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My full new itinerary including Namibia and Botswana to the end of the tour (19 May 2010).
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So once again when it came time for ‘Buddy and Me’ to head out on the road again, destination Fochville and then Western Area, 5 minutes before I was about to leave the rain came down, so what’s new? My arrival at the Beares store in Fochville was announced by a couple of guys blowing their lungs out on vuvuzela’s which I’m sure could be heard for kilometres around the town as well as a large group of kids shouting slogans of “Children are the future” Protect the children” and “Stop raping children”.
The kids and staff of Beares Fochville welcoming ‘Buddy and Me’, notice the red and yellow vuvazela’s
All I know is that the vuvuzela’s being blown in the stadiums during the 2010 World Cup games could cause some big problems. While having a photo taken by the local press with all the kids and Beares staff clinging to Buddy, a guy was standing on the back of the buggy blowing one of these things and the opening where the almighty noise came out of was about a metre from my ear, which is less than the distance from somebody’s ear when seated in a stadium in front of someone blowing one of these things. Oh man, when considering the tempers that fly with soccer hooligans seen at previous world cup tournaments this one should be a humdinger.
One of the people I had a really interesting chat with was a reporter from the Carletonville Herald Cerise Du Ploy who after hearing my proposal for a solution to stopping the rape of children said “finally someone has convinced me that the rape and sexual abuse of children can be stopped and that if our South African Government is serious about stopping it they had better take serious note of what you are proposing”.
We also discussed the fact that the local police (SAPS) refused to meet with me to discuss the child rape situation in the area, and she confirmed that child rape is happening at a horrific rate in the area and that the police also refuse to speak to her as a member of the local press about the child rape as well as general crime occurring in the area. My comment was that where I have been refused the opportunity to talk to the police in some areas, fortunately it has only occurred on three occasions, it has later been confirmed by independent NGO organisations, that child rape in these areas is out of control and that the communities in these areas have lost all faith in the police forces ability do anything about it not to mention stop it.
We also discussed the fact that; and this has cropped up in other mining areas as well, that the rape of young children and babies in the mining areas is particularly bad due to the fact that the men work shifts and so are alone at home with babies and children during the day. In these areas, mothers in particular do not or rather refuse to; report the rape of the babies and children due to the fact that the financial implication is even worse than for those mothers living in the other rural areas. The reason for this is that the men are provided with free or very low cost housing and should the rape of the child be reported and the father is arrested and society is lucky enough to see him being convicted and locked away, the financial implications on the mother and rest of the family are even worse due to the fact the family are forced to vacate the house.
So taking this into account, my message to our esteemed government and legislators, is that no matter what our fantastic legislation says in the form of the section of our ‘Sexual Offences Act-32/2007’ which states that “Any person who is made aware of the fact that a child has been raped or sexually abused, is forced by the section to report the rape to the authorities and that any person who fails to do is guilty of an offence and can be detained and imprisoned” the mothers of South Africa will never report the rape of the children unless you ensure that the departments of Social Development and Social Welfare Services are funded properly in order that they can provided the mothers who report the rapes of their children are properly looked after and that they continue to live in the same standard as they were accustomed to prior to their husbands being arrested for the rape of their children.
At this stage I would like to raise the point that I have enquired with many police and court officials, and in fact ask the question during every interview, “Are you aware of anyone ever being charged and imprisoned under the section of the ‘Sexual Offences Act 32/2007’ relating to the failure to report a child rape case they have been made aware of”, and to date the response has been “No”. So once again we have a situation in which the government ‘appears’ to be attempting to bring a stop to certain illegal practises, such as the transgression of the section of Act 32/2007’ for failing to report a child rape case, and other illegal transgression such as bribery and corruption, but unfortunately nobody gets charged under these sections of the law and if they do the punishment is so puny it’s a waist of time pursuing action against them.
A classic example of this are the cases that were reported in the press during 2009 in the Eastern Cape region in which 11 members of the local government were convicted of the theft / fraud of something like 25 million Rand and on being convicted were each sentenced to 9 years imprisonment of which the entire sentence was suspended for 5 years. The news report went on to confirm that there are an additional 15 individuals whose cases were still pending. Oh yes, I forgot to mention that not one cent of the money was recovered!
From Fochville ‘Buddy and Me’ once again ventured out into the rain and headed for the Lubners store in Westonaria. The Manager of the store, Lynette Else who must have the cutest giggle/laugh I have heard in a very long time arranged for me to chat to a Captain from the local ‘FCS?’ unit who I was told is a supper person and was very eager to talk to me, but unfortunately when I arrived at the store she was forced to cancel her appointment with me due to a pressing child rape case, which obviously I had absolutely no problem with, but she did send another very efficient young lady by the name of Constable Molapo in her place. Constable Molapo confirmed that they experience between 12 and 14 child rape cases (As in children under the age of 12 years of age) per month, but that the cases of rape involving young girls of between 13 and 16 is very much higher. She also confirmed that the conviction rate in the local regional court is high and that they often witness sentences of life and 20 to 25 years being handed down by the court.
Lynette Else (The Westonaria Lubners Manager) had also made an appointment for me with the Senor Public Prosecutor of the Regional Court in Westonaria, Ms. Riaana Van Rensburg and this lady, as in the case of Ms. Van der Merwe in Sasolburg Regional Court, really impressed me. She in fact confirmed exactly what Ms. Van der Merwe had said about the pressure being applied on prosecutors which because of the high rate of turnover of staff impacts on the conviction rate, and also confirmed that the community of the local township of Bekkersdal is a very active community and invariably arrest child rapists themselves and hand them over to the police.
However she did comment on the fact that unfortunately in many cases, especially in those cases which involve the raping of a child by a family member, (but also where other individuals commit the offences and either intimidate the witness or her family or offer financial retribution) the family all sit down and discuss the situation and after coming up with “A solution” the directly affected family depart from the area and when it comes time for the trial the witness/victim and her family have disappeared without a trace resulting in the case being thrown out of court.
We discussed this problem at length and she confirmed that she had on many occasions wanted to pursue a case of ‘Defeating and/or obstructing the ends of justice’ against the parents, because they could not be charged under the section of the ‘Sexual Offences Act 32-2007’ which I mentioned earlier in this blog, which relates to the section regarding the failure to report a rape of a child, because they had reported it but had just not allowed the police and justice department to do their job.
From Westonaria I returned to Carletonville where I used the time in the late afternoon to start my blog because tonight I will be hosted accommodation by Round Tabler Barné Yzelle and his wife Adéle and their daughter Amoré and we will be joined by a large group of Tablers for a braai and ‘chat’. So having experienced the Round Tablers interpretation of a “chat” I hope to get most of today’s blog finished and then be able to finish it off after the braai and “chat” or early morning and get it sent to Gail in Germiston so she can place it on my blog.
(XXX Break for Round Table evening XXX)
So now having finished the braai and “chat” I firstly have to apologise to Gail, because as I said, I send my blog to her in Germiston in e-mail form and then she posts it to the blog, and when I send a lot of photos she has a mild heart attack and when I send as many as I will be sending with this blog I think she will probably have a serious heart attack. So Gail you have my sincerest apologise for the number of photos in this blog but because of the fantastic evening I had with the Round Tablers of RT50 Carletonville and their wives I believe the evening must be shared with everyone and this can only be fully appreciated in the form of photos, so here goes.
In Carletonville the Tablers came up with something really amazing. The signage on Buddy’s sides and the sides of the trailer includes the wording “African Odyssey” and the ‘C’ in the word African on the one side of the trailer had been lost along the way. The Tablers of Carletonville decided that they would have a replacement one printed for me, but the ‘c’ was replaced with a capital ‘C’ in red on a white background which represents the ‘C’ of Carletonville and so the ‘C’ in the word African on Buddy’s drivers side was also replaced with the same red ‘C’.
The other new signage the Tablers of Carletonville arranged to have put onto Buddy is a sticker they had specially printed and placed in a spot on Buddy’s bonnet which was being kept open and available for a really special sticker which was going to be placed there when I arrive back in Durban on the 5th February before starting my south bound journey for the Cape leg of my crusade, and that is a ‘Sharks’ sticker. But because the Tablers of Carletonville produced such an amazing sticker I agreed to forfeit the spot and place theirs in the spot instead.
The evening was a truly fantastic one, and I was given an opportunity to address the Tablers and present them with a talk on the subject of child rape as well as present them with what I believe is a solution to stopping the rape and sexual abuse of the children and babies of South Africa. The only problem is that when I start talking on the subject I never stop and so my talk went on for more than an hour. But they all appeared to be genuinely interested and I was given a number of opinions and suggestions to add to my proposal on a solution to stopping child rape which will soon be released to the media as well as presented to parliament.
And so ended Thursday 21st January 2010 day number 136 in the life of ‘Buddy and Me – Searching for a Solution to Stopping the Rape and Sexual Abuse of Children in South Africa’.
So all that’s left for me to do is to wish you a good night from both Buddy and me and until tomorrow when ‘Buddy and Me’ visit the City of Carletonville, keep your feet on the ground but reach really high for the sky and above all, keep all children safe.
Caring regards from
Buddy and Me (Steve Heath)
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