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Tue
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Mar '10

Day 193: Friday, 19 March 2010

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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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.

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)

For the past few years I have been boasting of the fact that since leaving Cape Town in November 2005 on our crusade ‘Searching for a Solution to Stopping the Rape and Sexual Abuse of Children’ in South Africa which has involved ‘Buddy and Me’ driving almost 80 000 kilometres through Africa, we have never experienced a puncture. This to me, and many individuals who can appreciate this fete, is absolutely amazing and I might add, almost unbelievable, but it is true.

So this morning when I was woken by my host, Captain Faan Fourie who broke the news that Buddy’s left front wheel was flat, I was in a mild state of shock. I mean after travelling through all that nasty terrain of African countries north of us and never getting a puncture how could Buddy get one here in Cape Town while travelling on these tremendous roads which the government has spent billions of Rands on to impress the foreign guests expected in South Africa for the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

<i>Me, as in the ‘Me’ part of <b>‘Buddy and Me’</b> changing Buddy’s tyre for the first time ever on this project</i>

Me, as in the ‘Me’ part of ‘Buddy and Me’ changing Buddy’s tyre for the first time ever on this project

The next bit of news was even more confusing. After checking the tire over in his workshop at Melkbos Motor Spares and Tyres, Wynand Fourie confirmed that no puncture or leaking valve could be detected. The tyre was pumped up and appeared to retain its pressure throughout the day today, so my incredible run of luck without a puncture still stands.

Fortunately ‘Buddy and Me’ only had one Beares store to visit today and that was the Bellville store which is situated the closest to where I am staying in Bellville, so there was no getting lost today. I had a really great time chatting with the magic people of Beares in Bellville and eventually got out of the store a little after 1pm.

<i><b>Beares</b> Bellville staff, a really great bunch of people</i>

Beares Bellville staff, a really great bunch of people

<i>The store manager, Marti De Waal with salesman Wanda Hele and a generous guy named Zahied who spent the morning handing out the <b>‘Buddy and Me’</b> project flyers all over town</i>

The store manager, Marti De Waal with salesman Wanda Hele and a generous guy named Zahied who spent the morning handing out the ‘Buddy and Me’ project flyers all over town

I can’t remember if I mentioned in previous blog’s, but at the time of commencing the first, ‘African Odyssey’ project ‘Searching for a Solution to the Stopping of the Rape of Children’, I started a book entitled ‘Beares Managers Comments Book’ in which all the store mangers of the Beares stores I visit write their comments in, and this book has become an amazing book to read. The comments made by the managers and in many instances the general staff of the stores is awe-inspiring for me, and after having had a ‘bad day’ of which I might add are very few and far between, after reading the comments in this book has put me back on top of the world.

The store manager of the Bellville Beares store, Marti De Waal, wrote something in my book and placed a card with some very powerful words in it which I would like to share with every one; it starts with a small saying which has been stuck up on the space above Buddy’s windscreen for sometime now which reads:

‘What’s planted in the heart, takes root in the soul’ and goes on to say “We deeply appreciate your caring for the victims of this unmanly crime ‘rape’. Good luck with everything you are doing. We wish you success on your journey. God bless!! Signed: Marti and the rest of the staff of the Beares Bellville store”.

The second one are the words quoted in a card she placed in the book entitled:

Children Learn What They Live

If a child lives with criticism,
He learns to condemn.

If a child lives with hostility,
He learns to fight.

If a child lives ridicule,
He learns to be shy.

If a child lives with shame,
He learns to feel guilty.

If a child lives with tolerance,
He learns to be patient.

If a child lives with encouragement,
He learns confidence.

If a child lives with praise,
He learns to appreciate.

If a child lives with fairness,
He learns justice.

If a child lives with security,
He learns faith.

If a child lives with approval,
He learns to like himself.

If a child lives with acceptance and friendship,
He learns to love the world.

Very profound and true words of wisdom, so thanks for that Marti and the staff of Beares in Bellville, I hope there are many parents out there that will take head.

So now it’s on with factor 4 of what I believe needs to be done to stop the raping and sexual abuse of children (As in children in the age group of birth to 12 years of age)

Factor 4
This factor involves the South African Police Service (SAPS). During my interviews with the hundreds of police officers and members of the ‘service’ I have chattered to, I always ask the question, “Why is South Africa experiencing the ridiculously low conviction rate of between 4 and 6 percent that we do”. Invariably their response is, “Because 1) The prosecutors employed by the State to prosecute in most cases are not as qualified or experienced as the defence counsel is which in most cases is appointed and paid for by the State”.

I have asked many senior prosecutors around the country as well as magistrates in our Regional Courts where all child rape cases are heard the same question and their response – which I will include in factor 5 of my proposal to stop child rape, our court structure and procedures – is somewhat different and I believe closer to the truth, and this is the fact that the experience and ability of the police official taking the initial statement from a child in a rape case as well as the police officials ability to obtain the necessary evidence in the initial stages of the reporting of a child rape, leaves much to be desired.

Probably the biggest problem related to the fact that South Africa is experiencing a ridiculously low conviction rate of between 4 and 6 percent can largely be attributed to the bad decision to close the ‘Child Protection Unit’ (CPU) and to form the ‘FCS’ unit. Unfortunately, according to the information provided by police officers all over South Africa, the ‘FCS’ unit was subsequently disbanded in March 2009, since when total confusion has reigned as to whether the unit is officially operating or not.

In some areas I have travelled through, I have been told by senior officers that the ‘FCS’ unit is fully operational and is functioning on the “Cluster system’. In other areas when I have asked to interview the officer commanding the ‘FCS’ unit, I have received a strange look and been told “The FCS unit has been disbanded”. I have also been told that the Provincial Commissioner for the Western Cape region, Commissioner Petros I think his name is, has “Defied the National Commissioners decision to disband the FCS unit and it is fully functional and operating in the Western Cape region.

The problem however, or so I am told, is that when budgets are needed to train staff for this unit, station commissioners who are making use of the FCS units are told that “No budget can be provided because officially the FCS unit does not exist”. I’m sure you can appreciate the confusion this state of affairs is creating, and when I have told senior officers that I am completely confused about the current situation regarding whether or not the FCS unit exists or not, I am told “Well Steve if you are confused, you must know how confused we are”.

I can fully appreciate the reasons behind the ‘powers that be’ in the police service to disband the ‘CPU’ and form the ‘FCS’ this being because the ‘CPU’ was exactly what the letters/words say “Child Protection Unit’ and did not incorporate the aspects of domestic violence, as in the rape of an adult woman or the beating/assault of a woman by her husband/spouse etc.

However what ‘the powers that be’ in the police service failed to identify is the fact that the investigation techniques needed to take a statement or to investigate the rape or assault of an adult woman is far different to the experience and qualifications needed to investigate or initialise a docket/statement taking from a child in the case of a small child having been raped.

For this reason I believe that it is essential that the ‘FCS’ unit is officially re-instated because we need the services of an ‘FCS’ unit, as in a unit which specialises and incorporates the investigation of domestic violence and sexual offences of adults and teenagers, however the ‘FCS’ unit must incorporate the services of a sub-unit namely a ‘Child Protection Unit’ which specialises in the initial statement taking and evidence gathering of a child rape case, (As in a child under the age of 12 years of age) after which it is investigated by a qualified member of the ‘FCS’ investigation team.

Furthermore I believe that it is essential, if our esteemed government is serious about stopping the rape and sexual abuse of our children, that the members of this ‘specialised CPU’ is based at all Thuthuzela Care Centres and are available 24/7. These members of the police service must be trained in the art of child psychology, statement taking, which the NPA (National Prosecuting Authority) should be involved in with regard to the training of, as well as being involved in the training of these members of the SAPS with regard to evidence gathering at the initial stages of the reporting of the rape of children.

And so ends factor 4 of 6 of what I believe needs to be done to stop the raping of children in our society. I look forward to receiving comments and opinions on my proposal of what needs to be done to stop the raping of children in South Africa, so please email me with your comments.

So until tomorrow, keep your feet on the ground, but reach high for the stars, and above all, yep that’s it, keep all children safe.

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

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