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Aug '09

Day 13: Friday, 14 August 2009

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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Beares Maxwell Street (Empangeni)

Beares Maxwell Street (Empangeni)

Beares Plaza Sanlam Centre

Beares Plaza Sanlam Centre

So today I spent the day with the Beares people of Empangeni. First it was with the manager of the Maxwell Street store, Kenneth Msomi and his staff which was followed by the ‘old’ manager, and by that I mean the retiring manager Harold Barnard, who in fact retired today, and the incoming manager, Barry Lloyd (and by the way Barry is a woman and a very stunning woman at that), and they are at the Beares Plaza Sanlam Centre store. I got to meet a lot of woman at the Maxwell Street store and these included ladies from the Richards Bay Social Development/ Department of Social Welfare, the Nkosi Thobile & Ngiba Zanele Social Workers for the Lower Umfolozi Service Point in Ngwelezang as well as teachers from the Sigisi Primary School in Empangeni. If you are wondering, yes I did write all those names down and did not remember them by heart.

My chat with these ladies proved to be very interesting and lasted a little over two hours. The main topic of discussion was actually pretty similar to the ones I had had on my way back from Stanger yesterday when I had decided to take the old North Coast Road back to Richards Bay (as opposed to the expensive toll highway) and had stopped at two large Spaza shopping centres along the way to chat to the local communities about child rape in the districts. I have been told on many occasions that doing this sort of thing could place me in a lot of danger and in fact one guy came up to me as I was leaving the one spaza centre and said “You must be a very brave man to travel all over in this funny little car all alone talking about this bad subject in these remote areas” and then promptly asked for a lift to the next village.

The topic which was discussed was related to a question I had asked the women who were standing holding little kids and babies hands, and that was, “What should happen to the man that rapes that little girl/boy.” All immediately responded by pulling their finger across their throats and said “He must die.” My next question was “And if it is your husband or your brother or your husband’s brother?” and suddenly there was this look of confusion on all the faces and a lot of hums and aarrs. A few stuck by their “He must die” decision but by far the majority suddenly seemed to change their story. And this is where our biggest problems lie, particularly with child rape in South Africa. When it’s a stranger then he must be punished big time, but when it’s someone close to us then it’s a different story. Unfortunately this is not only applicable to child rape but crime in general. We have great laws/legislation but when Joe Soap or I break the law, like having a few beers and driving the car, when we are stopped by the cops the book is thrown at us and we are in big XXX (trouble), or when we commit fraud (like 27 counts) and murder someone we are thrown in jail and the key is thrown down the gutter. But when celebrities and ‘buddies’ in arms commit these offences then the ‘law’ looks the other way and all attempts are made to have the matter hushed up/technicalities raised and the culprits walk free.

We as the parents and adults of this amazing country of ours have got to realize that the safety and wellbeing of our children has got to take priority over all else. And when someone, anyone, be it a father, brother or uncle, rapes or sexually abuses our child, no matter what the repercussion are, we have got to report the matter and support the child by allowing the law to take it’s course. The reason why we are seeing humungous increases in the number of child rapes taking place on a daily basis, particularly by family members, is because they are getting away with it.

There was quite a bit more we chatted about today but right now I am feeling pretty ill and immediately after forwarding this up date to Gail Vyvyan-Day back in Germiston who kindly sits up until all funny hours of the evening/early morning waiting for me to send her my daily diary to up date my blog (you see I’m an absolute idiot when it comes to computers and so I am unable to do my blog myself, so I write my diary and send it in e-mail form and she posts it onto my blog). So Gail, thank you for all your hard work – not to mention late hours waiting for my diary to arrive). But I will write more about my chat with the ladies of the places with long names tomorrow.

Oh! By the way, before I sign off, today; after having interrupted Monica Bailey and Peter De Bruyns lives with whom I spent the last four nights with in Richards Bay, I decided to move to the Richards Bay Caravan Park to give them a bit of a break. I must say that the Richards Bay Caravan Park is a very lovely park with absolutely lovely facilities (rather expensive for my meagre budget), but unfortunately they got the prize for being the first caravan/camping park in all my travels of Africa, 60 odd thousand kilometres of it, who would not assist me by sponsoring my camp site. According to the owners, “They have exhausted their charity services for the year”, and so insisted that if I wanted to camp in the park; which unfortunately is the only camping facility in Richards Bay, I would have to pay like everyone else. I mean it’s not like the place is full and I was depriving them of income, in fact after my walk around the camp I don’t think there are more than about 18 – 20 fellow campers. But let’s not get deterred by that, according to Solidarities’ report, 580 kids were raped today, so there are 580 kids in South Africa with much bigger problems than me. So to those kids, my heart goes out to you – hang in there.

Until next time, Buddy and I wish you all well
Caring regards
Buddy and Me

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