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Jul '11

Blog 40 – Buddy and Me – Project 3 (27th June – 3rd July 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)

  • To see the ‘Buddy and Me’ scheduled itinerary details for the period 14 June – 19th July 2011 see blog 34
  • To read the shocking details of the Upington horror story – The Hynie Dick Story – regarding the ‘Upington savage pedophile’ see blog 35
  • To read details of the ‘savage’ the police are looking for in connection with the rape of a 3 year little girl, see blog 39
  • To read the heart breaking story by a mother (Cathy Kenney) of the rape of  her 3 year-old daughter see blog 38

 

So welcome to ‘Buddy and Me’ blog 40. This week ‘Buddy and Me’ (Buddy of course being my esteemed mechanical stead – Beach Buggy) spent what must be the coldest full week we have ever experienced on all three projects of this crusade to find and implement a solution to stopping the rape and sexual abuse of children. We have experienced some pretty freezing conditions over the past 6 years on our crusade across Africa and having visited almost every town and city n South Africa, but the cold has, in the past only lasted one or two days, but this passed week the freezing conditions have not relented and in fact have gotten worse each day as we have headed south, and from what the weather forecasters say, our visit to Bloemfontein on Monday (4th July) is going to be a humdinger!

But enough moaning about the weather, there are people, very young ones, who are suffering much worse because of the atrocities being perpetrated against them by savages roaming our country every day, so without further ado let me begin with where ‘Buddy and Me’ have travelled over this past week and share some of the enlightening information, comments and opinions I have been provided with in the course of my travels.

My week started with a visit to Parys where, thanks to the manager and staff of the Beares store in Parys, I got to meet some really interesting people, amongst others a lady by the name of Gerda Meyer who is with the NGO Free State Care in Action. Gerda confirmed my belief that the judicial system is letting the people down and that there are many individuals who, because they are doing the right thing and reporting the abuse of children, are being made into ‘the baddy’s’.

She confirmed that she has experienced many instances where, teachers, neighbours, community members and social workers have reported the abuse of children, the police have done their job and on appearing in court the accused is asked if he or she is sorry for what they did and on answering “yes” has been let off with a warning only to be charged again later when the same thing occurs again. She told me of a specific case in which a 14 year girl was severely beaten by her step-father for the second time but this time he threw her through a plate glass window and she sustained additional injuries.

On appearing in court he was asked if he was sorry for what he had done and on replying “yes” the child was asked if she forgave him for what he did, now I ask you with tears running down my legs, what do you think a 14 little girl, whose mother depends on his income to ensure the families survival is going to say?? Hence he was released, once again, on a warning. So do our courts expect the savage to beat her to death before any action is taken against him??

The same applies to people reporting the rape and sexual abuse of children in compliance with legislation, because section 54 of the Sexual Offences Act 34/2007 which CORRECTLY AND RIGHTLY states that; Any person who is made aware of the fact that a child has been raped or sexually abused, fails to report it to the authorities (police) is guilty of an offence” are being branded baddies for having reported the rape of children when the case is thrown out of court because of the failure of the NPA (National Prosecuting Authority) to provide ‘Children’s Courts’ which are properly established child friendly courts.

I have written extensively about the establishment of Thuthuzela Care Centres which I firmly believe that in-spite of the fact that they are the roots to the solution to eradicating the rape and sexual abuse of children from our society, are currently, as they are being set up by the NPA, a total waist of time and money.

I believe that the NPA should focus on what they are supposed to know best, the judicial system, and stay out of something they know nothing about, such as the establishment of Thuthuzela Care Centres, after all the ‘Head’ of the Thuthuzela Care Centre initiative is an Advocate as is the other Regional heads, in other words legal ‘experts’ not Social Workers, and an NGO should be created to undertake the establishment and running of these centres. The NPA should focus their time ensuring that Children’s Courts are established at all Regional courts and that these are made child friendly and ensure that everything is done to increase the existing pathetic national average conviction rate for child rape from its present miserable 4 – 6% to an acceptable level of at least 85%.

I further believe that they, the NPA, should be focusing on ensuring that the system is changed, on a national basis, to allow a case of child rape (cases involving children under the age of 12 years of age) to go to trial immediately when the investigation is completed, according to my information this, in most cases, is within a period of 6 – 12 weeks (maximum 3 months) and that these cases be given priority over all other cases on the court list. Following the completion of the trial, the verdict (and hopefully sentencing) will stand down pending the results of the DNA forensic test. I further believe that it would improve our national conviction rate if in all instances samples of the accused blood is taken at the time of his arrest and submitted together with DNA samples for testing.

The other interesting discussion I had with Gerda was surrounding the fact that the biggest problem our country is facing is the fact that major serious crime being perpetrated by children is increasing at a phenomenal rate, and this includes the rape of children by children. She agreed with me that the current ‘Diversion Programme’ is not working and that because of the campaigns to inform children of their rights, which are very good and we both agreed are essential, many children are abusing the system and that the campaigns should include the fact that the kids must respect the rights of other kids and members of the communities. They also need to be made aware of the fact that should they abuse these rights that there will be consequences, but unfortunately due to the implementation of the ‘Child Justice Act’ which states that a child under the age of 10 cannot be held responsible for his/her actions there are no consequences.

So now on with my visit to the lovely town of Parys situated on the banks of the Vaal River where the Beares Store Manager Daleen Smit unfortunately was on leave but her stand-in manager Marietjie Cordier did a sterling job in arranging people for me to meet, apart from Gerda, and this included meeting DJ/Presenter Mawandile Sontyale of Lentswe Fm93-0 radio station which is situated in the near-by township.

 My interview proved to be a hit with the community and I had some tremendous feed back, and was stopped twice on my way out of the township by members of the community who had heard me on the radio and wanted to say “hi” and chat to me, a really awesome experience.

Then it was time to say farewell to the staff of Beares in Parys

 and head out of Parys for the distant Potchefstroom where I was hosted accommodation by Round Tabler Johan Van der Walt and his wife Makie and their lovely daughter Johané.-

As usual, the Round Tablers ensured that I was kept busy in the evening with a social get-together with the Tablers of Potchefstroom and their wives

 and I must give a special thanks to Round Tabler Louis Janneke and his lovely wife Nadine, who unfortunately when I visited the Carletonville area was recuperating from surgery and so I did not get to see her, but the two travelled all the way from Carletonville to join me and the festivities in Potchefstroom.

So to Nadine and Louis (on the right) many thanks for driving all that way in the cold, it is sincerely appreciated.

Obviously I am not allowed to leave a Round Table area without being presented with the Round Table banner and lapel pin,

 so here I am being pinned and presented with the banner of Round Table Potchefstroom by my host Tabler Johan Van der Walt.

The next morning (Tuesday 28th) I visited the Beares store in Potchefstroom and spent some quality time with the manager of the store, Alida van der Merwe and her friendly staff

 

and here I was provided with some devastating information by one of the sales people in the store, Allan Piercey, the happy looking chappy in the front of the picture. He told me of the incredibly shocking story of how in 2001 his 16 year-old sister was abducted and has never been seen since. Then one year later his 15 year-old sister was abducted and her body was found two weeks later and it was discovered that she had been raped and brutally murdered. Now 10 years later still no arrests have been made and his 16 year-old sister is still missing; I am lost for words to describe how I felt when he related this story to me. I hope to meet with his mom in Rustenburg when I visit the area and she will provide me with more details on the cases so stay tuned to this website for an up date on this horrific story.

I was told that a Thuthuzela Care Centre had been established at the Provincial Hospital in Potchefstroom about 6-8 months ago and so after bidding the Beares staff farewell I headed for the hospital. Unfortunately, as per usual, on entering the hospital premises and enquiring as to the whereabouts of the Thuthuzela Care Centre with the security, all I received was blank looks and the reply “No, this is the hospital, you must have the wrong place”. On entering the hospital and after spending half an hour walking around making enquiries with nurses and even Matrons (I presume they were Matrons’ because they had dark blue type colour uniforms with lots of flashes on their shoulders – very important looking) I was still no closer to locating the whereabouts of the Thuthuzela Care Centre offices, in-fact nobody had even heard of the Thuthuzela Care Centre!!, and so once again very disappointed in the Thuthuzela Care Centre initiative (although a great concept) I made my departure from Potchefstroom and headed in the direction of Klerksdorp.

My accommodation in Klerksdorp was courtesy of the Protea Hotel Klerksdorp and when I arrived at the front desk, the amazing lady, Elrica (damn I never even got her surname) who had done so much to arrange my accommodation, (taking into account the fact that a reservation had been made, cancelled because of my moms sad death and then rearranged) greeted me like visiting royalty and immediately summonsed the General Manager Bertus Kotzee who did likewise.

 Bertus is the cool looking guy with the stripped shirt and Elrica is the stunning lady with the white boots. What an amazing bunch of people at this lovely hotel

Thanks guys your friendship and incredible hospitality is sincerely appreciated.

After a fantastic nights rest, Wednesday morning found me heading for the Klerksdorp Beares store where I was kept busy for most of the day interviewing and chatting to various people who are involved in some way or another in the fight against child rape.

One of the interesting people I spoke to was an officer from the SAPS – FCS unit who confirmed that the rape and sexual abuse of children in the area is happening at a horrendous rate. He also confirmed that the FCS unit covers a very large area and in fact until recently the area was almost double in size with the cluster consisting of 12 outer-lying stations and the furthest police station in their cluster being almost 200 kilometres away. The total FCS staff available to provide services to child rape and domestic violence victims total 14 members. Again I would like to know how many traffic cops are employed in this vast area??

He also confirmed that he believes that the system itself is guilty of abuse and that something drastic has to be done fast in order to stop the scourge of child rape which is increasing at a phenomenal rate across the country. He firmly believes that by implementing the system I mentioned earlier in this blog, regarding cases of child rape going to court once the investigation is complete etc, will make a major difference and undoubtedly have a dramatic effect on increasing the conviction rate in child rape cases.

Based on his experience, he aggress fully that the initial statements, at the time of reporting, as well as the inexperience of the police officials with regard to evidence gathering at the initial point of report, are the major contributing factors to the ridiculously low national conviction rate of 4 – 6%, and therefore fully agrees and supports my proposal for a solution to stopping the rape of children as per the link on the front page of this website.

I met with a number of other people who were instrumental in contributing opinions and comments on the subject of child rape, one in particular was Salomé Mogotsi of ‘Life Line’ who is currently busy studying my proposal and has promised to come back to me with her opinions and comments, but initially also supports the solution based on what I told them, so Salomé I look forward to your constructive criticism.

I was taken by the FCS member to the Tshepong Hospital in the township area of Matlosana to visit the KOSH (Klerksdorp – Orkney – Stilfontein – Hartebeesfontein) Rape Crisis Centre as well as the Thuthuzela Care Centre which is supposed to have been established there 8 months ago. Unfortunately as in all other visits to Thuthuzela Care Centres I was sadly disappointed, once again! The centre is a mere shell; in-fact in this case there isn’t even a shell, and even after 8 months there are two ladies employed there who are basically doing nothing, a total waist of time and money, in-spite of the fact that they are highly motivated and rearing to go, they have nothing to work with. After my chat with the ladies they all wanted to know why I had not been asked to talk at the up-coming ‘Indaba’ on the Thuthuzela Care Centres to be held next month, and that they will make sure the ‘powers that be’ get to hear about me and my proposal because they believe it is the solution. So thanks for your vote of confidence ladies and I look forward to receiving some response from your superiors because to-date I have had no responses from my emails or telephonic messages to the three heads of the Thuthuzela Care Centres or NPA.

After bidding farewell to Lynette Geldenhuys, the Beares store Manager and her friendly staff in Klerksdorp

 I headed back to my Protea Hotel lovely accommodation and prepared for another evening with the Round Tablers this time those of Klerksdorp.

 So after a great evening with the guys I was once again pinned and presented with the Round Table of Klerksdorp’s pin and banner, man my collection is growing at leaps and bounds.

Before leaving the next morning I popped into Round Tabler Jaco Minie’s office to say hi to his lovely wife Lisindra because they had kindly hosted me accommodation on my last project visit to Klerksdorp and to collect yet another Round Table banner and pin from the Round Table guys of the Maltosane Table. Now Jaco has this incredibly amazing car, an Audi V10

and he wanted to swop me his car for Buddy, unfortunately I had to decline the offer because Buddy and I have been through so much together that I did not have the heart to part with him (can you believe that? Mmmmm I don’t think soJ)

On my way to Kroonstad later that day (Thursday 30th June) and when I was about 15 kilometres out of Kroonstad, a stone, more like a rock, was thrown up from the wheel of an oncoming car and hit Buddy’s windscreen directly in-front of my face.

 It sounded like I had been shot at and so ducked and hit brakes, but fortunately the rock had not penetrated all the way through, but had splattered glass from the inside into my face, but no damage done, now just an extra expense and so “does anyone know a windscreen replacement business that will kindly sponsor me a new windscreen?!”.

My visit to the Beares store in Kroonstad was an interesting one,

in the sense that the country was experiencing a major problem with all the cell phone networks down. I had my cell phone services suspended because “I had not registered with RICA” in-spite of the fact that I had done this three months earlier and had confirmed it on the sms number provided by the cell phone company, “sorry we made a mistake’ but fortunately their service was good and I was reconnected immediately, and this was about 8 hours before the ‘big cut-off’ was due to happen.

My accommodation in Kroonstad was hosted for the evening by Round Tabler Ferdi Klopper and his wife Collette on their lovely farm which is situated about 30 kilometres Jo’burg side of Klerksdorp. The trip to the farm involved a drive of about 7 kilometres along a gravel road and this time it was undoubtedly better than the last time I had had to travel the road on project 2 in January 2010 when after some really heavy rains the gravel road had pools of water up to a metre deep and mud like you won’t believe.

 Buddy’s and my lovely accommodation at the Klopper farm, mine fortunately being inside.

 So now meet Ferdi and Collette Klopper. And then, yep you guessed, I was pinned once again and presented with the Kroonstad Round Table banner

The next morning (Friday 1st July) after bidding farewell to the Klopper family and thanking them for their kind friendship and hospitality, I headed out in freezing conditions to first Odendaalsrus where I spent some quality time with the Beares staff

 and after a chat with some people which included the police who could not provide me with anything new, but confirmed child rape is happening on a massive scale and getting worse by the day, I headed for Wesselsbron where I met the Beares staff there.

 There wasn’t much to learn here either and all the information was pretty repetitive stuff, so I headed out of Wesselsbron in still freezing conditions and made my way to Welkom where I was kindly hosted accommodation by Round Tabler Etienne Van Wyk.

 Etienne has a lovely granny flat attached to his house so I was able to spend the weekend catching up on work on Buddy which involved finishing the fibre glassing and painting of the storage box lid Cameron had so kindly made for me in Sasolburg last weekend, getting my washing done, attending a Round Table function and ‘progressive’ dinner – Pic to be supplied by Round Table - which involved travelling to various Tablers houses for each part of the dinner, very interesting concept, and of course me being pinned and presented with the Welkom Round Table pin and banner by the Table Chairman Gert Loots.

So that about brings me to the end of this blog, and I am sure Julia in Jo’burg is once again saying “and thank goodness for that”, and once again Julia you have my sincere apologies for such a long blog and so many photos, but I honestly did not get a chance to do a blog during the week, in-fact I hardly got any sleep this past week, but hopefully I will get one done on Wednesday in Bloemfontein or Kimberly and so can do a shorter blog with not so many photos. (Julia of CP’s Pub in Lambton Germiston kindly converts my blogs from email form into whatever form is needed to post them onto my website and because of the length of my blogs spends many sleepless hours doing it J many thanks Julia).

So with that I will bid you ciao for now, keep well, stay safe and above all keep all children safe.

Caring regards from

Buddy (The beach Buggy)

And

Me’ (Steve Heath)

Please send your 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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