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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.
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So I woke to another bright and sunny day here in Grootfontein. After a lovely breakfast made by Suranda, owner of ‘The Courtyard Guesthouse’ where I am being kindly hosted accommodation, I headed into town and visited the Beares staff. The manager, Ray de Bruin, arranged a meeting for me with a detective named Helena Rheent who is involved in the investigation of rape of both children and adult woman. When I walked into her office it turned out that she had in fact spoken to me on my last visit to Grootfontein on the 15th May 2006, four years and two days ago to the day.
Amazingly she recognised me and immediately on my enterring her office reminded me that she had in fact spoken to me on my last visit, only on checking my ‘Book of Goodwill’ did I see her name and the comments she had written four years ago, quite incredible. So this was great, I at least met someone who was prepared to talk to me.
She confirmed that the Namibian government is supporting the mothers who report the rape of their children, particularly in the case where the rapist is the father or step father etc, and this support is in the form of a grant of about 100 – 120 Namibian Dollars per child in the family per month (which is equal to the same amount of South African Rands or I think roughly 14 US Dollars).
Unfortunately she confirmed that in spite of this, the mothers are still not reporting the rape of their children by fathers and stepfathers because according to them the grant is not sufficient enough to look after the family when compared to the money brought in by the father/stepfather. As is occurring in South Africa, the fathers and in particular the stepfathers, by far, form the greatest number of culprits responsible for the rape of their own children.
Helena confirmed that the police very seldom get a report of a ‘child’ rape (Child being under the age of 12 years of age) and that the cases which take up most of their time is the rape of teenage girls and adult woman, and that these are almost always alcohol induced with the teenagers and woman partaking in the drinking and celebrating prior to ‘the rape’. But once again the fact that the police do not get many ‘child’ rape cases reported, is not because they are not occurring, it’s purely because they are not being reported.
One of the other issues I discussed with her was the conviction rape of child rape cases and she confirmed that this is “pretty good” and that there have been some reasonably good sentences being passed down by the courts over the last few years and these included sentences averaging between 10 and 15 years imprisonment. However she went on to say that unfortunately at the celebration of important days in Namibia, the government, as is done in South Africa, celebrates by granting amnesty to convicted prisoners and releasing them back into society long before their sentences are up, and these include child rapists.
On this point we discussed comments which were made by various Judges and Magistrates in South Africa who I have had the pleasure of chatting to over the last few years, who stated that they do not know why they are required to hand down a sentence on a convicted felon, because whatever the sentence is that they as Judges and Magistrates pass down is over ruled by the parole board and the Correctional Services board, and so why don’t they as Judges and Magistrates merely listen to the case and hand down a verdict and let the parole board and Correctional Services board decide on how long the convicted felon will stay in prison, and so based on the current system, both of us agreed with the Judges and Magistrates on this point.
The final point of discussion was surrounding the fact that there are no support facilities for child rape victims in Grootfontein. According to Helena, a child rape victim has to be taken to the Tsumeb to a small SOS NGO in Tsumeb for help. Incredible, so this proves that there is a great need for a ‘Thuthuzela Care Centre’ system as described in my ‘Proposal to the President – A Solution to the Rape and Sexual Abuse of Children’ in Namibia, because it is not only here in Grootfontein that I have been told of this shocking situation.
After my interesting chat with Helena, I returned to the Beares store where I had a chat with the staff and was presented with their comments in my ‘Beares book’ as well as a gift, a lovely pen and pencil set. Thanks guy’s that was really amazing, my first gift from a Beares store staff.
I was invited by a lady who was walking passed the Beares store to pop into her office later for a chat. Her name is Mrs Kayinga and she is a registered Social Worker and works out of the State Hospital here in Grootfontein, so at 4pm I popped into the hospital for our chat, and what a chat it turned out to be.
Firstly, this is one amazing woman and in my humble opinion should be in government, not sitting in an office here in Grootfontein doing social worker functions; she should be heading up the Social Worker system. What she told me totally blew my mind. Apparently the government here in Namibia is still working on the ‘old’ 1960 Children’s act and it has never been up-dated. The only legislation which has been up-dated since Namibia gained independence in 1991 is the ‘Child Status Bill’ which mainly covers the issues of guardianship and inheritance.
There is no support facilities as in support structures providing child rape victims with professional counselling and in fact there are only approximately 100 registered social workers in the entire country. All child rape victims in fact have to go to Windhoek from where the only NGO in the country, namely ‘PEACE’ operate from. There are other small organisations such as the one in Tsumeb which I mentioned earlier in this blog, but the services provided are not what they should be.
One of the topics we discussed at length is the fact that parents all over Namibia (and this includes South Africa and all the other countries of Africa as well) are still selling their young daughters off to older men for ‘Labolla’ (payment), and these young children, girls, start at the tender age of 10 years of age, and the governments of all of the African countries are accepting this, claiming that it’s their “culture”. If you want to read my take on this ‘culture’ storey you should read my blog for the 23 march (Day 197). But they can call it what they like, but it remains human trafficking in its worst form, ‘Child Trafficking’.
So my message to the governments of Africa is: “You complain, and to the rest of the world appear to be supporting the fight against human trafficking in the form which involves the stealing of human beings and taking them across the countries borders to Europe or wherever they are removed to for purposes of prostitution etc, but the worst form of human trafficking, child trafficking, is happening right under your noses in your own countries, with your blessing and disguising it by saying that it’s the peoples culture, shame on you”.
Following my really interesting chat with Mrs. Kayinga, I drove through Grootfontein’s Main Street in order to reach ‘The Courtyard Guesthouse’ where as I said I am kindly being hosted for my stay in the town, and unfortunately it was peak hour so the traffic was chaotic.
The local newspaper phoned and asked if I could e-mail them the details of the project and a photo, because unfortunately they had been too busy during the day to meet with me for an interview and to get a photo, obviously there are some really exiting things happening in Grootfontein, so I got the big Beares bear out and had this photo taken with the bear, the store manager, Ray de Bruin and yours truly).
I was just starting to write about another subject which was raised in a conversation today, but unfortunately I just received a call from May in Jo’burg who informed me that my other good buddy, my Boer Bull lion of a dog, Buster, was found dead in his kennel when she arrived home from work, apparently from a heart attack. So I am going to stop my blog now as I just don’t feel up to writing any longer.
But what I want to say is, Buster my boy I know you have been suffering for a while with your front left leg and other problems, but you were a lion, a great big bear with a wonderful heart, and a wonderful companion, the worst thing you could ever do to anyone is lick them to death, in spite of the fact everyone was petrified of you. I will miss you my boy, but you are safe and out of pain now. God bless you my boy, and thank you for all the good times. To May, I’m sorry you had to find him like that and I’m sorry I couldn’t be there to bury him; my thoughts are with you too.
Caring regards from
‘Buddy and Me’ (Steve Heath)
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