Posted by Julia
Categories: Buddy and Me
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See Blog 29 for detailed itinerary of ‘Buddy and Me’ project 3 (8th May – 23rd June 2011) So welcome to another blog / diary of ‘Buddy and Me – project3). Before I continue I must give my sincere apologies to Julia, the lovely lady / friend in Germiston who so kindly assists this computer idiot by converting my email form blogs and posting them onto my website.
I say apologies because I thought I would cut down on the number of blogs I did on project 2 and so save her some work and not take up so much of her personal time, but alas I have discovered that by doing this it makes the blogs longer with more photos to down load, so Julia you have my sincere apologies and grateful thanks for the great job you are doing, it’s truly appreciated.
So now down to business of what’s been happening in the lives of ‘Buddy and Me’. Firstly I had a great time with some amazing people, friends as well as local community members of the small towns of Doorn Baai, Strandfontein and Vredendal. Apart from learning about what is happening with regard to the rape and sexual abuse of children in these areas I also got to spend some really quality time with them, and to get to see some of the amazing countryside and undertake some extensive sight seeing along this amazing coast line.
Just a small part of what I’m talking about, I have many incredible pictures, so anyone who wants to see more can contact me on my email email@example.com and I will gladly email them to you.
‘Buddy- Ziggy (If you look carefully you will see her in my arms, a cross Jack Russell / Chichawa – if that’s how one spells it?) – and Me’ inside an amazing cave I found while on my excursion along the coast line. The local community depend on two sources of income, one from the marine diamond trade; boats that collect diamonds from the oceans surface by means of divers with large vacume cleaner type equipment, and fishing, my preference of course!
The fisherman had just got back from a days fishing with their catch of Snoek which has been in abundance for the last few weeks when I arrived at the slipway and of course I could not resist buying one, hell at R20-00 for a 3 Kg Snoek I ask you who could turn that offer down?
I was disappointed on Saturday because the Sharks had a bye for the weekend but Lisa, (Leon’s wife, they were moss in the last photo at the braai in my last blog – 31), brightened up my day by taking me on a tour of the town which included a stop-off at the local rugby grounds where I watched a game of rugby with a few of the local community members.
And of course all the kids decided that a ride in Buddy was much more exiting than watching a game of rugby!
My visit to the area was ended off with, yep you guessed, a braai and party of note! and Leon did a great job with this and not only was he braaing, but at the same time he smoked my Snoek for me, for pad kos.
So with the recreational part of my visit finished it’s now down to the working part and main purpose of my visit to the area. After all this time of being involved in the ‘Buddy and Me’ project – 6 years and 183 000 kilometres under the belt and having visited almost every town and city in South Africa as well as 14 other countries in Africa, I still find it incredible that whenever I arrive in an area and speak to the ‘authorities’ as in the people, who ‘should’ know what’s going on in the area with regard to child rape, I am told “Child rape here, nooo it doesn’t happen here, we have maybe one or two cases a year”.
Well firstly one or two cases a year in my book is one or two cases too many, secondly this information I always discover after talking to the women and mothers and other community members in the area, is absolute nonsense. The information obtained from this source always paints an entirely different picture and I am told that “it is occurring on a large scale”, but as usual for the reasons identified in my ‘Proposal for a Solution to Stopping the rape of Children’ link on this website, it is not being reported. The three main reasons being:
1) The system or route the mother and child is subjected to in terms of the reporting at the police station, transporting of the child to a hospital in a police vehicle, the humiliation and degradation the child is subjected to at the hospital, the fact that the rapist is released on bail to torment and intimidate the child and mother / parents etc.
2) In the majority of instances (believed to be around 90%) the father, as in the biological father or step-father, uncle is the perpetrator, therefore should he be arrested and form one of the countries 4 – 6% statistics of convicted child rapists and be imprisoned, the financial factor of having the ‘bread winner’ removed from the family environment is too devastating for the mother to live with.
3) Because of the facts mentioned in 2 above, the family, because of the embarrassment of the child being raped, sexually abused, by the father, step-father uncle etc, put immense pressure on the mother not to report it, in-spite of section 54 of the Sexual Offences Act 32/2007 forbidding this and making it a crime. (For details and an example on what I believe should be done to stop this practice, see blog 24) The other major problem of course is the fact that there is absolutely no support structure whatsoever in this entire area for victims of child rape, or for that matter, victims of domestic violence which because of the massive drug (Tik) and alcohol abuse problem, is rife! Sunday morning found ‘Buddy and Me’ heading out of Doorn Baai in very misty/overcast and freezing cold weather, but after passing through Vredendal and Vanrhynsdorp and cresting the Vanrhyns Pass where visibility was a mere one metre, the misty/cloudy conditions suddenly evaporated and the sky was suddenly blue with not a cloud in sight, absolutely amazing.
After cresting the Pass I looked back and could see the perfectly straight line of the misty/cloudy conditions behind me. The 611 kilometre drive to Upington took ‘Buddy and Me’ a devastating 9 hours and 53 minutes to complete and was one of the loneliest drives I have ever undertaken, much time to think, I mean check this out,
and this was the scenery for most of the trip. I think I saw a total of 10 vehicles during the entire 10 hours and the only human beings I saw were 5 when I stopped in Kenhardt to fill up with petrol and in-fact at one stage with the road disappearing far into the distance I thought I caught a glimpse of next week. Passing through Calvinia (Oh yes I saw a couple of human beings there too, but only a couple because after all it was Sunday) I saw this amazing sight Pic 1349 the worlds biggest post box! Fortunately Protea Hotels once again came to my rescue, because after the almost 10 hour trip all I wanted was a room to sleep in, but first a long, soaking bath because after all it was 7pm when I checked in, and the Protea Upington Hotel’s General Manager Peet Janse van Rensburg kindly and generously provided both for me.
So Peet you and your friendly staff have my eternal gratitude and thanks for you friendship and hospitality. How’s this for a view of the Orange River, taken from my room
My visit to the Beares store in Upington was as usual a really festive occasion where the store Manager, Caleen Willemse and her friendly staff made my visit to their store a really great one.
Caleen is on my left. I spent quite a lot of time with members of the police FCS unit, who provided me with an incredible amount of information and opinions on the current systems and its failings and so I don’t think I should mention their names, I’m sure you can appreciate why.
One of the biggest gripes I have heard from members of the police force, and this is not only in the Upington area but right across South Africa, is that because of all the changes made ‘at the top’ as in senior officials being removed from office on a regular basis, every time a new ‘broom’ is brought in, he or she brings in his/her own ‘new’ ideas and every thing is changed.
With this continues ‘changing of the guards’ process, no system is given time to get properly put into place, hence major confusion in the ranks. Just a few examples of this are:
1) The fact that the name was changed from SAP (South African Police) to SAPS (South African Police Service). Now there are rumours that this will soon be changed to SAPF (South African Police Force) the reason being that the ‘new’ police Commissioner believes that the criminals “see the Police Service as a ‘soft’ organisation where as the ‘Police Force’ comes across as a no nonsense one”.
2) The ranks were changed from Warrant Officers, Lieutenants, Majors, and Colonels etc to Inspectors, Superintendents, and Directors etc. They are now, after a mere couple of years and enormous cost to the tax payers, been changed back to what they originally were!
3) And my favourite, the CPU – Child Protection Unit, which by the way was regarded as one of the best specialised child protection units in the world, was disbanded, re-established as the FCS unit a couple of years later and then re-disbanded and can you believe it RE-ESTABLISHED again!
I mean, come on, how can we expect our police men and woman to function properly when chaos and confusion reigns in the top ranks and it is blatantly obvious that the ‘powers that be’ cannot make a decision and stick to it. My discussion also revealed that my information regarding the statistics I have been given with regard to the national conviction rate in child rape cases currently stands at a pathetic 4 – 6%, the main contributing factor to this was confirmed as being:
1) Pathetic statements being taken by incompetent police men and women at the initial point of reporting with this being attributed to the fact that there are nowhere near enough trained police men and women in the FCS unit. (For details on my view point on this issue, read blog 2 and blog 18, re the amount of money being spent on our ‘Metro’ police force in comparison to what is being spent on the formation and establishment of the FCS units)
2) The unacceptably long time, average between 10 months to two years for DNA forensic results to be obtained, resulting in
3) The totally ridiculous time of between 2 and 3 years for a child rape case to appear in court.
I also got to meet an interesting lady by the name of Ms. Valerie Syster who is the Manager of the Bopanong Centre and is with the Department of Social development. The functions of the centre are pretty much the same as those of the Thuthuzela Care Centres which can be found scattered around South Africa and which I am sure for those who have been following my blogs, know that although I believe that they could be the roots to stopping the scourge of child rape in South Africa, are far from achieving this. (For details see the link on this website – ‘A Proposal to Stopping the Rape of Children’) I asked Valerie to read my proposal on the establishment of the Thuthuzela Care centres and look forward to her comments and opinions.
The one thing I learnt in Upington, and hearing it come from the mouths of policemen was like music to my ears, although the information was far from music to my ears, is the fact that the rape and sexual abuse of children in the area is happening at an horrific rate and the policemen who told me agreed fully that the mothers will not report it for the exact reasons I mentioned. They agreed totally that I am on the right track, so thanks guys that is very encouraging.
While driving out of Upington on my way to Kathu, I stopped off to fill up Buddy again and met yet another motorcyclists touring around South Africa, Namibia and Botswana, so meet Johan Pienaar who hails from Thabazimbi
Johan I am going to hold you to your promise of a few cold frosties when I reach Thabazimbi. The drive to Kathu was very similar to the long lonely drive from Doorn Baai to Upington, just not so long, only 213 kilometres this time and I arrived at the Beares store at 1:30 in the afternoon and spent a few hours chatting to the friendly Manager Elsabie Faber and her staff.
(That’s Elsabie in the middle in the front) I also got to spend quite a bit of time with the Commander of the Kathu SAPS – FCS unit Warrant Officer Buks Hannekom who told me that the FCS unit was formed in Kathu in February this year (2011) but unfortunately since its formation nothing much has occurred with regard to providing them with premises, even desks and the proverbial gripe of all police officers, no vehicles. The Kathu FCS unit is expected to provide essential services for victims of child rape and domestic violence generated from four stations which are scattered over a pretty large area and is expected to achieve this with a total staff consisting of Warrant Officer Hannekom and two other investigators with the use of ONE vehicle. And then we wonder why mothers won’t report the rape of their children and WHY our national conviction rate stands at a pathetic 4 – 6%. My accommodation in Kathu for the first night was kindly provided courtesy of the Melkbos B+B a really lovely place, so many thanks to Phillip and Hester Prinsloo for you kind and generous support. Contact details for the Melkbos B+B if you are ever in need of top class accommodation when in Kathu are:
Tel. 053 723 1429
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
My second nights accommodation was courtesy of the Mopani B+B yet another lovely place, so thanks to Gert and Karren for your kind assistance. Contact details for the Mopani B+B are: Tel, 053 723 2519 and 082 337 4800.
Before I eventually sign off, Julia is probably saying “Thank goodness for that”, I just want to tell you about a gripe I have with the tick smoking/snorting addicts of the Doorn Baai area.
On preparing to leave Doorn Baai, I did the usual walk around checking that the lights on the buggy and trailer were working and that all padlocks were on etc and to my horror I discovered that the right rear tail light of the trailer was broken. After buying a new one in Upington (R85-00) I was told by a cop that the tick addicts smash the tail lights of trailers and caravans to get the globe to use for tick, so to the juncky who broke my R85-00 tail light for two globes worth R2-50 I hope you choke on your tick and that the flees of a million camels infest your arm pits.
Your pathetic addiction not only cost me R85-00 but time running around to find a drill to redrill the holes and fit it, but thanks to Phillip of Melkbos B+B in this regard for your help. Okay, so this blog has now taken me almost four hours to write, so I am going to say chio for now, once again I am really sorry Julia for taking up so much of your personal time with this marathon blog, I’ll try to keep them shorter, but to everyone, keep well, stay safe and obviously keep all children safe. Caring regards from ‘Buddy (The Beach Buggy) And Me’ (Steve Heath)
Please note that all comments and opinions on the ‘Buddy and Me’ website and blogs are those of Steve Heath and not those of the sponsors to the ‘Buddy and Me’ project.