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Tue
22
Feb '11

Blog 24 – Buddy and Me – Project 3 (16th – 21st Feb 2011)

Posted by Julia

Categories: Buddy and Me

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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:

Beares
Lubners
Bobbi Bear Foundation (KwaZulu-Natal)
The Teddy Bear Clinic (Gauteng)
The TygerBear Foundation (Western Cape)
GRIP (Mpumalanga)
StepThru (Gauteng)

For months ‘Buddy and Me’ were subjected to incessant rain, day after day, and every-time I watched the weather reports on TV it showed that the Western Cape region was experiencing no rain. This of course is nothing unusual because the Western Cape’s rainfall is normally in winter, so with this in mind I was really looking forward to getting into the region and away from the rain. For a couple of weeks while traversing the Eastern Cape region and on entering the Western Cape region, the rain dissipated and I was subjected to some extreme heat, which of course I was happy with. Unfortunately on leaving Gansbaai, in lovely sunshine, I approached Hermanus, which is a mere 45 kilometres away from Gansbaai and the rain started and continued through the night and the next day.

Fortunately accommodation had been arranged for me by the management of the Protea Hotels with an associated hotel group called ‘African Pride Hotels, Lodges and Country Houses’ and the one which had so kindly come to ‘Buddy and Me’s’ assistance is the one in Hermanus called ‘Mosselberg – on grotto beach  . So instead of setting up camp in the rain I was settled comfortably for the next two days, and I mean comfortably, this is one incredibly lovely place. Check this out,

it could be regarded as small, with limited rooms, in fact only 5 of them, but which are very spacious, but the advantage of this limited accommodation is that one receives exceptional personalised service.

 

That’s Rina Crawford, the House-Keeping Manager on the right of the picture, and Mariette Van Den Bergh, the Chief Chef on her right. Unfortunately the General Manager, Linda Van Blommenstein had already left to start her well deserved holiday when I woke up to the fact that I had not taken a photo of the management team, so sorry Linda I hope I get one on the next trip around.

Thursday (17th Feb 2011) was spent driving in the rain, visiting firstly the police station and then the ‘Child Welfare South Africa’ office. At the police station I met a really nice guy in the form of Constable Mazuthu and meeting him was almost a replica of my meeting Constable Visser in Gansbaai. I entered the charge office and asked to see the person responsible for the stations ‘Victims Support Centre’ and Constable Mazuthu was standing on the other-side of the office and on hearing my request immediately came over and asked “How can I help you’. From then on he proceeded to, very proudly I might add, take me through the path a victim; or the mother of a child rape victim, would follow when reporting the rape or sexual abuse of a child.

This involved the removal of the victim and her/his mother from the public sector of the police station to the ‘Victim Support Centre’ where a report is obtained.

Here Constable Mazuthu is proudly showing me around the Hermanus Police Stations ‘Victim Support Centre’.

Constable Mazuthu confirmed Constable Vissers’ statement that since the inception of the well fitted out and child friendly centre, the reporting of rape, and in particular child rape, had defiantly increased. This obviously was music to my ears and once again proves my belief that if the Thuthuzela Care Centres are established properly and provide the essential services needed to support victims and mothers in cases of child rape it would be a major step in the right direction to encouraging mothers to report the rape and sexual abuse of their children, and in-fact I am confident that this will form 80% of the solution to stopping the rape and sexual abuse of children.

Constable Mazuthu then led the way in his police van while ‘Buddy and Me’ followed to the ‘Child Welfare South Africa’ offices close to the near-by township where I met the manager of the organisation Ms. Rina Louw and a Social Worker, Archie Mwamuka. We had an interesting and lengthy discussion on the rape of children and the factors contributing to this despicable crime and what needs to be done to stop it. Both agreed that my idea of ‘One-Stop’ support facilities being established at all provincial and regional hospitals on the ‘concept’ of the Thuthuzela Care Centres is a good one and would defiantly encourage mothers to report the rape of heir children, however Archie made an interesting comment on this point.

He commented that he agrees that: 1) One of the reasons why mothers are refusing to report the rape of their children is due to the extremely poor reporting procedures to be followed at the ‘majority’ of police stations around the country.

2) The fact that in the majority of cases the perpetrator is the biological father, step-father or uncle.

3) The obvious financial implications of reporting the rape in such cases and the father being imprisoned has a devastating impact on the family, the mother in particular.

4) However he believes that the major reason for mothers not reporting the rape and sexual abuse of their children is because in instances where the perpetrator is the father, step-father or uncle, the mother is placed under severe pressure by other family members to keep quiet because of the humiliation and disgrace the family will suffer should the father, step-father or uncle be charged and sent to prison. He believes that this situation is definitely causing more cases not to be reported, in this area, than the financial implications are, and asked how I believe this problem could be overcome, because no matter how good the support structure is, according to him, the mothers will still not report the rape of their children in these circumstances.

My response to this is simple and I believe that if this is the biggest reason why mothers are not reporting the rape of their children, in this area, then the solution is even easier than I though. My reasons for saying this is that our government, at a very large expense to the tax payers of South Africa, has promulgated legislation in the form of the ‘Sexual Offences Act 32 – 2007’ which states that “any person who is aware of the fact that a child has been raped or sexually abused and fails to report it to the authorities is guilty of an offence”, so, simple, apply what the authorities are always claiming to do with traffic offenders adopt a “zero tolerance” attitude just like they profess to do with traffic offenders and start prosecuting the people who stop mothers reporting the rape and sexual abuse of their children, irrespective who the culprit is.

On this point I gave them the following example:

Hypothetically, “If I and my four brothers, who are all married with families, in other words the ‘bread winners’ of their families, were driving and racing four fancy cars at 300 kilometres per hour down the N2 Highway and where trapped in a speed trap, the consequences of this being that there is no admission of guilt fine and the drivers are arrested immediately. The fact that we are all brothers in one family, and are the ‘bread winners’ would not dissuade the traffic officers from immediately arresting all five and delivering us all to the nearest police station where we would be charged and detained until such time as bail could be posted. The same would apply if all five were driving while under the influence of alcohol.

So my question is then “why then should the application of the law be different when a family puts pressure on a mother to stop her reporting the rape or sexual abuse of her child?” in order to put pressure on her to not report it is clear proof that they are aware of the rape of the child and so according to the Sexual Offences Act are compelled to report it, therefore it stands to reason they are guilty of an offence and should be charged. Case closed!

Rina Louw confirmed that although they do not get very many cases of child rape reported to them, this does not mean that it is not occurring on a large scale. She did however confirm that the largest part of their function is providing support to children who are being abused in the form of negligence and being abandoned. This once again makes my hair stand on-end, because once again, in-spite of fancy legislation, once again at the expense of the tax payers of South Africa, we are seeing parents getting away with blatant abuse of children and nothing happens to them. They enjoy the pleasures of ‘producing’ the children but expect the other hard working citizens to finance their children’s up-bringing while they sit back enjoying the benefits of the ‘child grants’ with no consequences to them. Perhaps our government should be seriously considering ‘Work-Farms/prisons for parents who neglect or abandon their children at which they produce food and clothing for the children. 

Constable Visser of the Gansbaai SAPS invited me to give a talk at the Pearly Beach Local Community Forum on Saturday, so Saturday morning found ‘Buddy and Me’ heading out of Hermanus for firstly Gansbaai where I met up with Constable Visser and then on to Pearly Beach which is about 25 kilometres further north.

I thoroughly enjoyed the talk/meeting and I sincerely hope I got my point across regarding the fact that if we, and by that I mean, the mothers in-particular want to stop the rape and sexual abuse of the children, it is imperative that they start reporting every single case and allow the police and justice system to take its course.

 

Buddy ‘strutting’ his colours next to the police cars outside the Eluxolweni Township Community Forum Centre.

Here I am stressing the point about reporting cases of child rape and sexual abuse.

Meet the dedicated members of the ‘Pearly Beach/Eluxolweni Township Community Forum, the only one missing is Constable Visser because she took the photo, but you can see her in the photos in blog 22.

After my talk, I had an interesting chat with Warrant Officer Kruger of the Gansbaai Police, who mentioned that they are experiencing a major problem with young girls, aged between 13 and 15 years of age, falling pregnant and all they are interested in is getting the paper work done with the Department of Community Development in order to obtain the governments child grant (R250-00 per month).

He believes, and I concur 100%, that it should be law that no paper work should be allowed to be undertaken by Social Development until such time as the rape has been reported to the police, because in order for a young girl of between 12 and 16 years of age to fall pregnant she must have been raped because ‘Act 32 -2007 The Sexual Offences Act’ states that no child under the age of 16 can consent to sex, so therefore her pregnancy was an act of rape (Statutory rape). Furthermore no paper work must be allowed to be undertaken unless she and her parents give their full support and assistance to the police in order to obtain a conviction of the rapist.

In addition to this, the same applies to clinics, hospitals and whoever else performs abortions on children under the age of 16. I find it absolutely ridiculous, but be that as it may, that our law permits a child from the age of 12 years of age, to under-go an abortion without her parents knowledge or consent. Warrant Officer Kruger and I both agreed that no abortion should be allowed to be carried out on a child between the ages of 12 and 16 years of age without the case first being reported to the police and a rape docket opened, and the child and her parents gieve their full co-operation to the police in their investigation in order to obtain a successful conviction of the rapist.  

When I returned to On-Rus (Hermanus), my campsite, I headed for the 7/11 Supermarket where the owners Patrick and his wife Sandra and son Craig sponsored me all the necessary ‘things’ for a braai, so thanks guys the braai was fantastic.

Check this out, my campsite with the fire almost ready to receive the chops and chicken (Peri-Peri), which went down exceptionally well with the potato wedges and French salad. I don’t know?, but I think Jammy Oliver would have been hard pressed to beat this!

I had intended spending Sunday relaxing with a fishing rod in one hand and a cold frosty in the other, but after dropping my washing off at a local Laundromat, the owner, a very kind lady by the name of Irene, especially opened her shop to help me with my washing. From there I got involved in a very serious case which involved the rape of a lady’s 2 year-old granddaughter by her drug addicted daughters boyfriend. The whole story is a really bad and sad one and because she and her husband had recently moved to Hermanus, to help the child, they did not have any local knowledge of the ‘system’. I had fortunately spent three days with the ‘system’ and so could help direct her through the route. To her and her husband, I sincerely hope the matter gets sorted out and that you guys can get on with your lives and I sincerely hope that the help I gave you will help get the child through the trauma and to be able to get on with hers’ as well as your lives.

Well my prayers had been answered for fine weather for the weekend and this morning (Monday morning) when I woke the sky looked pretty miserable and so I hurriedly packed before the rain could soak my tent and trailer contents, and headed out of the lovely Hermanus On-Rus Caravan and Camping Resort, but not before first thanking the Resort Manager, Rhyn Potgieter and his staff Dion Cupido and Mallony Swartz for their friendship and hospitality as well as support to the ‘Buddy and Me’ project.

 

Thanks guys I had a wonderful rest and time in your magic resort. (From left of picture, Rhyn, Mallony and Dion)

Before leaving On-Rus I had to make one more stop, and that was to thank Andre Hattingh and his wife Jenny, owners of the Goddard’s Pub and Grill, for their tremendous friendship and hospitality. The beer was always cold, the conversation ‘very entertaining’ and the rugby outstanding, particularly because the SHARKS beat the Cheetahs.

Unfortunately Jenny, I think, was still in bed fast asleep, but Andre braved the cold misty morning air. No sooner had I left On-Rus and travelled the 7 kilometres to pass through the town/city of Hermanus when the rain started, and it continued for the rest of the drive through to Robertson, 166 kilometres away.

Well that concludes this blog, so I will write about my visit to the sleepy little town of Robertson in my next blog. I have already heard some scary news about how the local SAPS handle reports of child rape here but I don’t want to write about it until I have had a chance to chat to the police about the allegations tomorrow.  

So until next I write, keep well, stay safe and above all KEEP ALL CHILDREN SAFE!

 

Caring regards from

‘Buddy (The Beach Buggy)

And

Me’ (Steve Heath)

Please send comments and opinions to: steve@buddyandme.co.za

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