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Tue
31
May '11

Blog 33 – Buddy and Me – Project 3 (20th – 31st May 2011)

Posted by Julia

Categories: Buddy and Me

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Who Is Steve Heath
A Message To The President of South Africa.
Factors Contributing To The Increase In Child Rape.
A Proposed Solution To Stopping The Rape And Sexual Abuse Of Children in SA.

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)

Welcome to blog 33 of the ‘Buddy and Me’ project. This past week has found me, as well as Buddy, undertaking some extensive travelling; I did a bit more than Buddy, due to the Round Tablers of Vryburg ‘hi-jacking’ me. This week has also found me celebrating my birthday in a magical place courtesy of Round Tabler Hennie Stols, who is not only a Tabler in the Vryburg Round Table but is also Area Chairman of the Round Table Northern Cape Area. This week also found me grieving from the news that my mother, who would have turned 84 on the 6th of June passed away.

So let me start at the beginning, but first, once again my apologies to Julia for the number of photos in this blog, but unfortunately due to it being a lengthy period of time I am covering a lot has happened and I have met so many people and done so much I would not be doing them justice for their incredible support and assistance to the ‘Buddy and Me’ project if I did not publish the photos, so here goes.

So when last I wrote, (blog 32) I was leaving Kathu and heading for Kuruman. My visit to Kuruman was a particularly good one, in that the Beares store Manager, Nico Rheeder had made arrangements for me to do talks at two schools in the area. The first was at a pre-primary school (Wielie Walie) where I got to meet a horde of kids who instantly fell in love with Buddy,

and after my talk,

obviously if I did not let them clamber all over Buddy and include him in the proceedings, he would have given me a hard time on the road for a long tome to come.  

 

Next it was a visit to the Kuruman Primary School, where on our arrival at the front gate ‘Buddy and Me’ had to ‘drive the gauntlet’,

which involved driving into the premises between two long lines of pupils all shouting greetings, waving and cheering at the tops of their voices.

 

All the kids were ushered into the main hall and following a presentation on the various forms of child abuse, as well as information on what a child should do should it find itself being a victim of the despicable crime of child abuse by Social Worker Louise Prinsloo of the NGO – ACVV Kuruman, I was given the privilege of addressing the packed hall and had their undivided attention for three quarters of an hour.

 I also got to meet the Vice Principal of the school, Mrs. Irene Turner

and the Head Boy Gerhard (On my right) and Deputy Head Boy, Hennie

Following my amazing time at the school, ‘Buddy and Me’ bid the pupils and staff farewell, and after once again driving yet another gauntlet out of the school premises we headed for the Beares Kuruman store. Here I had a lengthy chat with Social Workers Louise Prinsloo and Jeneveve (and yes that is spelt right) Anthony about what is happening in the area with regard to the rape and sexual abuse of children, and yes it is happening at a rate of knots in the area.

After presenting them with the findings of the ‘Buddy and Me’ project and presenting them with what ‘I believe’ is the ‘ground roots’ to stop the rape of children (See the link “Proposal for a Solution…on the front page of this website) they both agreed fully that should the government and NPA (National Prosecuting Authority) who is currently heading up the formation and establishment of the Thuthuzela Care Centre’s around South Africa and who are, in the process, according to my humble opinion, currently due to the manner in which they are being established, is wasting an enormous amount of the South African tax payers money, not to mention millions of Rands (US Dollars) being given to them by various international organisations.

Following my chat with Louise and Jeneveve I spent some quality time with the friendly staff of Beares Kuruman.

From the Beares store I headed for the Thuthuzela Care Centre which is based at the provincial hospital. Here I met two ladies who because of the sensitive nature of the information I was provided I promised not to disclose their names. After being told how the centre operates, as in the process a mother of a child rape victim has to follow, which by the way is pretty much the same as that adopted in all other areas where Thuthuzela care Centres have been ‘established’ I can understand and appreciate, once again, why mothers refuse to subject their kids to this process, and I must admit that faced with the predicament I would not subject my child to this horrible process if my child was a victim of the despicable crime of child rape. I personally would rather ensure that she or he receives the proper medical and counselling support, and then subject myself to the legal / justice process.

One bit of information I received in the area was particularly mind boggling for me, and that was that it has come to their attention that there are certain police officials in the Kuruman area who when being approached by mothers with children who have been raped, describe the shocking and traumatic process she and her child will be subjected to if she reports it, including graphic details of the examination, problems and possible consequences they could face should the perpetrator be arrested and released on bail, the lengthy period of time it will take for the case to go to trial etc etc etc. This is obviously not helping to encourage mothers to report the rape and sexual abuse of their children; hence the problem is escalating at a mean rate.

After discussing the current manner in which the Thuthuzela Care Centres are being established and presenting them with my proposal on how ‘I believe’ they should be established, I was asked “So Steve why are you not the boss of the Thuthuzela Care Centres”. Well ladies all I wish is that the ‘powers that be’ in the Thuthuzela Care Centres, as in Senior Director – Advocate Majokweni, Deputy Director – Bronwyn Pithey or Senior Advocate (SOCA-NPA) – Lizelle Africa would respond to one of my many emails and phone call messages to contact me and allow me the opportunity to discuss my issues with the establishment of the Thuthuzela Care Centres with them, but to date alas I have not been afforded the privilege of receiving any form of communication from any of them or from their offices, I wait in anticipation.

My accommodation in Kuruman was kindly provided courtesy of Ansa and Tienie Linde who own the lovely Shalom Guesthouse and B+B. At the time of meeting Ansa, she was forced to cut our chat short due to her not feeling well and was forced to retire to bed. Two days later I received a call from Nico Rheeder, the manager of the Beares store in Kuruman with the devastating news that Ansa was in the process of passing away and that her family and close friends had been summonsed to her bedside to say their final farewells to this lovely lady. Evidently she had suffered, I believe?, some type of stroke which had affected her breathing which in turn had drastically reduced the flow of oxygen to her brain. The doctor confirmed that due to the severe damage this had caused there was no point in transferring her to hospital and so the good byes were done in the comfort of her lovely home and bed. So Tienie you have my heartfelt sympathy and condolences and I am sure you will treasure the many lovely memories you have of Ansa, your incredibly lovely, kind and generous wife for many years to come, stay strong, my thoughts are with you.

 The Shalom Guesthouse contact details, should you ever find yourself in need of accommodation in Kuruman are: 053–7121781 or 072 195 7848.

My next port of call was Vryburg, and in this town resides a group of individuals, in the form of the Round Tablers, who must be one of the craziest, most incredible bunch of individuals I have ever had the pleasure of being acquainted with. Immediately on informing the Table Chairman, Ettienne Starke of my intended visit to Vryburg, I was contacted by a couple of the Table members and arrangements were made for me to stay at the Molopo Travel Inn, and for me to attend the local ‘Biltong Fees’ that night.

Before getting settled into my room, I first headed for the police station where I was given a very ‘cagey’ reception and was then sent off to the only support structure the town of Vryburg has for victims of child rape as well as victims of domestic violence, namely the Naledi ‘One – Stop’ Centre which is situated in the Huhudi Township a short way outside of Vryburg. Here I met a Social Worker by the name of Phammy Matlabe who confirmed that the services or support the centre provides is identical to that provided by the Thuthuzela Care Centres, and is also of a very poor quality and the fact that it, as in the case of the Thuthuzela Care Centres, is referred to as a ‘One-Stop’ centre is an absolute joke!

In almost all instances during my extensive travels and talks at ‘victim support centres’ to be found scattered around South Africa, I have discovered that the social workers at these centres, the majority being volunteers, and these being individuals who provide counselling to rape victims and victims of domestic violence who have suffered severe trauma, have had no training whatsoever. After hearing details of my proposal on what needs to be done to eradicate child rape from our society, Phammy fully agreed that if the centres were established like I propose it would be the roots of eradicating the scourge from our society. We had a lengthy discussion on the problem surrounding young girls in the 13 -15 year age group whose boyfriends are much older, as in their 20’s and the parents allow them to participate in sex and because the boyfriend pay the family money, and even when the child falls pregnant the parents do nothing about it, as in reporting the rape of the child, because of the ‘financial factor’. This in my constitutes ‘Child trafficking’ and yet our government, as in its justice system, condones it and does nothing to stop it in-spite of all its propaganda campaigns claiming to want to ‘Stamp out Child Trafficking”.

The big problem is that our government is participating in this crime and should be charged along with the parents for contravening section 54 of ‘Act 32 of the Sexual Offences Act’ in that they are not prosecuting the parents for failing to report the rape of the child. Phammy also agreed that the government has got to do something fast to stop enticing young girls and young women to have children purely for the purpose of receiving the child grants, which in many cases the child receives no benefit from. We had a very long discussion and Phammy gave me some really good opinions and comments, so many thanks Phammy for your time.

This is the first group of Tablers who arrived at the Molopo Travel Inn to greet me. I was soon whisked off to the local country club where I met a few more Tablers,

for a ‘serious’ meeting, and then off to the ‘Biltong Fees (festival)’

where yep I did a lot more talking. Now for those who have never attended a ‘Biltong Fees’, this involves a four course meal all consisting of yep BILTONG! The soup is made from biltong, the starter is made from biltong, the main course is biltong and yes you guesed, the desert is small cookies things made from BILTONG! I have never been presented with or even heard of so many varieties of biltong! A truly amazing experience.

From the biltong fees, I was taken to meet a number of Vryburg’s celebrities and community members at a local pub where I even got to meet with this lovely lady

 So everyone meet Lize-Marie Twigge ‘Miss Stellalander for 2011’. During the course of the evening, I was told by Hennie Stols, the Round Table Area Chairman for the Northern Cape Area, that functions were being held by the Round Tables in both Kakamas as well as Augrabies the next day (Saturday) and that my presence at these functions had been requested by the respective Round Tables.

 

 The fact that attending these functions would involve a round trip of almost 1300 kilometres and which would take almost 13 hours to complete, did not deter me, what me pass up an opportunity to talk, I would travel to the ends of the earth to talk on the subject of child rape and the information I have obtained on this ‘Buddy and Me’ project. So after being dropped off at my Molopo Travel Inn accommodation at a quarter to three on Saturday morning, yep you read that right, I was picked up 45 minutes later by the Tablers of Vryburg, in their combi, and we started the long trek South to, first Kakamas and then Augrabies, roughly 620 something kilometres away! Fortunately Tablers are very insistent on a driver being allocated for when they attend any functions where the consumption of alcohol is partaken in, so guy’s hats off to you for your insistence on this rule.

The function at kakamas involved a Bowls competition in which everyone had to participate; mmmm I won’t go into detail with that,

 Here Trixie, Hennie’s wife, was ‘warming up’ with Tabler Paul Dippenaar, Vice Chairman of Augrabies Round Table and our host that evening on his incredibly beautiful wine farm on the banks of the Orange River in Augrabies. Following a very festive afternoon in Augrabies, we headed out for the Round Table club house in Augrabies where I once again got the opportunity to do what I love doing, talk,

 So meet the Tablers of Augrabies where I was once again presented with a Round Table banner and lapel pin to add to my ever growing collection of Round Table pins and banners.

After a magic time with the Round Tablers of Augrabies at their club house we retired to Pauls Dippenaars magnificent home, which as I said is situated on the banks of the mighty Orange River a short way down from the Augrabies Fall, these falls

 Paul and his lovely wife Jandri (I hope I spelt it right) as in the case with all Round Tablers, are amazing hosts and we were provided with a genuine ‘Noord Kaap’ braai and all the ‘stuff’ that goes with it, and so all and sundry,

 had a marvellous time in paradise. So many thanks Paul and Jandri for your incredible friendship and hospitality, it was sincerely appreciated.

During the long drive back to Vryburg on Sunday, Hennie asked me where I was intending to spend the week of my birthday, (the up-coming week) which I had originally scheduled to spend in Cape Town but do to ‘unforeseen’ changes in my life, I decided to cancel. When I said that I was intending to camp at one of the nearby dams, these being Bloemhof and the Warrenton Dams, he immediately offered me the use of his ‘holiday home’ which is situated on the banks of the Vaal River a short way outside of Christiana. Hence I spent the week of my birthday at this incredibly beautiful place

And of course I partook in my favourite sport, and that being?

For my birthday (Tuesday the 24th May), I popped into a local establishment called ‘Amperklaar” (for those who don’t understand Afrikaans this means ‘nearly finished’) the reason for this is because the owner of the establishment Les, started building it 8 years ago and “is nearly finished?” but it is never the less a great place. A local chap, who unfortunately died about 18 months ago painted this amazing painting on the one wall, and took 7 hours to complete it.

And this is the rest of the pub

 and meet the owner, Les standing on the right of the picture.

My intention and schedule was to attend the official opening of the newly revamped Hartswater Beares store on Friday the 27th May, but unfortunately at 4:45am on that fateful morning I received a call from my sister, Nan in Pinetown informing me that my mom, Val Heath had just passed away. Obviously I had to cancel the rest of the schedule for the project and after a gruelling 14 hour, 823 kilometre drive in Buddy from Christiana through what must be some of the coldest weather I have driven on the project to date, arrived in Pinetown at 11pm on Friday night. I will be providing a new schedule as soon as my moms affairs have been finalised and the schedule will be published as a blog.

The funeral/memorial service arrangements for my mom have been made for 2:30pm on Friday the 3rd of June to be held at the ‘Christ Church’ in Meller Road Pinetown, 3 days before what would have been her 84th birthday, so mom, you were an amazing mother and woman, and although I know you are in a better place, and that you wanted to be there for sometime now, but you will still be sadly missed, I love you, and will treasure the many incredible memories you left us with, rest in peace now lovely lady.

Before I sign off I would just like to mention something that has been told to the family by the management of the ‘home’ my mother spent the last few years in, namely the ‘Pinetown Nursing Home’ and although they provided her with a tremendous service during her stay there, we find it amazing that a refund of the deposit which was paid and which is a substantial amount, will not be refunded “Due to the fact that she did not provide the home with 30 days notice”. I am sure I don’t need to go into details of why we, the family, are not happy with this decision and explanation, totally ridiculous!

With that I am going to bid everyone farewell for now, keep well, stay safe and above all keep the children safe.

Caring regards from

Buddy (The Beach Buggy)

And

Me’ (Steve Heath)

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

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.

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