Posted by Julia
Categories: Buddy and Me
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The PROPOSAL TO THE PRESIDENT for your perusal.
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So as I said in my last blog, my visit to Fort Beaufort was an experience to remember. Not only is this beautiful town filled with history, but it is also populated by incredibly friendly people. I thoroughly enjoyed the drive from Queenstown via Whittlesea (Sada) and Seymour; these being small settlement towns along the route to Fort Beaufort; but Fort Beaufort is a town I had, believe it or not, never visited before. On scrutinising the map while planning project 3 I was shocked to discover that there was actually a town in South Africa which I have never visited and so I decided a visit to this magical little farming town was a must.
On arriving in Fort Beaufort I immediately headed for the Von Der Decken Hardware store where I met Doug Von der Decken, also a Tabler – 41er, and the lady who had been talking to me via cell phone and emailing details of her plans for my visit to Fort Beaufort for the passed few weeks, Doug’s lovely and charismatic wife Bernadine.
For the past few days, in fact since I had left Pinetown on the 10th of January, Buddy was showing his aggravation for having been left behind in Pinetown while I had returned home to Jo’burg, over the festive period nogall, by not retaining a charge to the battery and so in the mornings or after he had stood for a short period of time, not start and so I had to have a push.
On arriving outside Doug’s hardware store in Fort Beaufort and meeting him and Bernadine, I explained my predicament and said that I would definitely need to find a Willard battery outlet soon because Buddy’s battery, I was sure, needed to retire to ‘pastures green’ and the fact that it had been in Buddy for 5 years was absolutely amazing. The usual life of a battery, I am told, is between 2 and three years, so five years was quite a feat and hopefully based on this incredible feat I could convince a Willard Battery outlet to sponsor me a new battery.
Without any further discussion Doug summonsed his mechanic who tested the battery, confirmed that it was “cooked” and before I could say “Stop child rape” a new battery was fitted and Buddy was starting like a Formula One Ferrari on the starting line, actually even better than that, more like a McLaren. So Doug you have mine and Buddy’s eternal gratitude and thanks.
Bernadine had made arrangements for me to do a talk at two schools in the area, one being a junior school for grades 1 – 7, St Josephs School Newtown, and a high school for grades 8 – 12 the Winterberg High school. So as soon as Buddy was purring like a pussy cat, oh hell I shouldn’t say that because somehow, somewhere he will extract his aggravation and aggression out on me again for calling him a pussy cat, rather make that a lion, we headed for the first school where I got to chat to a large group of kids who thought Buddy was just amazing, mmmm with me just that ‘Me’ part of the show.
Here I am giving a talk about child abuse in general, as well as a detailed talk about the rape and sexual abuse of children to a very attentive group of kids, this following an introduction by the school head master Mr. Owen Golden. It was such a glowing introduction that at one stage I thought he was introducing someone else.
And of course we couldn’t keep Buddy out of the occasion.
Now I must tell you that following the last three months of consistent rain, with both ‘Buddy and Me’ starting to feel like ducks, the last 6 days of extreme heat was telling. While I was talking, the sweat, not perspiration, because that’s another thing entirely, this was pure down and dirty sweat, was pouring out of me at a mean rate and my shirt was sopping wet.
My talk at the St Josephs School had taken longer than envisaged, Bernadine unfortunately didn’t know that when I start talking on the subject of child rape I never shut up and can go on and on for hours and so we had to make a hasty departure and head for the Winterberg High School with a speed, if you can call the pace at which Buddy moves “a speed”.
The talk at this school went very well, if I say so myself, and the young students were very attentive and, I think, were very interested in the talk and details of what was happening in South Africa with regard to the rape and sexual abuse of children.
Before starting my talk I discovered, to my pleasure, that the vast majority of these students are extremely bright, they by far mostly support the SHARKS, and a small portion of them, those who still need to be educated, support the Bulls rugby team.
The students getting acquainted with Buddy. Can you imagine the embarrassment ‘Buddy and Me’ would have experienced if Doug had not kindly provided Buddy with a new battery and if I had had to ask the kids to give Buddy a push?
To reach the Winterberg High School you have to travel over a single gauge bridge called ‘The Victoria Bridge’. This bridge is, I am told, the oldest bridge still in use in South Africa. It was built in the early 1830’s and believe me, after going down to the river to inspect it, will probably out last most of the modern bridges built in our country.
The Victoria Bridge.
During the afternoon while writing up blog 14, Doug and Bernadine’s son Ross who was present at my talk at the high school and who is also a fishing fanatic, popped his head into my garden cartage which the Von Der Decken family had kindly hosted me accommodation in, and asked if I wanted to join him on a fishing ‘expedition’ to a ‘fish-filled’ dam near by. Obviously I could not pass up such an opportunity and so that is the true reason why my last blog (14) was cut short. Unfortunately in-spite of the fact that Ross had never left the dam ‘fish-less’ in the past, my usual jinx reared its ugly head and yep you guessed it – we left ‘fish-less’.
After an excruciatingly hot day, the temperature, according to Buddy’s sophisticated thermometer, reached a mind blowing 46°, I headed for the Country Club where I was invited as guest speaker at the ‘Speakers Club’ hosted by Round Table with Bernadine as a passenger and because it had started raining she decided that Buddy was definitely not her idea of the right mode of transport with which to undertake a trip through Africa in.
The talk went very well and I think everyone present was pretty shocked by the details I provided them with in regard to the rape of child rape in South Africa which I have obtained through my extensive research project over the past 5 years.
After the delicious dinner and talk, which by the way took about two hours, I was pinned by members of the local Round Table and presented with the Tables banner. From Left: Doug Von Der Decken, George Georgiou, yours truly, Devan de Lange and Rod Ford.
During a chat with Doug I learnt that his mother, at the age of 66, had been brutally murdered by a 19 year old thug whose mother worked as a domestic servant for the Von der Dicken family and that Doug’s mother had practically raised him from birth and educated him. Evidently after Doug’s father’s death, Doug’s mother had continued living in the house by herself. This thug, who as I said, she had raised and educated, together with SIX of his friends, broke in one night in 2002 and brutally murdered her. He’s currently serving a prison sentence, but with our current system who knows how long he will be in prison, or rather our ‘Correctional Services Facility’ for, probably furthering his education Doug’s mother paid for, by obtaining a university degree in the process, this time at the tax payers expense.
Thursday (20th January) I was in no great hurry to leave Fort Beautfort because I only had to be in King Williams Town at 1pm and as it was only about 80 kilometres away on what I was told and proved to be a very good road I left the Von Der Decken residence at a quarter to 11 and headed for the Von Der Decken Hardware store to bid Doug and Bernadine farewell.
Meet the truly friendly and hospitable family of the Von Der Decken’s and one of the family dogs, and the flea that was bothering him.
However leaving this lovely town was not so easy because Bernadine decided that I could not visit Fort Beautfort without at least visiting the Martello Tower. This is just one of the many historical sites to be found in the Fort Beaufort area and so without further ado I was bundled into Bernadine’s car and driven to the site of this historically packed site. The tower was built in the early 1830’s and was in fact built in the wrong place by mistake. The British military engineers were supposed to build it in Port Beaufort on the West Coast but got their information messed up and ended up building it at Fort Beaufort instead, hence the fact that it has no holes for rifles, only windows and has a cannon built on top of it which swivels 360 degrees for coastal protection.
The tower was connected to the near-by officer’s quarters as well as the military barracks which were erected about 1 kilometre away and which happens to be directly across the road from the Von Der Decken residence by under ground tunnels.
Standing on the steps of this fort/battle tower, I could not help thinking how soldiers had climbed those steps over 180 years ago and had carried out battles from it. The holes you can see in the photo above my head were holes from which soldiers could shoot through at anyone trying to climb the steps.
This is the original cannon carriage, the original cannon is laying on the ground. The cannon carriage could swivel 360 degrees around the roof of the tower.
In this photo you can see the tower as well as the near-by officers quarters which are now, I think, municipal offices of some kind.
On returning to the Von Der Decken Hardware, Doug could not let me leave without showing me a bit of his own family history.
This is a 1936 Ford hearse which Doug is very proud of because his grandfather bought it brand new in1936 and started the family funeral services business with, Von Den Decken Funeral Services which is still doing extremely well along with a number of other enterprises they own in the area. Incredibly this vehicle is very popular with students from the high school as a means of transport to the matric farewell dance.
Eventually I extricated myself from Fort Beaufort but promised myself I will return! and headed for King Williams Town. On approaching the small town of Alice while en-route to King Williams Town, I once again saw one of the government’s housing project which is, I as well as many other individuals believe, contributing to the rape and sexual abuse of children. These houses are very small and only have one room in which the parents sleep together with their kids.
During my travels I have been told by many individuals that this situation is fuelling the raping of children by children because of the fact that young boys are forced to sleep in the same room as their parents and so are forced to watch and listen to their parents partaking in sex and because their hormones are running rampant, take these frustrations out on other kids.
It’s all very well to provide low cost housing to the masses, but hell come on, one room for the entire family to sleep in, that’s a recipe just looking for trouble.
I arrived in King Williams Town dead on time, and although I had not experienced any rain during the drive, it was very cloudy and blew gales. I had a chat with the Beares staff in King Williams Town and also had the opportunity to chat to a few people I met in the town who believe that the raping of children in the King Williams Town area has reached epidemic proportion and also believe that the local authorities, in the form of the police and social workers in particular are not too perturbed about it, once again believing that they have “much bigger problems to deal with”?
I had intended staying over in King Williams Town, but with the weather brewing up and the fact that I had to be in Mndantsane, which is the second biggest township in South Africa, second only to Soweto, the next day, I decided that I would rather push through to Gonubie which is situated about 20 kilometres or so north of East London, also because Mndantsane is a lot closer to Gonubie than King Williams Town, but more about my visit to Mndantsane in my next blog.
So with that I am going to bid you farewell for now, stay well, keep safe and keep all children safe.
Caring regards from
‘Buddy (The Beach Buggy)
Me (Steve Heath)’
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