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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.
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So today was a rather busy day with visits to two Beares stores and two Lubners stores. Fortunately they were all reasonably close together in the Mitchell’s Plain area. The first one was Beares in the Promenade Mall, the second was Beares in the West Gate Shopping Mall, the third was Lubners in the West Gate Shopping Mall and the final one which finished at almost 4 o’clock was the Lubners store in the Town centre. I had a great time chatting to all the staff of these friendly stores and learnt that the situation of child rape being perpetrated by children has increased dramatically over the past four years. We also discussed the issue surrounding the fact that a parent has not got the right to discipline a child and the impact of this on the crimes being perpetrated by children, and the fact that it is rumoured that government intends implementing legislation to hold a parent responsible for a child’s criminal activities.
On my drive to Mitchell’s Plain, I saw two road side bill boards which I need to share with you.
So having visited and spent some quality time with the friendly staff of Beares and Lubners in Mitchell’s Plain, it’s time to provide you with details of the next factor which I believe needs to be implemented to stop the raping of children in South Africa.
Factors 2 and 3: The reason I chose Buddy, my trusted mechanical stead and companion Beach Buggy as a means of transport for this project, was because he attracts an immense amount of public attention and attraction and I wanted to put child rape in everyone’s face. I have spent an enormous amount of time during the project in townships, villagers and rural areas, this being where the majority of child rape cases are occurring.
On the initial ‘African Odyssey – Searching For a Solution to Stopping the Rape and Sexual Abuse of Children’ project, I obtained the names of many South Africans to a research document in which they gave their opinion on what should be done to stop the raping of children in South Africa and the far majority, the majority of which were in the townships and rural areas of South Africa, stated that the death penalty should be applied to child rapists.
Unfortunately my research has shown that the death penalty, although being a ‘factor’ – as in a deterrent punishment – in stopping the rape of children, would not stop it on it’s own. The reason I say this is because whenever I have visited villagers, townships and other rural areas, immediately on entering the area and stopping outside a ‘Spaza’ shop, Buddy being the attention puller he is, as mentioned in my opening paragraph, attracts the attention of many kids who when they start climbing all over him attracts the attention of the adults of the area and very soon I have the attention of a horde of the local community.
After explaining who I am and what my mission in life is, I always note that there is a woman in the group who has a small child in hand and ask the question, “What do you believe should happen to the man who rapes that small child”, and the response I receive in probably 99.9% of the time is “He must die” and this is accompanied by the action of pulling her thumb across her throat, and invariably the other woman, as well as a lot of the men, confirm their agreement with nods of the head and shouts of “Yes he must die”.
My next question always throws the proverbial ‘Cat amongst the pigeons’ and that is, “But what if it is your husband or the child’s uncle, as in your brother or your husbands brother who rapes the child”, and that is when the whole thing changes. The response to this question usually brings the response of “Eish”, followed by the head turning in all directions with stares up at the sky.
When I ask “Why the change in heart”, I am told “But if he is arrested and locked up or killed, who is going to feed and clothe my children and pay the rent for the house”, and this is precisely where the problem lies and why we are experiencing the pathetically low reporting rate of between 15 and 18 percent for child rape in South Africa.
My next statement usually attracts the response which explains it all, and that is, “If we had a department (And this is a totally hypothetical situation because in South Africa we currently do not have such a department, although the government likes to ‘think’ we have) that should you report the rape and sexual abuse of your child to the police and if he was arrested and punished severely, as in a very long time in jail or even the death penalty, and this department made sure that you have food to feed your children and clothes for them and your children can continue to attend school and your rent is paid, as well as a department which will find you a job so that you can quickly become self-sufficient and look after your own family, what then. This statement is always met with big smiles and the response of “Then he must die”.
Initially when I undertook these discussions, I was quite surprised and in fact shocked at the woman’s responses and asked, “But don’t you love your husband”, and the response in the far majority of times is “If he rapes and hurts my child, then he can’t love my child or me, so he can die”. Very harsh words, but this is the crux of the matter. The mothers are, due to financial reasons, stuck between a ‘Rock and a hard place’ when it comes to reporting the rape of their children by fathers and other family members, who are currently perpetrating up to 90% of the child rape cases in South Africa.
For this reason Factors 2 and 3 in my proposal for a solution to stopping the rape of children involves the Departments of Social Development and its associated department, Welfare, being funded to the extent that they can provide the support structure needed to encourage mothers to report the rape of their children.
Legislation was introduced in the form of the ‘Sexual Offences Act 32 of 2007’ which includes the section which states that, ‘Any person who is made aware of the fact that a child has been sexually abused or raped and does not report it to the authorities, is guilty of an offence’. My discussions with police and court officials all over South Africa has revealed that not a single person has been charged under this section since it’s inception two and a half years ago and the explanation given to me by these officials is “They cannot apply the law because of the impact it would have on the family, as in mothers and children if the father is arrested and detained”. Please someone, help me out here, I fully appreciate the impact of a mother being arrested and charged for failing to report the rape of her child by a father, but please explain why was all the money and time spent in drawing up the section in the first place if it is not going to be applied? Surly government should have established a support structure for the mothers before producing legislation if they intended forcing them to report the rape of their child?
The manner in which I envisage the Departments of Social Development and that of the Welfare Department operating in the combating of child rape is therefore as such:
- Department of Welfare: On reporting the rape of a child, the mother should be provided with the necessary assistance with regard to food and clothing for her family – Definitely not in the form of a grant – Also the department of education must be involved to ensure that the child continues it’s schooling unhampered and that the rent is paid for to ensure that the families living standards are maintained.
- Department of Social Development: In this regard I have spoken with many influential business men and woman all over South Africa and all have agreed with my proposal and confirmed that their companies would be only to happy to support such an initiative in order to support the fight against child rape.
I believe that the Department of Social development should operate on the following basis. They should have a unit specialising in an HR capacity. This unit should have the details of every business and company committed to the fight against the rape and sexual abuse of children in the area in which the department operates. Each of these businesses would provide the department with details of vacancies and immediately on requiring assistance to provide employment for a woman/mother who has reported the rape of her child can benefit from this information. In this manner it would reduce the financial burden placed on the Welfare department and ensure that the mother becomes self sufficient and can support her family herself as quick as possible.
Obviously, and this will be discussed in a later factor, the rapist father/uncle must therefore not be granted bail, or if he is and our courts insist on continuing with this ridiculous situation , the section of the Sexual Offences Act 32/2007 which states that, ‘In the instance of child rape or domestic violence, the perpetrator, if this being the father, must be removed from the place of residence and he must find alternative accommodation’ must be applied strictly to the letter of the law. Not as is still occurring, the mother and child be removed to a ‘Place of safety’ and have their lives turned upside down again.
So that’s the basics of my proposal on factors 2 and 3 which I believe needs to be applied if our government is serious about stopping the rape and sexual abuse of children in South Africa.
So please contact me via my email address firstname.lastname@example.org with any comments you have on the subject.
Now all that’s left for me to say is, stay well, and keep all children safe.
Caring regards from
‘Buddy and Me’ (Steve Heath)
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