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Jan '10

Day 130-132: Friday to Sunday, 15-17 January 2010

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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My full new itinerary including Namibia and Botswana to the end of the tour (19 May 2010).

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)

Friday morning I followed Jaco into Klerksdorp to his office, he owns the Konika Minolta outlet in the city, and from the looks of things and based on the growth of the company over the past four years he is obviously doing things right.

After thanking him and Lisindra for their truly amazing friendship and hospitality I headed out of Klerksdorp in the direction of Potchefstroom, 53 kilometres away where I arrived at 10am. Before leaving Klerksdorp, I had received a message from Blanche of the Lubners store in Sasolburg who told me that she had secured a meeting for me with Mrs. Petroline van der Merwe who is the Senior Public Prosecutor for the Eastern Free State Region at 1pm. I certainly could not pass up an opportunity to talk to a lady of her calibre and so in order to reach Sasolburg in time I unfortunately had to cut my visit to the Potchefstroom Beares store short. But I did get an opportunity to chat to the friendly staff as well as to the local press.

<i><b>Beares</b> staff Potchefstroom</i>

Beares staff Potchefstroom

I left Potchefstroom at 10 to 12 and covered the 78 kilometres to Sasolburg in record time (well for Buddy that is) arriving in Sasolburg a little after 12:30pm. My meeting with Ms. van der Merwe proved well worthwhile and she provided me with some really interesting information and also confirmed some of the info I have received to date. She also corrected some wrong information which I have been provided with during my project.

During my travels around South Africa and during my discussions with both the police and court officials, I have asked the question “Why is our conviction rate so pathetically low”, and the police have always responded with the excuse that the prosecutors prosecuting the cases of child rape are not properly qualified and are no match for the defence council employed by the State to defend the accused. The court officials I have asked the same question to almost always respond with “If you see the state of the dockets and the poor investigation of the cases produced at court by the police you will understand why the conviction rate of child rape is so low”.

When I asked Ms. Van der Merwe the same question and told her what the response from the police and the courts had been, her response was, “ Yes, in most cases the investigation by the police is very poor and yes the justice department is suffering with a very high turnover of staff, this is mainly due to the extreme pressure prosecutors are under, and the high turnover of staff is having a negative affect on the conviction rate, but the standards and qualifications of prosecutors is not low as suggested by the police, but the most important factor is that the police and court officials should stop throwing stones and shifting the blame and work together to establish a system and establish what needs to be done to correct the situation”. Man this lady is top quality and this country desperately needs more like her.

I have been involved in many discussions and have been asked the question “What is the official age of consent according to law in South Africa” and on asking this question of numerous “experts” I have been given various answers ranging from 12 years of age to 16 years of age for girls and 19 years of age for boys as well as 18 years of age for both boys and girls. When posing this question to Ms. Van der Merwe she immediately pulled out one of her many legal folders and after spending sometime paging through it and having obtained some information she still phoned her boss to ensure that her answer was the correct one, as I said “a top class lady of note”. She then confirmed that the legal age of consent for sex is: 16 years of age for both boys and girls and the age of consent for an abortion is 12 years of age. This I find quite incredible.

Once again this is a case of our government sending out mixed messages. In one law they say that a person under the age of 16 years of age may not consent to sexual activities and so any person having sexual relations with a boy or girl under the age of 16 years of age is guilty of statutory rape. Then in another law they say that should a young girl under the age of 16 participate in sexual relations and falls pregnant she can, without the consent of her parents, under go an abortion.

In many discussions, parents have told me that they have discovered; after the act, that their young daughters in the 12 to 15 age groups have under gone abortions without their knowledge after having been made pregnant by older men who have not been charged for statutory rape because of the fact that the pregnancy was kept a secret from them. I firmly believe that the South African government, by promulgating this act of law and allowing young girls to under go abortions without their parents consent, is adding and abetting statutory rape by sending the message to these young girls that “You are not allowed by law to consent to having sex, but if you do and if you fall pregnant you can keep it a secret from your parents and under go an abortion legally”, absolute madness.

The exact same goes for our HIV/Aids campaigns. We are frequently seeing campaigns on our television sets in which the message to our youth; and by youth I mean scholars not as in the definition of the word so freely used by individuals such as Julius Malema who is in his thirties and still claims to be a ‘youth’, but youth in school uniform, that it’s “okay to have sex, as long as you use a condom”. When is our government going to realise that they have to give serious consideration to the repercussions of the changes they make to legislation as well as when they open their mouths and make statements which are going to have detrimental consequences to our society and in particular to our youth, as in ‘proper youth’.

Back at the Sasolburg Lubners store, I was met by a group of people that included a senior police officer, social workers and to cap it all a gentleman by the name of Francisco Panaino (Frankie) who has written and published a book entitled ‘Frankie – a book of hope’. The book is the autobiography of the author who, as a young child, experienced sexual molestation and horrific violence. Frankie very kindly presented me with a copy of his book and even autographed it for ‘Buddy and Me’ and I for one can’t wait to get started reading it. If you wish to obtain a copy of the book you can order it as an e-book from the website: www.booke-frankie.com and you can contact Frankie on Frankie.panaino@telkomsa.net and from what I have heard and seen from paging through the book it’s definitely worth getting yourself a copy. To Frankie, keep up the great work you are doing with the rehabilitation programme you are involved with, with the correctional services, you are truly an amazing man in my eyes.

<i>Francisco Panaino (Frankie) with the book he autographed and presented me with</i>

Francisco Panaino (Frankie) with the book he autographed and presented me with

<i>Staff and guest of <b>Lubners</b> Sasolburg</i>

Staff and guest of Lubners Sasolburg

While I was talking in the Lubners store it had begun to rain, and I don’t mean a drizzle, it poured, but fortunately by the time I finished talking and had thanked Adri Wide, the store manager and in particular Blanche for the fantastic and informative day they had arranged for me in Lubners Sasolburg the rain had eased to a slight drizzle.

After a brief stop at the local Pick n’ Pay where I bought some spare ribs (which I will tell you about later) as well as some sosatis and other goodies for my nights meal, oh yes and of course a six pack of Millers and ice, I headed for a camping resort called ‘Wes Vaal’ which is situated about one kilometres below the Barrage wall on the Vaal River. When I arrived at ‘Wes Vaal’ it was raining pretty heavily and I realised that setting up tent/camp in that weather was not going to be very pleasant. Obviously because of the heavy weather nobody was in sight or manning the small office at the entrance.

After hooting, calling out and walking around; I was already so wet walking in the rain was not going to make me any wetter, I attracted the attention of a worker who said he would find someone for me. He returned about 15 minutes later and said “Baas Robbie will be with you in a few minutes” and true to word ‘Robbie’ arrived from the fields about ten minutes later. We both agreed that setting up camp in the rain would not be a good idea and that I should make use of one of the ‘cabins’. Unfortunately he was not in-charge of the resort but was confident that the owners/manager Sarie, would consent to sponsoring me a night’s accommodation under the circumstances. The cost of a nights stay in a ‘cabin’ (and I use that word very loosely) was given to me as R480-00, way out of my budget for accommodation.

I was given the key and arrived outside the ‘cabin’. One look at the cabin, not to mention what the inside looked like and coupled with the fact that no linen or bedding of any sort was provided, convinced me that at R480-00 per night, it was a rip-off and that if I had to pay that for a nights stay in what resembled a squatter camps shack, there is no way on this earth that I would pay it. The rain eventually eased up, for a while anyway, and I managed to get a fire going to braai my spare ribs and sosasti’s.

On opening the vacuum sealed spare rib packet I was almost knocked out and started gagging from the sickening smell which came from the packet. I hurled the ribs out into the river (obviously after removing them from the plastic packet which I deposited into a garbage drum a long way away from my ‘cabin/shack’) and hoped that I was not going kill a barbell or any other creature with food poisoning by throwing them into the river. This resulted in my supper being reduced to sosaties and a concoction of potatoes, onions and tomatoes washed down with a couple of Millers.

The ‘shacks’ wooden panelled sides had big gaps between the panels and when I turned over during the night I discovered the rain had entered through the gaps and my pillows were sopping wet. I woke in the morning to yet more rain and after showering and going up to the ‘office’ to establish what the decision was regarding my nights stay I was told that “If I had phoned and made a pre-arranged booking, a special rate could have been arranged for me”, and so I paid for my nights accommodation. I was intending to camp at ‘Wes Vaal’ for the next four nights, being Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights but when I was told that a nights camp fee in this over grown squatter camp is a staggering R250-00 per night I decided to count my blessings for having been ripped off for only one night and returned home to Germiston where, because of the rain, I could get my washing done and do some repairs needed on Buddy.

My night’s accommodation in my ‘squatter camp shack at Wes Vaal Resort’, the camp chair outside and ‘bedding’ is mine. No bedding, tables or chairs of any kind are provided – just a warning in case you consider going there

So having returned home for Saturday and Sunday and being able to get all my chores done, tomorrow ‘Buddy and Me’ return to the ‘Vaal Triangle’ area, this being the Vanderbijl, Vereeniging and Meyerton area where hopefully I will be able to secure better camping accommodation and be able to enjoy my visit to the Beares and Lubners store in that area.

So until tomorrow, keep your feet on the ground but reach real high for the sky and above all keep all children safe.

Caring regards from
Buddy and Me (Steve Heath)

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