalty should be brought back” and that’s it!

When I go into the 9 points I have raised in my, so far, 23 page ‘Proposal to the President for a Solution to Stop Child Rape’, they respond with “Wow yes that’s exactly what has to be done,” and “Damn, child rape can be stopped”.

The only person, who, so far, has had sight of my ‘Presidential Proposal’, is a lady by the name of Amelia Vale who is a Freelance Documentary Producer for the BBC and Channel Four television programme in the UK. She is doing everything in her power to get the BBC and or other TV stations in the world to agree to letting her come out soon and join me with a TV crew and to record a documentary of the ‘Buddy and Me’ project in the Eastern and Western Cape areas. This is where I believe the child rape situation in South Africa is at its worst, particularly with regard to child offenders.

When I e-mailed her my ‘Presidential Proposal’, which was immediately after I had completed my very first draft of it, she gave me a very good critique on it. But since then, due to various other bits of information I have picked up during December and over this past week, there has been a few adjustments and changes to it. I will be continuing to make changes to it over the next two months and believe that by the time I arrive in Cape Town I will have come up with, what I believe, is definitely a solution to stopping the rape and sexual abuse of children in South Africa, and our esteemed President and his cabinet had better listen and take note. I will of course also be releasing it on this website for the public’s comments and opinions. So watch this space.

Unfortunately in Belfast I made the biggest booboo to date. I asked the husband of the local newspaper reporter to take a photo of me and Buddy together with the staff and other guests. Unfortunately I did not check if the picture came out and later when I down loaded my pictures I discovered that the picture was not taken! So I have asked Loudina to ask the newspaper reporter to e-mail one of her pictures to me and will put it on the blog later when I receive it.

From Belfast, I returned to Middleburg where I collected my trailer from where I had left it at Herman and Cindy’s house and continued on to Witbank where I was being hosted with accommodation by Tabler Dwayne Viviers (I have no idea if he is related to Loudina – Beares Manager Belfast – but I am definitely going to find out and let you know).

The evening ended up being ‘one very “busy” night’ as usually happens with Round Table functions and a really good time was had by all.

<i>Me being pinned with the Middleburg Round Table pin and presented with the Middleburg RT banner by Guy Crichton and Frans Range</i>

Me being pinned with the Middleburg Round Table pin and presented with the Middleburg RT banner by Guy Crichton and Frans Range

<i>Being pinned and presented with Witbank Round Table pin and banner by Dwayne Viviers and Ricus van Heerden</i>

Being pinned and presented with Witbank Round Table pin and banner by Dwayne Viviers and Ricus van Heerden

After being pinned and presented with the banners came the really bad part for me, which involved me having to ‘down’ a concoction of whatever it is the Tablers mixed, real evil stuff!

<i>Downing a concoction of moogoo juice while Dwayne enjoys my pain in the back ground</i>

Downing a concoction of moogoo juice while Dwayne enjoys my pain in the back ground

<i>All the Tablers and their better halves</i>

All the Tablers and their better halves

<i>Fun was had by all</i>

Fun was had by all

Fortunately Dwayne was leaving early the next morning for Sodwana Bay where he has a place and deep sea ski boat and was going to do some fishing for a few days, so we finished up early – well early in the morning anyway, at a little after 2am, and so that brought an end to my day in Witbank, again.

So I’m now going to close off this blog and so until I get a chance to do my blog again, cheers, keep well and keep all children safe.

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

To register (new users) or login (existing users) to leave a comment on this or any other blog, select one of the following:

REGISTER

LOGIN


Mon
11
Jan '10

Day 119 – 120: Monday and Tuesday, 4-5 January 2010

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

Leave a comment


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

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

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

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

So with the crazy period of the year over, that of course being the “festive period” ‘Buddy and Me’ are back on the road again on our crusade to bring a halt to that despicable crime of child rape. I spent the entire month of December at home with most of my time spent on my laptop putting together my proposal for a solution to stopping child rape to our esteemed president and his cabinet. At the moment it consist of 23 pages and still going, so hopefully after I have tweaked it with information and opinions obtained from the many hundreds or thousands of people I still have to interview on my journey through South Africa during the next couple of months, I will be ready to release it to everyone for your opinions. So stay tuned to this blog ‘Buddy and Me’ need your in-put.

So Christmas and New Year’s eve were relatively quiet with May and I spending new years eve with her family at home in our ‘boma’.

<i>The family enjoying ourselves waiting for the grand entrance of 2010</i>

The family enjoying ourselves waiting for the grand entrance of 2010

As I hope you have read on my “Christmas Blog” Beares gave me an amazing Christmas present in the form of increasing my sponsorship to accommodate the gynormous medical costs Buddy incurred in September, so once again to Tony, Andrea and the rest of the management and staff at Beares, a great big thanks from ‘Buddy and Me’. As if this wasn’t enough, ATT (Auto and Truck Tyres – Wadeville Germiston) contacted me and gave me the great news that they were sponsoring Buddy new front tyres, so with flashy new front tyres all balanced driving Buddy now is pure heaven. So thanks ATT your generosity is greatly appreciated.

The only problem with spending such a lengthy period of time off the project is that while on the project, driving from town to town meeting and talking to hundreds of different people every day, one gets into a routine and after spending time at home being spoilt rotten with great cooking, coffee and toast in bed every morning, it is very difficult to get back into the routine of the project again. So for this reason I decided that I would head out of the comfort zone of home on Sunday morning (3 January 2010) and head for the Witbank Dam where I intended camping for two nights while starting my Beares and Lubners store visits in Klipfontein and Witbank.

<i>Camp site at Witbank Dam</i>

Camp site at Witbank Dam

Having spent a pretty reasonable time travelling around South Africa and having camped at many different municipal resorts, I have come to the conclusion that the ‘caravan/camping’ industry in South Africa is in for some pretty hard times ahead. The last time I visited the Witbank Dam was about 10-12 years ago. At that time the camping section of the resort was a really beautiful one with spotlessly clean ablutions and neatly cut lawns and the day visitors section was equally spectacular. Unfortunately as in the case of all of the other municipal resorts I have visited, this once beautiful place is speedily being reduced to a grotty, dirty overgrown field with the ablutions in a state of gross disrepair. On arriving I found the place littered with broken bottles, papers and other debris which I was told by fellow campers was caused when the place was infiltrated by bus loads of the local population ‘celebrating’ New Year’s Day in the day visitors section of the resort and infiltrated into the camping section of the resort as well. Fortunately the mess was cleaned up on Monday morning prior to me taking the photograph.

The weather during the drive to the Witbank Dam had been really great and remained like that for the whole day and night on Sunday. But alas when I woke on Monday morning it was overcast and very cool. I arrived at the Klipfontein Beares store as scheduled at 11am and was greeted by the really friendly staff of Beares Klipfontein, two ladies from the ‘Witbank Victim Support’ group, Zelda Heyns and Antoinette Deiner as well as a lady from the police and a group of other ladies from various businesses and organisations in the area.

We got into a really interesting discussion on the subject of child rape in general as well as the situation in the area and once again it was confirmed that it is occurring on an ever increasing scale in the Witbank and surrounding areas and there does not appear to be anything being done to stop it. The ‘Witbank Victim Support’ group are obviously doing an amazing job in providing support in various forms to victims of all kinds of trauma especially domestic violence and child rape and abuse and as usual are forced to spend a huge amount of their time securing funding from the private sector. So to the ladies of ‘Witbank Victim Support’ ‘Buddy and Me’ take our hats off to you for the fantastic job you are doing. Should anyone in the Witbank area find themselves being subjected to trauma in any form, or if there is any kind hearted people out there who wish to donate (money, clothing, food or anything else) there contact numbers are: 071 516 1454 and 071 514 9262). Ladies keep up the good work.

I had an opportunity to discuss some of the issues I have raised in my proposal to the president on what needs to be done to stop child rape in our country with my guests and it appears that in their opinion I have “hit the nail squarely on the head”. We discussed the issue of child offenders which is an issue very close to my heart and which I firmly believe is currently South Africa’s biggest problem.

I am confident that when I say that the majority, if not all, the parents of South Africa are extremely concerned about our governments decision to close the schools over the six weeks period of the World Cup Soccer escapade and is a blatantly stupid one. We have been reading and hearing in the media for sometime that the human trafficking of children and young girls is expected to skyrocket over this period and with this in mind our government decides to close the schools. Considering the fact that parents will not be able to take six weeks leave this will result in millions of kids running around the streets unsupervised. Apart from the human trafficking issue, this will ensure that the unemployed individuals who have a tendency to sexually abuse children will be having a field day. Our police force will have their hands full coping with the usual soccer hooliganism experienced at all major soccer events, so please Mr. Zuma and your team of geniuses, who is going to look after and protect the children while you are watching soccer.

By two o’clock when our discussion ended, the sky outside had turned a really dark menacing shade of black! So I bid farewell to the friendly staff of Beares and my guests, jumped into Buddy and headed for my camp.

<i><b>Beares</b> Klipfontein staff and guests</i>

Beares Klipfontein staff and guests

On the way back to my camp, I decided that I needed some ‘stuff’ which included some short rib and other items needed for my first curry on this leg of the project so I pulled into a shopping centre and obtained all the items needed from the local Pick n’ Pay. On exiting the centre I discovered that it had started to rain and when I say rain I mean rain. The heavens opened up and thunder rolled like there was not going to be a tomorrow. By the time I arrived at my camp, in spite of having hastily rolled on the canvas roof, I was good and solidly soaked! The devastating wind had blown the poles holding my tents veranda down and so I had to spend time re-pegging and tying down the tent. At that stage I was already so wet the additional time in the rain undertaking this task made no difference. Once this had been accomplished I entered the tent and sat the rest of the storm out while, after getting into dry clothes, lay on my stretcher getting acquainted with ‘Wilbur Smith’s Monsoon’. Although eventually after an hour and a half the storm eased up, it continued to drizzle on and off for the rest of the day and night.

This morning (Tuesday) I was up early, 5am, because one look outside my tent indicated that although it was not raining at the time, it could start any minute. So I hastily packed, showered and was heading out of the resort at 7:15am. During my chat with the ladies from the ‘Witbank Victims Support’ group yesterday, and on raising the topic of the Thuthuzela Care Centres Antoinette told me that the Senior Public Prosecutor in Witbank, Mr. Faani Mavundla is a key figure in the NPA’s involvement in the establishing of the Thuthuzela Care Centres. A phone call was made to his office and it was confirmed that he would be happy to meet with me this morning at 9am. So after a brief stop at a local Wimpy for breakfast I located the courts and met Mr. Mavundla.

At this stage I must admit that today turned out to be possibly the most interesting day of my project to date. It started with my meeting with Mr. Mavundla who turned out to be an incredibly interesting and friendly man. Our discussion on the child rape situation in the country as which included a lengthy discussion on the police and courts involvement went on for an hour and a half. We discussed the issues surrounding the low national conviction rate and he confirmed that although the conviction rate in the Witbank area for child rape was slightly higher than the national average for the month of December, it was still pathetically low.

He confirmed that he believes that the must be a closer working relationship between the police and the court structure and agreed with me that the standard of the initial reporting of a child rape case has to be improved drastically. The initial statement made by a victim is the most crucial aspect of a case when being presented for trial in court, and unfortunately the low conviction rate being experienced can be largely attributed to the bad statements being taken down by inexperienced police officers. He also agreed that our courts need to be more child friendly and that magistrates/judges and defence councils need to “lower the bar” when it comes to evidence being given by kids. They cannot expect a child to present evidence in the same manner as an adult and use vocabulary and terminology found in the law books. As I said, I found Mr. Mavundla to be an exceptional man of high integrity and not be mention very friendly guy and I believe that our country needs many more individuals of his calibre.

From Mr. Mavundla’s office I headed for the Lubners store where I met a large group of yet more exceptional people. This group included social workers from NGO’s as well as from the Department of Development and Social Welfare Services and an exceptional policeman by the name of Constable David Ratau of the Communications Services of the Witbank Police Services.

During our, once again, lengthy discussion, the subject of child offenders was raised, and when I mentioned the fact that to date during all my travels around South Africa I had not seen or been told of a single place of detention for child offenders he mentioned that there was one “close by in Witbank” and that he would be happy to take me there in his police car. One look outside where it was pouring with rain convinced me to take him up on his offer of driving in a police vehicle rather than taking Buddy and so after what turned out to be an hour an a halfs discussion I bid the other guests farewell and jumped into the cop car.

<i><b>Lubners</b> Witbank staff and guests, I’m sure you can’t mistake Constable David Ratau</i>

Lubners Witbank staff and guests, I’m sure you can’t mistake Constable David Ratau

Constable Ratau’s definition of “close by in Witbank” and mine definitely differ vastly, because the ‘Industrial School of Vikelwa’ proved to be about 50 kilometres away and 10 kilometres past Ogies which resulted in a round trip of 100 kilometres. The visit proved worth while because I got to meet yet another incredible man in the form of Mr. Richard Usinga who gave me a guided tour of the establishment and presented me with some very interesting facts regarding the “school”.

The “school” was evidently originally built in the early 1990’s by the then “apartheid” government for the purpose of detaining anti-government “terrorist” juveniles. The construction of the building definitely reflects the fact that it was meant as a prison and is not conducive for the purpose of a school for normal education etc. The juveniles who are sent there are; as constable Ratau describes them “bad apple’s”, and are provided with both academic studies as well provided with industrial and engineering instruction.

It is abundantly clear that the “school” is totally under utilized (there are about twenty staff more than juveniles in the centre) and I believe considering the fact that the juveniles attending the “school” are by no means “hardened juvenile delinquents” and are allowed free access to the grounds and outside area and visit their parents and families during the school holidays, and based on the fact that, as I said, the building was definitely designed for the purpose of a far more stricter security situation as in prison, the establishment is currently being wasted and could be put to far better use as in the detention of our countries serious juvenile crime offenders.

The rain did not let up all day and so on returning to Witbank I was dropped off at the Lubners store where I collected Buddy and drove in the pouring rain to the Beares store. Here I had a nice quiet time with the staff and tried to dry out.

<i><b>Beares</b> Witbank staff</i>

Beares Witbank staff

Fortunately when it was time to leave Witbank and head out for Middleburg where I have been hosted by Round Tabler Herman Geldenhuis and his wife Cindy together with their two sons and daughter, the rain had eased to a drizzle.

Herman decided I needed a bit of a rest from driving and so took his young son Luke and myself on a game drive through the nature reserve which forms pert of the ‘Estate’ they live in.

<i>Buck in the Estate nature reserve</i>

Buck in the Estate nature reserve

<i>Herman, his four year old son Luke and his other son, next to Herman and a friend</i>

Herman, his four year old son Luke and his other son, next to Herman and a friend

After a great evening of chatting and of course consuming more than one frosty, I have retired to bed to enjoy a fantastic night’s rest.

So until tomorrow when I will relate an amazing storey about Herman and Cindy’s son Luke to you, stay well, and keep all children safe.
Caring regards from

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

To register (new users) or login (existing users) to leave a comment on this or any other blog, select one of the following:

REGISTER

LOGIN