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May '10

Day 221: Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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My updated itinerary for Namibia and Botswana, to the end of the tour.

The PROPOSAL TO THE PRESIDENT for your perusal.

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 after a magnificent nights sleep, in-spite of what occurred yesterday with the loss of my GPS, I thanked Jacques de Jager, the General Manager of the magnificent Protea Hotel Pelican Bay-Walvis Bay for his kind and generous support to the ‘Buddy and Me’ project and headed into town to meet all the staff of the Beares store in Walvis Bay.

<i>Jacques de Jager outside the <b>Protea Hotel Pelican Bay</b></i>

Jacques de Jager outside the Protea Hotel Pelican Bay

Yesterday, being a public holiday meant that only half the staff was in the store, and so I delayed my talk and photo of them until this morning when I could get to meet and chat to the entire staff. I had a great and informative chat with them and received some interesting comments and feed back on the situation, or rather how the public in Namibia perceive the situation to be here, I’m afraid it’s not good.

<i>A really friendly bunch of people at the <b>Beares</b> store in Walvis Bay, led by the really friendly, always smiling Michael, whose standing in the front, smiling as usual</i>

A really friendly bunch of people at the Beares store in Walvis Bay, led by the really friendly, always smiling Michael, whose standing in the front, smiling as usual

I stopped off at the police station; initially my intention was to meet with Reinette Cronje who, when I had last met with her here on the 26th May 2006 on the ‘African Odyssey’ project, was a Warrant Officer and was Unit Commander of the ‘Woman and Child Protection Unit’. I was informed that she had been promoted and transferred to the Swakopmund division two years ago, but I did get the opportunity to chat to a couple of policemen and woman while at the station and can confirm that in their opinion, child rape has escalated significantly and that they are of the opinion that the route the Namibian government has chosen to take with regard to the justice system, which is based on the same system our South African government is presently on, has created this situation. This, as I have already said, is very sad for me, as three years ago following my visit to this country; I believed Namibia, along with Botswana, was on the right road, with harsh, deterrent punishments being handed out.

I drove the misty, sandy but truly spectacularly lovely flat road, through huge sand dunes, 33 kilometres of it, back to Swakopmund where my first stop was at the Beares store where I met up with Rennet van Zyl the store manager who has just returned from her holiday and much needed and deserved rest. After a brief chat with the staff and a photo, I headed out for the police detective unit close by.

<i>Meet the staff of <b>Beares</b> Swakopmund – Rennet right up front looking well rested and ready for action</i>

Meet the staff of Beares Swakopmund – Rennet right up front looking well rested and ready for action

My visit to the detective unit and meeting with, now Inspector Reinette Cronje, proved to be as rewarding as I had hoped and had anticipated it would be. She provided me with some really interesting facts on what has transpired in Namibia with not only the child rape situation in the country, but with crime in general, and as I have already said, I am really disappointed to hear that the Namibian government has been influenced by the South African governments ‘system’ with regard to their approach to justice and punishment in particular of criminals.

I was told of one specific case in which a man was convicted of the rape of a nine year little girl and was sentenced to a measly 7 years in jail. After four years he was released due to the fact that he was diagnosed with cancer. However his ‘medical condition’ did not stop him being charged 8 months later for the rape of a five year old little girl. So if he had been kept in prison and had served his sentence as was handed down by the court originally, the State could have saved a little five year old girls life from being totally destroyed. I am afraid if I was the father of that child I would have taken the State to task and sued them for so much money that my daughter would be a multimillionaire for the rest of her life, not that the money can restore her dignity and erase the disgusting and humiliating punishment she had been subjected to by this savage.

I was also told by a few police officials I had the opportunity to meet and have candid chats with, that the system, as is happening in South Africa, is failing the community, in that criminals, not only child rapists, but criminals across the board are in a “No loose’ situation. They turn to crime because it’s easier making a living this way, not to mention more rewarding, and should they get caught they don’t mind being sent to prison because life in prison is easier and better than life outside.

In prison they receive three meals a day, it’s very seldom, if at all, that they would get fed and served nogal, three meals a day out on the streets. They also get the opportunity to get paid for certain ‘jobs’ they do for the prison and police staff. The proof of this is in the fact that in both South Africa and Namibia, the prisons are full to capacity and billions of Rands are being spent to make bigger and better equipped prison, sorry that should be ‘Correctional Services facilities’. If going to prison was so bad, how come so many are committing crime and in thousands of cases committing crime again and again after having served time in prison to get back there? If being sent to prison was a deterrent and criminals where forced to under go harsh punishment sentences, as is done in the UAE, Saudi Arabia etc, we would not need to spend billions of Rands on building bigger prisons.

While driving around Swakopmund, I often passed this beautiful old building and did not pay much attention to the writing on the wall which is slightly hidden by schrubs, but on mentioning it to one of the Beares staff he pointed out that this is in fact the cities prison, and has been since 1901.

<i>How’s this for a lovely building, 109 years old and still looking good and going strong</i>

How’s this for a lovely building, 109 years old and still looking good and going strong

Eventually I finished my visits and chats with as many people as I could meet in Swakopmund today, and this included people who approached me in the shopping centres and one shop in particular where I popped in to enquire about the possibility of obtaining a new GPS, unfortunately the cost, because they did not have a basic model, only the upgraded one at R2 500-00 which at this stage is way out of my dwindling budget. So I then returned to this magical place called ‘Footprints’ where the owner, Loraine Cooper kindly provided me with another nights sponsored accommodation.

Before leaving the Beares store, Rennet, the store manager invited me to supper with her and her sister Belinda who was also previously a Beares staff member and is now in the mattress and bed business with the brother Basil with their ‘Brothers’ mattress manufacturing business. I will be staying with Basil and Hannerie again in Okahandja on Thursday night, but tonight I had a lovely dinner at the Light House restaurant with two lovely ladies and by the way the Light House restaurant and complex is soon to be pulled down for the development of a new and exciting waterfront in the area.

Before signing off, I just want to elaborate on what a lot of people would regard as a small issue, but I believe it is something which makes ‘Footprints’ the magical place it is, and that is the fact that on every wall in the place there are hand painted absolutely beautiful pictures, and every room is different.

Here’s just two –

<i>one from the bathroom</i>

one from the bathroom

<i>and one from my room</i>

and one from my room

The room also have their own balcony with a starway up to the roof balcony which has a spectacular view of the coast and other surrounding areas.

<i>The balcony and stairway system to the roof balcony, I showed pictures of the roof balcony in yesterdays blog</i>

The balcony and stairway system to the roof balcony, I showed pictures of the roof balcony in yesterdays blog

So now for a good nights sleep and then tomorrow morning I will be heading out of this beautiful city of Swakopmund. Whenever I have been interviewed by the media and in chts with individuals, I have often been asked, “After having travelled extensively through Africa, what area do you consider to be the best”, and every time, without hesitation I have confirmed that there are four and those are:
1) Swakopmund
2) Walvis bay
3) Lake Malawi district
4) Port St Johns

Not necessarily in that order as they are all four beautiful places.

So as I said, it’s now time for a good nights rest, so ‘Buddy and Me’ will say good night, stay well and keep all children safe, until next I get to be able to connect to the internet, cheers.

Caring regards from
‘Buddy and Me’ (Steve Heath)
Don’t forget to click on my ‘Proposal to the President’ and read about my prosed olution to stopping the rape of children and send your comments to me via my email address: steve@buddyandme.co.za

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