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Sep '09

Day 45: Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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This morning I was up, showered and packed and ready to head out just after 7am. Pieter, Dillon and I stood chatting waiting for the time to pass so I could head for the Maroela Crisis Home where I was to meet Altea Prinsloo and her team at 8am. Deidre was still sleeping (ja Deidre, it’s great to be married to and working for the boss, né!). I’m really sorry I didn’t see you before my departure and so I will have to say it on my blog, I know you will be following my progress through the website/blog. Thank you very much for all you have done for me so far and for what you are going to do for me with regard to ensuring all the Round Tablers ahead are aware of me and Buddy and the crusade we are on and thank you and Pieter for your kind hospitality and friendship. To all the other guys and their wives of Round Table, thank you for the magic evening and keep up the good work you are doing in the Phalaborwa area for the underprivileged.

The visit to the ‘Maroela Crisis Home proved to be very interesting. Altea and her band of caregivers provide accommodation, care and support to abused woman and children in really lovely accommodation which is funded solely through fund raising and the Round Table of Phalaborwa. We had an interesting chat about the child rape situation and it appears that she agrees with many woman I have had the opportunity to talk to about the ‘new’ sexual offences act – 32 of 2007 section 54 – which states that “any person who fails to report a child rape or rape of a mentally disabled person is guilty of an offence”, and this includes parents, teachers and NGO’s. I was told by one teacher that she had been told by a policeman that if she believed that the child or mentally disabled person as the act/section provides for, had in fact not been raped, she is not bound by the act to report it. I have been through this act and I can’t find anything to substantiate this claim and as far as I’m concerned; and I hope to get legal clarity on the point soon, that anyone who is made aware of a rape of a child or mentally disabled person should report it, then it is up to the police to determine whether or not a rape had taken place.

Unfortunately many teachers and NGO’s believe that this section of the act is creating a problem with breaking the child’s trust, which the child places in the teacher or NGO/welfare worker. The other side of the coin is of course that by the child telling the teacher/NGO/welfare worker, she or he wishes them to take the matter further and by not reporting it to the authorities it is letting the child down. It’s definitely a catch 22 situation and I would really like to receive comments and opinions on this point.

I could have sat chatting to Alrea all morning but unfortunately I had to get to Tzaneen by 11am and so after thanking her and her friendly staff for allowing me the opportunity to visit their lovely facilities and to chat with them, I headed out on the road to Tzaneen. Once again the area stood up to its reputation and it proved to be a scorching hot day. The road was exactly the same as the previous day’s drive with just slight inclines and Buddy loved it. The road was also, once again, lined with game farm fences and I enjoyed spotting game throughout the drive, lots of wild boar/pig and buck – all sorts don’t ask me to identify the species they are buck!

On arriving at the filling station where I was instructed to meet the Beares giant bear and the traffic department who were going to escort me to the Beares store, I stopped, filled up with petrol and enjoyed a sausage roll and orange juice, man it was hot, 10:30am and the temperature was already 29.7 degrees C. The traffic department couldn’t make it so the giant bear (Sam) and I headed into Tzaneen destined for the Beares store. I shuddered to think how hot he must have been in that thick suit and must have been suffering like crazy in it (thanks Sam for your dedication to the cause). Oh yes, while waiting at the filling station, a taxi pulled into the car wash and I couldn’t help taking a picture of Buddy standing next to it, notice the wording on the back window of the taxi!

Buddy, the bear and the rear of the taxi – A taxi called ‘Buddy’

Buddy, the bear and the rear of the taxi – A taxi called ‘Buddy’

At the Beares store I was told that arrangements had been made for me to meet a policeman from the FCS (Child Protection Unit) of the Tzaneen police station but unfortunately he was called away to a meeting and so could not make the appointment. After a chat with the Beares staff, a really great and friendly bunch of people, I was shown the way to the Maake Beares store, which is situated 25 kilometres outside of Tzaneen, by my giant bear, Sam.

Beares Staff Tzaneen, Beares store window in background

Beares Staff Tzaneen

The Maake store is situated right out in the middle of nowhere with a fantastic big mountain close by, a really magic setting. The people were really friendly and as usual everyone I passed on the drive was calling out, whistling and waving, Sam thought he was royalty the way he was waving and smiling.

Beares staff Maake

Beares staff Maake

By the time we got back to the store it was three thirty and as I was about to leave, a white Mazda pulled up outside the store. The occupant turned out to be the policeman who was supposed to have come to meet me, and what a fortuitous meeting this turned out to be. He introduced himself as “Captain Rain, you know that stuff that falls from the sky, Moreku”, and after re-entering the store we sat down and engaged in one of the best chats I have had with a policeman. I have now been fortunate enough to have met four of the most dedicated policemen I have ever had the good fortune to meet. He explained that he had been associated with the child protection unit or FCS as it is now sort of known, for I think it is 11 years. He believes that unfortunately the powers that be are creating chaos with the department by leaving ‘things’ hanging in the air. He believes that the original child protection unit, which was highly successful, should have been left alone to carry on doing its good work. He also confirmed that the raping of children in the area is really bad and is happening at a monstrous rate on a daily basis. Unfortunately the 12 man investigation staff who he believes is more than adequately qualified to handle the job is unable to perform their duties properly due to the major shortage of transport. Presently they have five vehicles allocated to the department, but at any one time there are usually no more than two available for investigation purposes. This is due to the vehicles being very old and in poor roadworthy condition – this sounds extremely similar to the situation which was explained to me back in Empangeni and Pongola. He also believes that the extremely low conviction rate which is experienced, particularly in this area but also throughout the country, is due to incompetent prosecutors who are “not qualified to take on the high powered attorneys appointed and paid for by the government to defend the culprits”.

Captain Rain Moreku was awarded the Top Detective for 2006/7 award and believe me deserves it again. He is undoubtedly one of the most dedicated policemen I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and I can only hope and pray that we can get more policemen of this calibre into the South African Police Service.

My accommodation for tonight was arranged by the Round Tablers of Tzaneen and provided courtesy of Clair’s Cottages, so following my chat with the good Captain, Dale Eberhard (Chairman of Tzaneen Round Table) met me at the Beares store and I followed him to Clair’s Cottages where I dropped off the trailer and immediately headed for the offices of the Local newspaper, The Herald, for an interview. Dale joined me earlier this evening for a few cold frosties on the veranda of my lovely accommodation and we chatted while the sweltering heat of the day slowly gave way to the lovely cool evening air. We were joined by Clair, whose family own this really magic B&B which has 12 lovely self catering chalets and rooms and of course we had a lengthy chat about the project and the severity of the scourge which is sweeping across our beautiful country. So to the Round Tablers of Tzaneen, who unfortunately I only got to meet one of, and to Clair and her family, thank you from the bottom of our hearts, from both Buddy and me for providing us with the magic accommodation. If anyone is ever passing through Tzaneen or needs accommodation of a top calibre standard here are the contact details for Clair’s Cottages:

Web-site: www.clairscottages.co.za
E-mail: clairscottages@gmail.com

Dale Eberhard Chairman Round Table, Tzaneen

Dale Eberhard Chairman Round Table, Tzaneen

So now once again it’s after midnight and I am going to bed. So keep well, keep the e-mails coming in – I need your opinions and recommendations on what needs to be done to stop the raping of our kids.

Caring regards
Buddy and Me (Steve)

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