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Nov '09

Day 117: Thursday, 26 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)

Today proved to be a very busy and interesting day for ‘Buddy and Me’. The day started with a great breakfast – when Round Table arrange my accommodation and throw in breakfast as well I must, after all, make good use of it – my budget doesn’t usually provide for such luxuries so it went down very well. Then it was off to the Beares store where I made a few phone calls to set up some appointments for the day and the first appointment was with Ntombizandile at the Thuthuzela Care Centre which is based at the Galeshewe Day Hospital in the Galeshewe Township on the outskirts of Kimberley.

Ntombizanile proved to be a very capable lady and is very dedicated to her job at the care centre, but unfortunately although I am convinced that the Thuthuzela Care Centre (TCC’s) is an inspiration as far as its original concept is concerned, and by that I mean the services which the organisation was originally designed to provide to victims of domestic violence and in particular rape victims is concerned, it has not met these expectations, and this after having been open for six years!

Quite honestly after entering the hospital grounds, which as usual with most hospital facilities in South Africa, is dirty and the grounds are overgrown with weeds and litter lying everywhere, I cannot believe that the management of the hospital as well as the officials from the department of health who are supposed to visit the hospitals can drive into these facilities and see what filthy state they are in and just ignore it, surely it must indicate that they themselves don’t have any self respect allowing a hospital facility to degenerate to such a state. The Thuthuzela facilities however are very clean and pleasant and on meeting Ntombizanile she presented me with a brochure on the TCC which outlines the facilities offered by the organisation precisely as I was told by Matilo in Kuruman.

Ntombizanile confirmed that the facility was opened during 2003 which means that it has been operational for 6 years. I then went through the brochure with her asking about the facilities offered by the TCC and was told exactly what I anticipated hearing. Of the services identified in the brochure, the main services required by a rape victim are not provided by the centre and these are:

  • A dedicated investigating officer is not available. The centre is sent a policeman/woman from the Kimberley police station to open a case, how long this takes varies considerably depending on how busy the police are?? And of course if they have transport available – have you ever phoned the police and experienced how long they take to respond? Sometimes, I was informed, they are told to send the victim to the police station to report the matter once all the necessary examinations have been concluded! This is not a dedicated investigation office as stated in the brochure.
  • They are not permitted to make use of the EM Services, ambulance services; the EM services head in Frankfurt confirmed to me that they are not permitted to transport rape victims in ambulances. According to the brochure, “The survivor is offered transport by an ambulance or the investigating officer”. The victim is always transported in the back of a police van, once again, trauma on trauma and the victim is made to feel like a criminal by being transported in the back of a police van.
  • They do not have a dedicated legal expert as in a prosecutor or ex-prosecutor to provide the victim with support in the form of court procedures.

Based on my visit to the TCC in Galeshewe, I do believe that the idea and concept of the organisation is a very good one and believe that if it is applied and instituted as it is stated in the brochure, it would be a tremendous support structure for victims of rape and domestic violence. The problem is that, we frequently see some great ideas being generated by South African politicians and government employees, but unfortunately no sooner do the ideas get formulated and begin the process of applying them when the individuals are removed from office for whatever reason, usually for stealing money or corruption, and someone else is appointed and the ‘new broom’ policy is adapted and so the planning for new systems starts all over again or the previous individuals ideas are shelved when the “new broom” starts his or her own new plans and ideas.

From the TCC I headed for the Department of Social Development where I met yet another very friendly and interesting lady by the name of Masego. She explained the structure of the Department of Social Development and how the sub Department of Social Welfare Services fits into the Department as well as the structure of the Thuthuzela Care Centres and how they fit into the whole story. She confirmed that the NPA (National Prosecuting Authority) is technically the founder of the TCC, being the brain child of the programme and that the other ‘stakeholders’ include the Departments of Social Development along with all their sub directorates, the police, the Department of Justice as well as the Department of Health.

I find it absolutely amazing that after coming up with such a tremendous concept and with so many different government departments involved, that they, after 9 years of starting the programme, still have not got their act together and are not providing the victims of rape and domestic violence with the basic support structure which they themselves (the TCC) profess to provide in their own brochure.

Later, during a discussion, an old friend from the Kimberley Rotary Club, Geoff van Rensburg who also happens to be the Chairman of the Rate Payers’ Association, told me that 7 of Kimberley’s Board of City Councillors had been sacked after a case had been opened with the police for the embezzlement of 50 million Rand. The money was stolen in one foul swoop from one contract. Evidently a company (a ‘white’ owned company quoted 32 million Rand to install (I think) meters for pre-paid electricity, another company (a BEE company) quoted 93 million Rand for exactly the same job and was awarded the contract. The Town Manager and Executive Vice Mayor were involved and on being dismissed and with the criminal case still pending, have been appointed to government positions. Later in another discussion it was suggested that perhaps this is the manner in which the ANC political party is being funded? It certainly gave me food for thought!

I visited the DFA newspaper offices and on entering the building the sky was clear, there were just a few clouds dotted around the sky and it had been a real scorcher all day. Twenty minutes into my interview with Sandy, the paper’s reporter, another lady came in and said “Steve it’s pouring with rain and your buggy’s open”. I wasn’t fazed about Buddy being in the rain but I could not believe it was raining. By the time I finished the interview and left the DFA offices it had stopped raining, but 4 times during the day with an almost clear sky overhead it rained and not just lightly, it poured and the drops were huge, it actually felt like I was being hit by hail, but fortunately the rain would only last for about 10 – 15 minutes at a time.

In between the downpours of rain I managed to get a picture of the “Big Hole of Kimberley”, I mean, one can’t visit Kimberley and not see the main attraction, although at the price they charge just to see a big hole in the ground I was tempted to pass it up, but I decided, what the hell I’m sure there are a lot of people visiting my website who have never seen the Big Hole so here it is.

<i>The “Big Hole of Kimberley” with the city of Kimberley in all its glory in the back ground</i>

The “Big Hole of Kimberley” with the city of Kimberley in all its glory in the back ground

Then I popped into the Beares store to chat with the staff and say farewell and in particular to thank the store manager, Fiona, for all the hard work she put into setting up appointments for me and generally running around trying to make my visit to Kimberley the great one it was, so thanks Fiona and all the friendly guys at Beares Kimberley, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit.

<i>Kimberley <b>Beares</b> staff – Fiona is the lovely lady 3rd from the right</i>

Kimberley Beares staff – Fiona is the lovely lady 3rd from the right

During the day, Brian Fisher of the Kimberley Round Table called and told me that he and a couple of the Round Tablers of Kimberley were going to meet me at 5 o’clock at the Horseshoe Inn where they had arranged accommodation for me yesterday, to have a couple of beers and a “chat”. I thought I had better start early on my blog because once again I had “heard” that story about a “chat” but alas Geoff van Rensburg called and asked to meet with me and so my early start on the blog went out the window.

I met the Tablers at the arranged time and we had a “chat”. Unfortunately the one Tabler Jannie Schoeman had suffered a tragic personal tragedy and could not make the meeting, but Brian and Rian van Rooyen made up for it. As with all the Tablers I have had the pleasure of meeting so far, Brian and Rian proved to be really great guys and we had a great “chat”. Brian had to leave early(ish), and Rian and I continued for ‘a while’.

<i><b>Round Tablers</b> Brian on <u>my</u> left and Rian on <u>my</u> right handing me the banner for RT 5 Kimberley</i>

Round Tablers Brian on my left and Rian on my right handing me the banner for RT 5 Kimberley

I got back to my room just before nine pm and thought I would get down to some serious business on my blog. I had only completed two paragraphs when my cell phone rang; it was Jason Horseman, that hooligan friend of mine who used to work for Beares in Kimberley. He ‘instructed’ me to join him at that notoriously old and famous hotel in Kimberley called “The Star of the West” which was built way back in the early 1970’s. The wood from which the bar counter is made as well as the wood used to build the base of the bar counter as well the wall units behind the bar, was brought up from Simon’s Town on ox-wagons and was the timber used to build the ship called The Star of the West which sunk off the coast of Simon’s Town in the Cape in 1970. Jason is a very accomplished musician and has written a number of really good songs and now dedicates all his time to producing a CD entitled Empty Spaces which he produced together with his band called ‘GAGE’. To get more info on the CD and its availability visit the band’s website www.gage.co.za you won’t be sorry.

i>The Star of the West</i>

The Star of the West

<i>The inside of the hotel which was evidently frequented by Cecil John Rhodes who used to visit the “ladies of the night” upstairs and then sit on the balcony overlooking the ‘Big Hole’ from which his notorious wealth poured out of in the form of diamonds</i>

The inside of the hotel which was evidently frequented by Cecil John Rhodes who used to visit the “ladies of the night” upstairs and then sit on the balcony over looking the ‘Big Hole’ from which his notorious wealth poured out of in the form of diamonds


<i>Jason presenting me with a copy of GAGE’s CD entitled <b>Empty Spaces</b> and me holding the only printed copy of my book <b>‘Buddy and Me'</b></i>

Jason presenting me with a copy of GAGE’s CD entitled Empty Spaces and me holding the only printed copy of my book ‘Buddy and Me'

And so ended what had been a very busy day for ‘Buddy and Me’ in Kimberley. So now it’s very late and I am bushed and so will be retiring to bed to enjoy a good night’s sleep before ‘Buddy and Me’ take to the road once again tomorrow morning and head for Hartswater, which will be our last Beares store visit for this leg of the project. So cheers for now, keep well and as usual please keep all children safe and a special message to all the woman of South Africa during these 16 days of activism against the abuse of woman and children, “If you want the abuse of woman and children to stop – YOU MUST DO THE RIGHT THING AND REPORT THE ABUSE OF YOURSELVES AND YOUR KIDS TO THE AUTHORITIES AND ALLOW THE LAW TO FOLLOW ITS COURSE, IT’S THE ONLY WAY TO STOP IT!

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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