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Nov '09

Day 109-110: Wednesday and Thursday, 18-19 November 2009

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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My new itinerary to the end of the South African leg…. Namibian and Botswana legs to follow shortly.

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:

Bobbi Bear Foundation (KwaZulu-Natal)
The Teddy Bear Clinic (Gauteng)
The TygerBear Foundation (Western Cape)
GRIP (Mpumalanga)
StepThru (Gauteng)

I have decided to combine these two days because nothing really exceptional happened on either day – actually they were both days which will stand out in my memory for a long time, and that’s because I was socialising with my host in Zeerust and by the time we finished I was too tired/lazy to do my blog yesterday and so have to combine them, so there you have it, the truth!

So to start, yesterday morning I was up, showered, dressed and packed by 7am and after a scrumptious breakfast prepared by that crazy lady Marietjie, with her own hands nog al, I thanked her and Paul for their unbelievably kind hospitality, generosity and friendship and bid them both farewell. It had rained throughout the night, but at the time I was not concerned because I was snug as a bug in a rug watching another shocking display of rugby by the Springboks and losing to yet another English club side and being beaten 24-23 by Saracens, but let’s not dwell on that – watching them being beaten again was punishment enough, so back to my departure. Fortunately the rain had stopped by this time although the sky was still very overcast and the rain was threatening to start over again. On approaching Buddy I discovered that Marietjie had left enough evidence of my visit to El Shadai to remind me of the place for a long time to come. She had written El Shadai BB on the Beares stickers on Buddy’s sides as well as attached her business card to the metal strip above the windscreen so that, as I climbed in, this was the first thing I saw.

At the Lubners store I met a local newspaper reporter, Michelle Loubser from ‘Die Kwêvoël’ newspaper, who I think will produce a really good article for the local residents to peruse and who will hopefully respond by e-mailing me with their comments and opinions on child rape or submitting their comments to my website blog.

After a chat with the staff I had to make a hurried departure so that I could drive the 278 kilometre drive to Zeerust and make the scheduled visit to the Beares store there, which opened, I think, at the end of October this year.

<i>Thabazimbi <b>Lubners</b> staff – Marietjie's crazy friend Elna, the store manager is third from the left; I cannot believe that it’s legal for two crazy women like these two to be allowed to reside in a town the size of Thabazimbi at the same time</i>

Thabazimbi Lubners staff – Marietjie's crazy friend Elna, the store manager is third from the left; I cannot believe that it’s legal for two crazy women like these two to be allowed to reside in a town the size of Thabazimbi at the same time

<i>Mandy and Reinette insisted on having their pictures taken while trying out Buddy’s comforts</i>

Mandy and Reinette insisted on having their pictures taken while trying out Buddy’s comforts

Soon after leaving Thabazimbi, in fact I was only about ten k’s out of the town, the rain started coming down and I had to stop and fit the roll on canvas canopy and put on my rainsuit and the rain continued right up until about 10 kilometres from Zeerust. During our chat the previous night, Marietjie had told me about a ‘short cut’ to Zeerust which is, according to her, about 80 to 100 kilometres shorter than the route via Rustenburg, where I had left the trailer. She convinced me that I should take this route rather than going via Rustenburg and so I contacted Francoise of Round Table in Rustenburg who had offered to tow the trailer to Zeerust because he had to go there on business and he confirmed that he would take the trailer through to Zeerust.

The decision to take this route ended up to be a really bad one. The road is in a terrible condition with huge pot holes and bad corrugation and if this wasn’t enough the rain made the drive a real nightmare. When I passed the entrance to Sun City I decided that seeing as Buddy has never been to the Casino and the fact that the rain had eased for a few minutes I would keep in his good books and get a photy of him at least at the entrance, so here’s Buddy at the entrance to Sun City itching to go in and win a million so that he can get all snooted up.

<i>Buddy dying to go in and get pampered by the parking attendants in <b>Sun City</b></i>

Buddy dying to go in and get pampered by the parking attendants in Sun City

After passing the Sundowner Ranch and arriving at the turn off to Lindleyspoort, I took the turning to the right and continued as instructed. After about seven kilometres and after cresting a rise in the road I got a glimpse of the road stretching out far into the distance, and my heart did a double skip and even Buddy’s engine skipped a beat. As far as I could see into the distance the tar road disappeared and was replaced by a gravel road. Road works were underway and for exactly how far the gravel road continued, I had no clue. I started on the gravel road but after travelling for about one and a half kilometres, I decided that if I continued with this devastatingly rough road which was made worse by the rain, Buddy would shake and rattle himself to pieces and would probably hold it against me for the rest of his days. So with this in mind, I stopped, made a perfect three point turn and headed back to the tar road.

Not being able to take the Lindleyspoort road to Swartruggens and then on to Zeerust meant that I would now have to take the road to Rustenburg and then on to Zeerust. When I had driven to Thabazimbi from Rustenburg, the trip involved driving 148 kilometres and took me exactly two hours because the road was great and flat, by the time I arrived back in Rustenburg this time I had driven 167 kilometres and it had taken me four hours! But this wasn’t the end of my frustrations. After passing through Swartruggens there is a toll and this toll has to be the biggest rip off in the country. The cost is R61-00 and if this ridiculous cost is not bad enough, the road is a single lane, not even a double lane, so you get stuck behind the trucks, of which there are plenty, and to cap it all, the road surface leaves a lot to be desired, absolute daylight robbery!

About ten kilometres out of Zeerust the rain stopped and the sun sort of filtered through the clouds and when I drove into Zeerust all I could think of was the magic cup of coffee which was hopefully waiting for me at the Beares store and which was placed in my hand by one of Nico Thorne, the store manager’s staff within minutes of me entering the store.

During our chat the previous night, Marietjie had asked where I would be staying in Zeerust and because Round Table unfortunately doesn’t have a Table in Zeerust I told her that I would still have to beg a bed for the night when I got there. She started making phone calls and before I arrived in Zeerust she confirmed that arrangements had been made with Gerhard Visser who owns the Vissersrus Guesthouse for me to spend the night there, sponsored. What can I say, this crazy woman can really get things organised.

By the time I had drunk my life saving cup of coffee and chatted to the really friendly bunch of guys at the Zeereust Beares store, it was already after 4pm, so I phoned Gerhard who arrived a few minutes later and I followed him to where Francoise had left my trailer and we drove to the Vissersrus Guesthouse, and yes the rain had started again so not having put my rainsuit on after leaving the store I was wet.

<i>Zeerust <b>Beares</b> staff – another store with the <b>Beares</b> new look signage</i>

Zeerust Beares staff – another store with the Beares new look signage

I met Ouma (granny) Visser who is 74 years young and walks into town, about three kilometres, frequently during the week to do her shopping, and Gerhard’s friend Kleintjie. After getting settled in my chalet Gerhard insisted on taking me to meet his buddies at the bowling club down the road where we obviously indulged in a few cold frosties and I got to meet a few of the local residents and chatted about the project and got to learn a bit about the lifestyle in Zeerust. Unfortunately the town has deteriorated badly over the past 10-15 years, but compared to my last visit in 2006 there have been attempts to get it cleaned up a bit.

As usual all comments made confirmed that child rape in the area is rampant and once again the residents are not overjoyed with the attitude of the police and their ability in controlling crime in general let alone solve the child rape crisis.

<i>Gerhard, alias Gert, alias Kattie (as in Afrikaans for cat fish), Ouma Visser and Kleintjie</i>

Gerhard, alias Gert, alias Kattie (as in Afrikaans for cat fish), Ouma Visser and Kleintjie

Gerhard and I got back from the bowling club just after 8:30pm and with heavy cloud overhead, but no rain – for the moment anyway. We started a fire and braaied and after supper, which included a lovely potato salad and green salad prepared by Ouma Visser, and after a few more cold ones we retired to bed somewhere around midnight, hence my blog not being done, and if you are wondering, yes soon after braaing it started raining, in fact it poured and continued to do so right through the night. I was really glad I was snug in a comfortable chalet but unfortunately Buddy had to sleep out in the rain and so he’ll probably hold it against me and give me grief.

This morning when I woke at 5am it was still raining pretty hard and I thought maybe I should just stay in bed and cancel the day due to lack of interest, but there were people waiting for me in Mmbatho and Mafikeng so I didn’t have any choice but to get up, shower, pack and hit the road again. So after a cup of coffee and thanking Gerhard and Ouma Visser for their kind hospitality I was driving out of Zeerust at 8:30 in the miserable rain.

Now if I had thought the countryside between Rustenburg and Thabazimbi had been flat, that is like the Canadian Rockies compared to the countryside between Zeerust and Mafikeng. The road and the countryside, is completely flat and you can see for miles in all directions and all you see is thousands (actually millions) of thorn trees/shrubs. In spite of the rain I thoroughly enjoyed the drive and was only disappointed that because of the rain I could not stop as I usually do and talk to the local residents walking on the side of the road and working in the fields.

My visit to the Mmbatho Beares store was a great one and I got to meet a lady by the name of Kelebogile Thebe who works at an organisation called Boikagong Child and Care Centre who provide shelter and support to children who are victims of domestic violence as well as those who have been abandoned by their mothers at birth. I was once again told how the child grants being paid randomly by the government are causing more problems than good. She told me that although they don’t get involved in many child rape cases themselves, there is an organisation based at the local hospital called Thuthuzela whose main function is providing a support structure for, specifically, child rape victims in the area. She did however confirm that the raping of children, like everywhere else, is completely out of control and that very few, only the really bad cases where the child requires serious medical assistance, are reported.

<i><b>Beares</b> Mmbatho staff</i>

Beares Mmbatho staff

I made a visit to the Thuthuzela offices in the hope of getting an interview with someone there but unfortunately because an appointment had not been made, the senior lady was out and I was told that she is the only person who is allowed to talk to me on the subject of child rape. So feeling very disappointed, because I really wanted to talk to them and hopefully get a new line and views on the subject of child rape, I headed out of Mafikeng for Lichtenburg which is 70 kilometres away from Zeerust. I had intended to stay overnight in Mafikeng but I was told by the Beares store manager that all attempts to obtain sponsored accommodation for the night in Mafikeng had been met with flat refusals, so I decided to rather go through to Lichtenburg where, on the previous project, I had been provided with fantastic accommodation at the Lichtenburg Game Breeding Centre which has a lovely game reserve, and when Carol Ann of the Beares store in Lichtenburg contacted Abel Motladi at the park I wasn’t to be disappointed. When I arrived at the park gate, and on seeing Buddy and me, Abel greeted me like a long lost family member.

Because it was already almost four o’clock in the afternoon and the fact that although the rain had relented for a short while, it was obvious that it was going to come back with a vengeance, I unhooked the trailer and did a quick drive through the game park and within a few hundred metres of passing through the gates I encountered my first animals.

<i>I think this is Rudolf although I couldn’t see his red nose with his mate</i>

I think this is Rudolf although I couldn’t see his red nose with his mate

<i>And this is the latest addition to the sleigh team for this Christmas</i>

And this is the latest addition to the sleigh team for this Christmas

<i>This is <b>Big Daddy</b>, which reminds me, what is the difference between an Australian Baison and an American Bison? – you can’t wash your hands in an American Bison – get it, if not contact me by e-mail and I’ll draw you a picture</i>

This is Big Daddy, which reminds me, what is the difference between an Australian Baison and an American Bison? – you can’t wash your hands in an American Bison – get it, if not contact me by e-mail and I’ll draw you a picture

While driving and keeping a wary eye on the weather, I went around a bend in the road and suddenly found three rhinos, a mommy, a daddy and junior standing no more than about 80 metres from the edge of the road. I don’t know who got the bigger fright, me or them, but fortunately they scuffled off in the opposite direction to Buddy and me. I managed to get a photo but couldn’t get one of them with the baby, the two adults made sure that they were always between me and the baby.

I saw a lot of buck and Blue Wildebeest but it started to rain and so I headed for the chalet where you won’t believe this, I decided to cook a chicken curry for my night’s meal. So now having eaten, I am finishing off my double blog – Gail will probably curse me for it – so I will say good night and wish you well for Friday – tomorrow. It’s now ten to ten in the evening, I am really tired and it’s still pouring outside. I hope to get some interesting information on child rape in Lichtenburg tomorrow, because all the info I have been given lately is pretty repetitive and so I have not mentioned it in my blogs, but hopefully I can be given something different and new tomorrow. Also please contact me on my e-mail or blog if you have any comments or opinions on the subject of child rape. So with that, keep well and, of course, keep all children safe.

Caring regards from
Buddy and Me (Steve Heath)

To assist with Buddy’s medical aid (recouping the R9 960.00 spent on repairs to engine and installation of new gearbox, starter motor and front suspension), please make a deposit into the following account:

  Bank: First National
  Branch: Lambton
  Branch code: 251542
  Acc name: Buddy and Me
  Acc number: 622 327 236 78
  Ref: Buddy’s medical aid

All assistance, no matter how small, is greatly appreciated. Any excess collected above the necessary amount, will be donated to the three organisations involved in the project, namely The Teddy Bear Clinic, Bobbi Bear Foundation and The TygerBear Clinic.

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