Posted by Julia
Categories: Buddy and Me
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Firstly my apologies for posting this blog so late, but many things were happening in my life over the past couple of weeks which needed to be sorted out, but let me get on with the details. The week of the 14th to 18th of March found ‘Buddy and Me’ finishing our visits to all the Beares and Lubners stores in the Cape region with a visit to the Vredenberg Beares store, but on the way to the Protea Hotel in Saldahna where I was to be based for a few days while in the area I made a few stops along the way.
My first stop was in the township of Atlantis where I was really concerned about the attitude of the SAPS victim support centre, or rather the attitude of the policewoman who claimed to be in-charge of the centre, because her attitude was undoubtedly the worst I have encountered on the ‘Buddy and Me’ project to date and especially when considering that I have had nothing but praise for the SAPS ‘Victim Support Centres’ in the Western Cape region. However I will be revisiting this particular police station when I finally make my departure from Cape Town in a couple of week’s time.
I have often said that one of the privileges I have undertaking a project of this nature is the fact that I get to meet so many incredible people and on the road to Saldahna I was given the opportunity of meeting yet another incredible individual. While travelling along a long flat section of road, I noticed a cyclist heading towards me and could not help noticing the packed pannier bags strapped to the sides of the bike and so stopped and waited knowing that it had to be one of those crazy individuals undertaking a mammoth cycle tour. On approaching me the cyclist crossed over the road and stopped alongside Buddy and that was when I got a major shock, the cyclist turned out to be a woman!
So meet Helen Lloyd who left London on her bicycle two years ago and has cycled, mostly alone, through Europe and Africa to Cape Town. You can check out her mammoth cycle feat on her website: www.takeonafrica.co and her email address is: Helen@takeonafrica.com
My visit to the SAPS ‘Victim Support Centre’ in Darling and Saldahna proved to be a much more pleasant experience than the one in Atlantis, although I was provided with some seriously depressing information on what is occurring in this part of the country with regard to the rape and sexual abuse of children.
This is ‘Pearl’, a volunteer with the SAPS in Darling who is instrumental in ensuring that the ‘Victim Support centre’ provides the best support a small place like Darling can provide.
And this is Constable Helen Papier who heads up the ‘Victim Support Centre’ in Vredenberg. Although according to Helen, who also handles cases for the area of paternoster and other surrounding areas, “child rape is practically non-existent in these areas”, we wish Helen, but it’s just that the police are not aware of it!
As I said earlier, I was very kindly sponsored accommodation for my visit to the area by the Protea Hotel – Saldahna and oh boy was I spoilt here, so meet the Protea Hotel Saldahna’s General Manager Berneace Nel (With the yellow blouse) and her very efficient and friendly staff.
Then it was time for my visit to that ever friendly lady and store manager of the Beares store in Vredenberg, Cassie Grobler and her group of merry women and men. Every-time I visit this store I feel like I have ‘returned home’ and this visit was no exception, so to Cassie and her truly terrific bunch of guys and gals at the Beares store in Vredenberg you have mine and Buddy’s grateful thanks for making our visit to your store such a pleasant one.
That’s Cassie right up front and hiding right in the back is the regional manager Willie Nieman, I haven’t worked out yet if he’s following me around or if I have been following him, but it’s been really great meeting up with Willie and chatting with him.
Another incredible lady I met in Vredenberg is a lady by the name of Reneé Hope who has established an NGO/safe house in Vredenberg called “House of Hope” which provides support to
HIV infected individuals as well as victims of domestic violence and child rape.
Reneé provided me with some pretty shocking information on what is happening in the area with regard to child rape, which was, as usual, totally contradicting to the information provided to me by the local police. The ‘House of Hope’ details are: www.houseofhope.biz Email: email@example.com
I could not resist visiting some of the really amazingly beautiful places to be found in the area such as Paternoster and the Tities Baai. All the information I was provided with, with regard to child rape in the Paternoster area by the police as well as the local clinic indicated that “Child rape does not exist in the area”, but unfortunately I have come to learn to take this information with a pinch of salt and so will hopefully be spending a little more time in the area speaking to the communities when I head up the West Coast when I finally leave cape Town in a few weeks time.
This is the lovely tranquil beach at Tities Baai
A group of kids who hitched a ride to Paternoster and were perched up on Buddy’s roof struts.
As you can see the Paternoster Hotel pub is decorated in the same manner as ‘Ronnies Sex Shop’ near Barrydale, see blog 21
Following my visit to the Western Cape region and on my return to Cape Town, I headed back to Jo’burg courtesy of Translux Bus Services for a bit of R&R and to get a new batch of ‘Buddy and Me’ flyers printed as well as to sort out a few personal problems. Unfortunately after getting things done and while packing my stuff into my car for a trip to Pinetown to visit my family, I twisted my ankle and was under the impression that I had sustained a bad sprain. However after a very painful drive to Pinetown and on arriving at my daughters house, on seeing my ankle swollen to unbelievable proportions and my entire foot was a very dark shade of black and blue, Carey insisted that I see a doctor who on ex-raying the foot discovered that I had in-fact fractured two bones and the tendon had ripped away from the bone breaking off a reasonably large chip of bone.
So meet ‘Hop-a-long Casualty’ alias Steve Heath
After a couple of days with my family I boarded the Translux bus and headed back to Cape Town enduring a very painful trip of twenty five and a half hours in the process. This has obviously created a delay in the ‘Buddy and Me’ project for a few weeks because the instructions from the doctor is to ‘Stay off the foot and not place any downward pressure on the foot if you want it to heal properly and quickly”, hence a delay in the project, but the time will not be wasted as I intend using it to make contact with a number of people in Cape Town and set up appointments to press home my ideas of how I believe the ‘Thuthuzela are Centres’ should be established. I will also be placing the proposal of the formation of these centres on the blog as a link within the next few days, so stay tuned and check it out. I would also appreciate comments and opinions on the proposal.
While travelling back to Cape Town courtesy of Translux Bus Service, I received a phone call from a distraught grandmother who lives in Bishops Lavis, a township complex near to the Cape Town Airport. The call came about following an article on ‘Buddy and Me’ in a Cape Town newspaper the previous week, and she asked if she could meet with me to discuss a distressing situation the family is facing. With the help of a friend, because obviously Buddy is resting up while I’m in this confounded plaster cast, I visited the grandmother (Jennifer Adams) who told me the shocking storey of the rape of her granddaughter in 2009 who was, at the time of the rape, 11 years old, and was raped by five local gangsters, all in their early 20’s.
They had evidently abducted her while she was on her way to school and had kept her in a house for most of the day, raping her repeatedly and when finished with her later in the afternoon had chased her out into the street. The case was reported to the police and an examination confirmed the savagery of the rape. She knew one of the rapists and the police confirmed that they knew exactly who the culprits were as they were already investigating a case of the rape of another young girl against them. All five were arrested and she identified all of them as being her attackers, all five were released on bail.
To cut a long storey short, after 18 months the case went to court where, because the 11 year-old, in the words of the court, “could not talk” as in no condition to face her rapists in court and give evidence to the satisfaction of the court, the case was withdrawn against all five and they were released back into society as if nothing had happened. The other rape case against them was also withdrawn because the other young girl was too scared to give evidence against the five gangsters and she had warned Jennifer’s granddaughter that if she gave evidence against the five she would be killed.
To make matters worse, in April 2010, Jennifer’s granddaughter was once again raped by two thugs from the area who she knew well and had identified by name, and once again charges were laid with the Goodwood SAPS-FCS unit, and once again the two culprits were released on R1 000 – 00 bail. Since the reporting of the case, one year later, nothing has been heard of the case, and all enquiries have fallen on deaf ears.
Jennifer (The grandmother) has provided me with all the information on both cases and I intend getting to the bottom of this and will be using my “In-valid” time (as my son calls it) making every effort to establish what occurred in the first case which led to the case being “with-drawn” and what is happening about the second case. Discussions with people in the area prior to my meeting Jennifer and her granddaughter, revealed that this kind of thing is occurring on a regular basis in the Cape Flats region and it appears that the gangsters can do exactly what they want with no interference from the police?
As you will have noted from my blogs, I have visited a number of police stations which have ‘Victim Support Rooms/Centre’ and I really commend the police in particularly the Western Cape region for their initiative in establishing these centres/rooms, however I still believe that the initiative has been lost in the fact that the follow through from the police as well as our justice system has failed the victims and mothers reporting the rape of their children and this is a classic example of the situation which is occurring repeatedly all over South Africa. Also the victims are still required to be transported to hospitals, which in many cases are many kilometres away, by means of police vehicles for the purpose of under going the necessary examination, and so I stick to my guns with regard to the fact that I believe the formation and establishment of Thuthuzela Care Centres in the manner described in my proposal to the President is a far better option.
Well that’s about all for now, so now having brought my blog up to date I am going to put my foot and give it some well deserved rest so that it can heal fast and allow me to at least be able to drive Buddy soon so that I can get on with my crusade against the rape and sexual abuse of children.
So keep well, stay safe and of course do everything in your power to keep all children safe.
Caring regards from
‘Buddy (The Beach Buggy)
Me’ (Steve Heath, alias ‘Hop-a-long Casualty)
Please send comments and opinions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note that all comments and opinions on the ‘Buddy and Me’ website/blogs are those of Steve Heath and not those of the sponsors of the ‘Buddy and Me’ project.