Posted by Julia
Categories: Buddy and Me
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Well it seems like, and in fact is, ages since I last posted a blog, and so I thought I better sit down and do one to update what has been happening in the lives of ‘Buddy and Me’.
So after a fantastic weekend at the ‘SATVIK Back-packers’ situated a short way out side of Tzaneen on the banks of the Tzaneen Dam, (for details see blog 47) Monday morning ‘Buddy and Me’ headed into Tzaneen where we met up with a large group of kids from a local school as well as guests in the form of members of the local police constabulary, social workers and members of the local press,
and obviously the staff of the Beares store in Tzaneen.
One of the many conversations/discussions I had during my visit to Tzaneen, and in fact I can confidently say that this particular discussion which has been raised many times during the ‘Buddy and Me’ project has proved to be undoubtedly the biggest controversial subject discussed, and that is the issue of ‘fund raising’ by so many organisations to be found scattered around South Africa, for the purpose of supporting abandoned, neglected, and abused children, as well as for the support of babies and children who are born HIV positive due to pregnancy.
Based on my discussions with South Africans right across our country, it is painfully obvious that the public and corporate’s of South Africa are tired of continuously being approached by people and organisations to contribute towards the support of children who are being abandoned, neglected and born by mothers who in-spite of being fully aware of their HIV/AIDS status and aware of the consequences of falling pregnant, bring children into the world.
Virtually every day, in discussions, I hear members of the public, as well as ‘government officials’ in the form of social workers and policemen and women, saying “the government is far too ‘soft’ on people (parents) who continuously bring children into the world knowing that they cannot afford to support them, and after enjoying the pleasures of making the babies expect everyone else to pay to raise them”.
The government is spending hundreds of millions of Rands every month in ‘child grants’ knowing that only a very small portion of these grants is being used by the parents for the benefit of the child, in the majority of cases the ‘child grant’ is being used for the purchase of TV’s and other pleasures and luxuries of life by the parents, particularly in the cases of single mothers and in particular HIV/AIDS positive women who get the additional grants for their HIV positive children. (For details on the information I was provided with while in Howick on this subject see blog 9)
The general consensus is that in instances where children are found to be abused, neglected and abandoned and are placed in ‘institutions’ such as the one I wrote about in blog 43 and which is situated in Mafikeng, the parents must be held responsible and accountable and be placed in ‘work farms – factories/prisons’ and be forced to produce food and clothing for the children.
Discussions with people across the length and breadth of South Africa, and this includes those of all races and from many different walks of life, have revealed that they are tired of seeing films and pictures of starving and abandoned children, not only in South Africa, but throughout AFRICA as a whole, and everyone is expected to just keep coughing up to support these starving babies and children while men and women keep enjoying the pleasures of making them and are not being held accountable and responsible for subjecting the kids to the devastating pain and suffering we are seeing on a daily basis.
“WE HAVE TO CURE THE PROBLEM AND NOT JUST KEEP SUPPORTING IT BY FUNDING IT – AND THE SAME GOES FOR THE RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE OF CHILDREN”
I also visited the Beares store in Maake,
which is about 20 kilometres outside of Tzaneen and in order to reach this place I had to travel through a large a township area where I managed to speak to a number of the local residents, in particular women, who confirmed that ‘Hooow the raping of children and young girls in this area is veeeery bad” and it was also confirmed that “There is no use in reporting it to the police, because nothing happens”.
From Tzaneen ‘Buddy and Me’ headed for Phalaborwa where I was kindly hosted accommodation by the Round Table Chairman of Phalaborwa Pieter Van der Merwe and his lovely wife Deidre.
and I spent a magic evening braaing and chatting to the Round Tablers of Phalaborwa and their wives.
Then it was time for a visit to the Beares store in Phalaborwa
where I had an interesting chat with a lady from the local press as well as with a few other guests from the local community. I established that the police station has a well equipped ‘Victim Support Room’ and is generally kept quite busy, mainly by victims of rape, as in young girls in the 14 – 18 year-old age category which invariably results in the case being closed due to the ‘rapists’ paying the young girl and her parents money.
So what happened to the legislation in the form of the ‘Sexual Offences Act 32/2007’ which clearly defines the fact that sex with a girl in this age category constitutes ‘RAPE’? I must admit that in-spite of having read the Act a number of times; I have failed to locate the section which states that “Should the rapist pay an agreed upon sum of money to the victim and or her parents, the case of rape (statutory rape) will be dropped”??
From Phalaborwa ‘Buddy and Me’ headed for Hoedspruit and immediately on arriving in the area headed for the Klaserie Dam where I set up camp.
This resort must be one of the loveliest and most tranquil resorts one can wish to camp in. It is surrounded by large game farms and in the morning I was woken by the sound of what appeared to be three very large lions roaring and grunting close by. I am told that the sound of a lion roaring, grunting, travels for kilometres, but these sounded pretty close, I also heard hyena and this is a particularly weird sound.
My visit to the Beares store in Hoedspruit
resulted in a very lengthy interview with the editor of the local newspaper ‘Kruger/Canyon’ and which identified the fact that the local police are rated as being amongst the most corrupt police officials in South Africa, mmm I must admit that’s not exactly what I would like my town to be renown for?
It was also confirmed that child rape is occurring on a large scale in the area, along with the rape of women as well as domestic violence on a very large scale and that there is a “pretty good and effective ‘Victim Support Group’” which is comprised of a group of local residents who have joined together to assist victims of rape and domestic violence. Once again there is no sign of any form of assistance from government in this regard and if the residents do not provide this service and fund it, the victims would just have to suffer in silence, as they do in the majority of areas around South Africa.
I was told that the police station has a ‘Victim Support Room’ but as was in the case of Thabazimbi, as well as a few other police stations I visited, when I arrived at the police station and asked to see the
‘Victim Support Room’ and to meet the person who is in charged of it, I was told “Sorry the room is locked and the person who is responsible for it (Jamela) is not here, I don’t know when she will be back and we can’t contact her”. I rest my case!!
Because of the postponement of the ‘Child Abuse Symposium’ which was to be held in Cape Town on the 11th and 12th of August by ‘The TygerBear Clinic’ and at which I was going to be a guest speaker, I was forced to take a break for the past week and so headed to Jo’burg to sort out a few personal things which amongst others was to get a new batch of flyers printed, and by the way – if there is anyone out there who wants to contribute to the ‘Buddy and Me’ project in the form of sponsoring the printing of the flyers your assistance will be greatly appreciated.
I spent the weekend with friends Jaco Labuschagene and Celeste Grobler
and on Tuesday morning headed for Villiers on the banks of the Vaal River with Wonder Woman – June Porter – where we proceeded to enjoy a relaxing few days camping
and fishing, and just to prove it!
In-spite of the fact that I’m wearing a ‘Springbok’ rugby jersey, the arms spread in celebration was for the successful catch and successful release of a fish, not the continued dismal performance of our national rugby team.
On the drive back to Jo’burg on Sunday, we stopped off at the ‘Total Petro-port’ filling station halfway between Heidelberg and Jo’burg to fill up both Buddy’s forever empty stomach (petrol tank) as well as our own. On entering the restaurant and waiting for our food and drinks order, a gentleman seated at the table adjacent to ours commented that he could not fail to notice Buddy in the car park and enquired about the project. After an interesting chat, he asked for the ‘Buddy and Me’ website details and so I provided him with a project flyer/brochure and he bid us farewell. On requesting our bill for our food and drinks we were told by the waitress that the gentleman we had been talking to had already paid our bill.
I have often mentioned that I am blessed to meet so many incredibly amazing people on this project, and this is a classic example of what I mean. I unfortunately only know the gentleman as ‘Ian’, so I sincerely hope that Ian reads my blogs and accepts mine and June’s sincere thanks and appreciation for your wonderfully kind gesture.
Another interesting comment which was made recently in a discussion, is concerning the fact that “extensive coverage is given to Julius Malema by all forms of the media in South Africa every time he opens his mouth and sprouts the garbage that usually comes out of it, yet in-spite of continuously having forwarded the details of the ‘Buddy and Me’ project to the SABC and other TV channels, none of them have bothered to contact me in order to expose the information revealed by the research I have undertaken on the subject of child rape, and it would appear that they are just as unconcerned about the shocking situation as our government is”.
So if there is anyone out there who is in a position to whisper in the ear of someone connected with the media, in the form of radio or TV or national press, please pass on my contact details to them, it will be sincerely appreciated.
Well that about covers all, or rather a portion, of the travels and discussions ‘Buddy and Me’ were involved in over the past 2 weeks, and so on Tuesday morning ‘Buddy and Me’ will be heading back to the Mpumalanga region and will be continuing our “Buddy and Me’ crusade to ensure that our government does everything necessary to eradicate the scourge of the rape and sexual abuse of children from our society.
So I will bid you farewell for now, keep well and stay safe, and lets pray that our government wakes up and does what is necessary to protect our country’s greatest asset “Our children” and ensures that they are all kept safe.
Caring regards from
‘Buddy (The Beach Buggy)
Me’ (Steve Heath)
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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.