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Jan '10

Day 133: Monday, 18 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)

So Monday morning (this morning) dawned very bleak and overcast and by the time I headed out for Vanderbijlpark which is 78 kilometres away, it had started to rain, once again and as usual it wasn’t just raining it was pouring. Halfway to Vanderbijlpark Buddy decided that he had had enough water in his mechanics and spluttered and spurted and cut out. I have been told on a few occasions that “someone up there is looking after ‘Buddy and Me’ and this morning was no exception. Buddy and I were on an up hill and when he cut out we were about 100 metres from the only over head bridge on the R59 freeway. I coasted to a stop under the bridge and phoned Bev Wishart, Beares Marketing Assistant at Head office in Pinetown told her what had happened and asked her to contact the Beares store in Vanderbijlpark and let them know that I could possibly be a little late.

I then proceeded to do some ‘CPR’ on Buddy which involved cleaning and drying out the distributor which was pretty damp. My first attempt at starting him was unsuccessful but I persevered and my second attempt revived him and when I applied the ‘electrical paddle’ (as in the key) he sprang to life and roared with renewed vigour and we were once again back on the road again. When we were about 10 kilometres from Vanderbijlpark the rain eased and the sky ahead had gaps through which actual sun shone through, absolutely bloody amazing!

I arrived at the Beares store a mere 20 minutes late and amazingly there was no water falling from the sky. I had a really interesting chat with a lady by the name of Anet (and just in case you’re wondering, that is the correct spelling of her name, it’s not Annette) Hoof, who is with a safe house in the Vanderbijl / Vereeniging area called Sedibeng Children’s Haven. They provide shelter to, mostly children who have been sexually abused and sent to them by the courts for safe keeping pending the court case and receive a staggering R16-50 (2.23 US Dollars) per child per day which must cover the cost of their food, clothing, accommodation, education and supervision. It is reputed that it is currently costing the State R98-00 per prisoner per day for food alone. Interesting!

<i><b>Beares</b> staff Vanderbijlpark</i>

Beares staff Vanderbijlpark

After a chat with the Beares staff I bid them farewell and drove the whole 1 kilometre to the Lubners store where I was met by a group of really interesting individuals. The group included a man by the name of Ben Lombard who is a Pastor with the El Saddie Church (and once again, although, as he explained, it is pronounced El Shadia, it is spelt El Saddie) he explained that he is a volunteer with the local police services in a police initiative called ‘Victim Empowerment Centre SAPS – Vanderbijlpark’. According to Ben the ‘Victim Empowerment Centres’ is a national programme and “should be employed at all police stations”. I unfortunately had to admit that it, as in the case of the ‘Thuthuzela Care Centres’ is the best kept secret in South Africa, because after all my travels around South Africa and having asked every policeman and policewoman I have met, about what support centres are available in their towns and cities for child rape victims and victims of domestic violence, I have never been told of, or heard of, such an initiative as the ‘SAPS Empowerment Centres’. Ben explained that probably only 2% of their time is spent on child rape victims (as in children under the age of 12 years of age) and that the far majority of their time is spent with young girls in their mid teens, as in 13 to 15 years of age.

The other very interesting lady in the group was a lady by the name of Captain Mokoena who introduced herself as being “Involved in a ‘Child Protection Unit” associated with the ‘FCS’ unit”. This was pure magic and music to my ears. I have always professed that the disbanded ‘FCS’ unit, which was originally formed after the ‘CPU’ unit (Child protection unit) was disbanded, which was intended to include a broader scope of domestic violence, should be re-instated but include a specialist unit of CPU members. She explained that in this area, the Vanderbijlpark area, the system was working well, but when I asked her how many cases of ‘child rape’ are reported to their station on a monthly basis, she confirmed that it was seldom more than two or three cases, which indicates that, as is occurring in all the other areas around South Africa, mothers are not reporting the rape of their babies and children.

One of the most devastating bits of information that Captain Mokoena shared with us, is the fact that it takes on average between 10 months and anything to two years to get a result from our forensics lab on DNA evidence. She told us that in one case DNA was sent to the Pretoria Labs in 2005 on a child rape case and up until today 18th January 2010 (almost 4 years later) still no results have been received. The case has subsequently been struck from the role. And then we wonder why we have this ridiculously low 4-6% conviction rate.

My other two guests were two ladies, Alta and Pulane who are with an NGO called ‘Child Welfare’ and when I first saw the words “Child Welfare” embroided on their coats I thought they were with the government department of welfare services, but they quickly corrected me and pointed out that they are with a private NGO.

Another very interesting guest was a lady by the name of Annelie Coertzen who is with ‘Life Line’. In our discussion she explained that, according to legislation, victims can claim restitution from rapists. I mentioned that this point had been raised in many discussions I had had around the country, and the question had been asked asked, “Restitution from whom?” because a victim can only claim restitution from a rapist if he is convicted which therefore means that he will be sent to prison (Sorry we can’t use that word anymore, correctional services unit), and if he is sent “there” for what he deserves, 15 years+, how is he going to pay restitution to the victim, which means that the restitution is paid by the ‘State’ and where does the ‘State’ get it’s money from? The ‘tax payer’ you and you and you, so who pays the restitution??

<i><b>Lubners</b> staff Vanderbijlpark and guests, what a magic bunch of people, our discussion went on for two hours - sorry guys but I thoroughly enjoyed the talk and I hope you did</i>

Lubners staff Vanderbijlpark and guests, what a magic bunch of people, our discussion went on for two hours - sorry guys but I thoroughly enjoyed the talk and I hope you did

Because of the rain, if that’s the word I should use for it, I decided that I would drive the 60 kilometres home to Germiston and spend the night, once again, in a comfortable bed, not to mention have May cook me a delicious meal and so I took the R59 freeway home. One thing I miss while on the road and that is not watching TV. Tonight on the news I heard a report from our esteemed minister of education that an investigation is being launched into the ridiculously low matric pass rate.

The low pass rate has been attributed to: The low attendance rate of scholars (now referred to as learners) as well as the lack of discipline of ‘learners’. On this topic I have been involved in many discussions with, parents, teachers, policemen and woman who have given me their point of view on this subject, and they believe that: The government, by promulgating legislation which forbids parents, teachers and the police from disciplining children, have assumed the role as disciplinarians and have failed the nation in this regard.

Teachers and parents have pointed out that there is absolutely no way that they can discipline a child without being guilty of child abuse in terms of the ‘Child Abuse Act’. If one looks at the act and the bill of rights for children as reflected in the bills of right of both our South African government as well as the United Nations Bill of rights for children, a parent or teacher cannot, by law, administer corporal punishment, nor can he or she shout at a child, nor can he or she tell a child to go to her or his room and close the door, nor can he or she look at a child in such a manor that can be interpreted as instilling fear into the child without being guilty of child abuse. So the question is, please Mr. / Mrs. government official who promulgated the law which forbids a parent or teacher from disciplining a child, tell us how we are supposed to discipline a child who by his or her actions requires disciplining from time to time, discipline our children without being sent to prison for doing what a parent needs to do from time to time.

The part of the news this evening on this subject which really got my goat, was an interview with a scholar who claims that, “The teachers don’t show us enough respect”! I have friends who are teachers who tell me that ‘learners’ arrive at school when they feel like it and there is absolutely nothing they, as teachers, can do about it. They (the teachers) are also spoken to like they are dirt, sworn at and told that if they (the teachers) touch them (the learners) they will have them put in jail. So once again Mr. / Mrs. Government official and legislators of our country, please explain to our parents and teachers of South Africa, how are we are supposed to discipline our children?

Okay so while I’m on a role here, there is something I desperately need to get off my chest. I was a full supporter of US President O’Bama during his campaign for presidency and I believe that he is undoubtedly the best speaker I have ever heard in my life. But come on, please, I ask you with tears running down my legs, what has he done to deserve a ‘Nobel Peace Prize’? He has been in office for less than a year, has increased the US military force in both Afghanistan and Iraq so why does he deserve a ‘Nobel Peace Prize’. I believe that by him being awarded this prestigious award it has made a mockery of the award. I dearly look forward to your comments by way of my web comments blog or private e-mail on steve@buddyandme.co.za.

So I think that’s enough chatter for today, so I’m gong to retire to bed and build up strength to tackle another day in the life of ‘Buddy and Me’ – Searching for a solution to child rape in South Africa – So keep well, keep your feet on the ground etc etc etc, but most importantly, keep all children safe.

Caring regards from
Buddy and Me (Steve Heath)

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