Child Rape in South Africa

A 4-year old girl was reported missing, in Brakpan near Johannesburg, last month.

The entire community was out looking for her, and due to admirable police work, she was eventually found in her own home, under the bed – dead.

The little girl had been raped and murdered, by her own 20-something year old uncle. This is not an allegation – the rapist took the police to where he had hidden the body. That’s an admission of guilt, I think.

The community of Brakpan was devastated. Wreaths and soft toys were laid outside the house where she lived, candles were lit and prayers were prayed, (If you want to appear to be doing something useful, start praying)

The girl’s parents’ lives were threatened because they allegedly did not take proper care of her. (Because violence in response to violence is an appropriate reaction?)

At the funeral, which was in a christian church and attended by hundreds of angry, upset neighbours and friends, a reporter from the local TV station interviewed the little girl’s 6-year old sister.

The interviewer asked her how she felt, and the little girl replied she was “happy” because her baby sister “is in heaven.”

The parents reported that they are “not ready to forgive the rapist yet.”


Okay, I don’t know about you, but this whole thing makes me sick to the stomach.

WHY would you feel some obligation to FORGIVE the bastard who had raped your child, caused her terrible suffering and pain, and then murdered her? Even if he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, what he did is UNFORGIVEABLE!! He deserves to rot in jail for the rest of his life. He should be removed from society, locked away for good.

I think it’s despicable that the rape and murder of a child is glossed over, and it’s all okay because she is now “in heaven.” No, she’s not, she’s dead. A sweet young life has been snuffed out in the most horrible way. It’s not okay to take comfort in the belief that she is in a  better place. Face facts – she is dead, you will never see her again. All your hopes and dreams for your daughter have died with her.

BE ANGRY!!!! Do something to prevent more little children suffering the same fate!! Forgiveness and “heaven” are not the correct response to this tragedy!!!

The rapist’s trial has been postponed for the police to do further investigations. And in the meantime, more babies and children suffer the same fate every day. We don’t always have the same outcry about it, but it’s happening. Only 5% of rape cases result in a successful conviction, so this rapist could conceivably get away with his crime…

South Africa has one of the highest incidences of HIV/AIDS in the world (well over 5 million infections, over 300 000 deaths annually), and there is a supposed “cure” available: sex with a virgin. South Africa also has the highest incidence of child rape in the world.

Connect the dots…

How do we stop this madness?

  • Educate people. especially children, about the real causes and treatments for HIV/AIDS and other venereal diseases
  • Promote safe sex, provide free condoms
  • Reduce police inefficiency and corruption, so that more rape cases are successfully prosecuted
  • Much harsher punishment for anyone found guilty of rape, especially where it results in the death of a child. This is one instance where I think the death penalty would be appropriate – and I don’t say that lightly…
  • Political leadership – preferably get rid of our president who has been on trial for rape himself, and got away with it
  • Better Child Welfare services
  • Citizens should report suspected cases of child abuse – about 90% of child abuse goes unreported in South Africa.

That last point is critical in my opinion. If you know, or suspect, that a child is being abused, report it to the authorities. Get Child Welfare involved. They will get the police involved if it’s warranted.

But don’t just sit back and pretend it’s not happening, and when that child is raped and murdered, don’t comfort yourself with the myth that at least she is now “in heaven,” and you should “forgive” the rapist.

That kind of thinking has only contributed to the terrible situation we find ourselves in now…

Norah, the world class scam artist!

I have been very thrilled to see that my blogs about Norah the World Class Psychic have caused many people to be sceptical, and to reject her offers to psychically solve all their problems.

Just for fun, I replied again to her advert, using the same email address as before, but a different name. Guess what? I received exactly the same pile of horse- shit as before!

As if that’s not funny enough, she has started sending the very same “psychic predictioms” to someone called Nolan, at my email address!

BEWARE FOLKS!! Norah is a fraud, it’s plain and obvious! Do not send her money! You can continue to receive her emails if you want to see just how far she goes trying to separate you from your hard-earned bucks, but PLEASE don’t be tempted to pay her anything, or provide her with your bank account details!

If you are trying to get a refund from her, I suggest approaching your bank directly. I think your chances of getting a refund from the Frenchman who trades as Norah are remote, to say the least! I would love to hear from anyone who was successful…

A Plea to Wealthy Christians


I have just finished reading a book of “Atheist Responses to Religious Arguments” by Frank Butcher. It’s pretty much a confirmation of what I know already, but one of the last points the author made really got me thinking.

Why don’t wealthy christians give away their wealth, as the bible requires them to do if they want to go to heaven?

In the parable of the rich young man, Jesus is said to have declared: “Go, sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then, come, follow me.” Mark 10:21

and “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven” Mark 10:25

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing we shall be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” 1 Timothy 6: 6-10

Clearly the new testament, which is the bit of the bible christians really approve of, is in favour of poverty. The above are just three of many admonitions to the godly to be happy with the basics and not crave wealth.

“blessed are the poor”

And yet, the world is full of super-rich christians! Some of them are “spiritual leaders” who preach the gospel of prosperity – they claim that the bible teaches that financial blessings are the will of god, that faith, positive speech and donations will always increase one’s material wealth (especially donations!)

A good example is that of Oral Roberts, whose Methodist healing ministries reached millions worldwide. He performed hundreds of crusades, and claimed that he could raise the dead. His organisation raked in $120 million a year and employed 2 300 people, at its peak.

Roberts was a pioneer of TV evangelism. In January 1987 he announced that unless he raised $8 million by March, his god would kill him.


His passionate pleas and crocodile tears earned him $9.1 million…..

He’s dead now – maybe he wasn’t making enough money to satisfy his god towards the end there🙂

Even when times were tough, Roberts continued to wear silk suits, diamond rings and gold bracelets – which were airbrushed out of publicity shots by his staff. (Reed Christopher (15/12/2009) “Oral Roberts Obituary”, The Guardian, London.)

Spreading the gospel has been a VERY profitable business for other evangelists:

  • Benny Hinn’s healing crusades earned him in excess of $200 million a year, with a personal salary of over $500 000. He flies around in a private jet, and has a generally lavish lifestyle
  • Joyce Meyer reportedly earned $900 000 a year back in 2003, thanks to her ministry
  • Kenneth Copeland refuses to tell anyone how much money he makes out of the god-business, but it’s obviously quite a bit because he owns a $20 million private jet, and lives in a mansion the size of a hotel.
  • Creflo Dollar (name says it all) made $69 million in 2006, but refuses to divulge his financial records because he is “concerned for the privacy” of his donors.
  • The list goes on and on…

These preachers lead tax-exempt organisations in the USA, and take full advantage of their “non-profit” status. Obviously, their followers are either unaware of how much money their “spiritual” leaders are making out of them, or they are simply turning a blind eye to the facts.

Copeland’s website, for instance, in his “Financial Accountability” section, merely lists the PERCENTAGES of income spent on the various parts of his ministry – NO actual figures are mentioned anywhere that I could see.

Oral Roberts Ministries “financial report” shows EXPENDITURE, but not INCOME! Sorry guys, that’s not a financial report – that’s you trying to hide the facts.

Benny Hinn’s website actually lists financially relevant questions, such as “How does your ministry spend its money” and then links to a page that tells you what they spend it ON, but not how much they receive, or the amounts they actually spend.

So much for transparency and telling the TRUTH!

So, what about the ordinary, wealthy christian? Do they feel any compulsion to give away their wealth? Especially now, supposedly just before the “rapture”

to be sure of their spot amongst the eternally worshipful and subservient in heaven?

Many christians give regularly to charities, which is very commendable. It doesn’t make them any different from many muslims, jews, buddhists and atheists who all feel compassion for our fellow man, and don’t have any problem supporting worthy causes.

Fortunately, as a Humanist (and atheist), I make my own choices. I am not bound by someone else’s ideas of what’s right or wrong. I’m especially not bound by the “supernatural” ideas of ancient nomadic desert dwellers, and their descendents. I choose to support secular charities such as the National Sea Rescue Institute of South Africa. Unlike the TV evangelists, the NSRI really does save lives, every day!

Bill Gates. a well-known atheist, has set up the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and personally donates a large proportion of his wealth to the Foundation, which does very good work in the fields of health, education and agriculture all over the world. Their audited Financial statements are on the web, completely transparent, for anybody to examine – a nice contrast to the charlatans listed above!

Interesting to note: the Gates’ Foundation’s motto is “All Lives Have Value.” This is an atheist/humanist viewpoint, as opposed to the christian or muslim viewpoint that if you’re homosexual, for instance, you have no right to marriage, children, and at the extremist end – life itself. (Or if you’re a muslim, it’s okay to kill innocents in the name of Jihad.)

Please don’t say “Oh, but that’s the EXTREME view, normal christians don’t think that!” Here’s something to think about:

  • the bible specifically forbids homosexuality, and if you believe the bible, then so should you – even though that view is abhorrent to any rational person – because it is the Word of God
  • extremists don’t just pop out of the air – they start out as normal human beings, are thoroughly indoctrinated as children, and grow more extremist the deeper they get immersed into religion
  • extremists are the ones who follow the bible to the letter – especially the old testament which condones slavery, rape, murder, and other heinous crimes against humanity.


In my opinion it’s entirely up to you, the individual, to decide how to spend your hard-earned money. I think it’s most important to take care of yourself and your family, save for your retirement, and enjoy your life. If you have money to donate to charities, by all means do so if you want to.

However, if you’re a christian, and truly want to follow Jesus, then I guess you would feel differently? So, Wealthy Christian, are you going to give it all away – the land, the houses, the cash and jewellery – or hang onto it until death do you part?

What Would Jesus Do🙂




I have moved my photography to a separate blog –

If you are also a keen amateur photographer, you might enjoy reading these:

  • Monte Casino and The Pivot at Night – my growing infatuation with night-time photography, and a few tips for those who might be new to it
  • Family Portraits – the newest addition to our family meets his Great Gran for the first time, resulting in some beautiful portraits
  • Florence, Italy – one of the most photogenic cities on Earth, in my opinion
  • Rome, Italy – the Colosseum, the Valley of the Vestal Virgins, and the Vatican


“Miracle” vs Medical Marvel

The South African media is brimming with excitement over the “miracle” of the 3-year-old girl, Pippie Kruger, who has received a massive graft of her own cloned skin, which appears to have been a success.

Doctors at the Garden City Clinic, in Johannesburg, have been treating this little girl ever since she was burnt over 80% of her body on New Years’ Eve – a liquid fire-lighter her father was using exploded, setting Pippie on fire, and leaving her with terrible burn wounds over most of her body.

Since the accident, Pippie has had 45 operations, kidney failure and five heart attacks. She survived – thanks to the wonderful care she received from Doctor Ridwan Mia and his team at the Clinic.

A few square centimetres of healthy skin from her groin (which was protected from the fire by her nappy) was sent to Genzyme, a biotechnical company in Boston. They cloned her skin, growing it in thin sheets. These were flown to South Africa last week and transplanted onto Pippie’s body in a gruelling operation. The little girl has been heavily sedated and immobilised, and tonight some of the bandages were peeled away. The cloned skin remained in place – much to the relief and joy of Pippie’s parents, the medical team, and all who have been following this story.

Dr Mia appeared on TV news tonight, glowing with happiness and relief, and excited to tell the country the fantastic news – and what did the interviewer say?

“It’s a miracle!”

Well no, it’s not.

It’s the result of medical science. Doctors, clinic, biotechnology company, researchers…. and Pippie’s healthy body (before the accident)… are responsible for the success of this ground breaking surgery. Doctor Mia and his team displayed great strength, skill and determination.

There is no need to assume a god or gods had any hand in it. If a god or the gods, assuming they exist, were in the slightest bit interested, wouldn’t he/they have prevented the fire-lighter from exploding? Wouldn’t he/they have taken steps to ensure the child was not burnt over 80% of her little body?

And, it’s no good saying Pippie’s pain, the suffering she has endured and will surely endure for years to come, is all part of some divine plan. What plan could possibly justify doing such a terrible thing to a totally innocent child and her parents?

All credit should go to the medical team, Doctor Mia, the Garden City Clinic, Pippie’s parents, and to Genzyme – it is an insult to imply that a supernatural “miracle” is responsible for saving this child’s life!

Photography: New Blog

I have decided to start a new blog, exclusively for my photography. I’m sure that not all the photo-enthusiasts who visit this site are interested in my rantings about psychic frauds, astrologers and other crackpots!

My previous photography posts will be moved to the new blog:

I hope that if you have enjoyed my photography, hints and tips and comments that go with it, you will follow me there🙂

Photography: Flowers in my Garden


I am fortunate enough to have a really pretty garden. Even though it is now almost mid-winter in Johannesburg, the Aloes, Strelizias, Daisies and even the Clivias are flowering!

It hasn’t been a particularly cold winter so far – none of those bitingly cold evenings, and no frost as yet. I’m sure the bad weather is ON ITS WAY!

I grabbed the opportunity to snap some photos this afternoon. First a gorgeous yellow Thistle:

Canon 60D, Lensbaby Double Glass Optic 50mm,  f/4, 1/400th sec, ISO 3200

My husband the Landscape Architect tells me this is called a Crocosmia – I believe him, because I don’t know any better…

Canon 60D, Lensbaby Double Glass Optic 50mm, f/4, 1/50th sec, ISO 200

This shot of a Strelizia is quite abstract – I love the contrasting colours:

Canon 60D, Lensbaby Double Optic 50mm, f/4, 1/125th sec, ISO 125

The Clivias are flowering way too early. (The Plastic Optic lens gives them a glowing, ethereal look which I find quite interesting.)

Canon 60D, Lensbaby Plastic Optic 50mm, f/4, 1/500th sec, ISO 100

This beautiful specimen is not growing in my garden. My dear Husband gave me two dozen red roses for our second wedding anniversary (he CAN be romantic when he tries…)

I took these two photos this morning as the sun came up:

Canon60D, 50mm prime lens, f/1.4, 1/60th sec, ISO 640

Canon 60D, 50mm prime lens, f/1.4, 1/60th sec, ISO 500

Some blooms from earlier in the year: first a magnificent Barberton Daisy:

Canon EOS 1000 at 263mm, f/5.6, 1/200th sec, ISO100

And an Agapanthus head, up close. The series of photos had an incredibly 3-dimensional “popping” effect. If you have these flowers in your garden try photographing them from above with a wide-angled lens. Get as close in as you can to achieve the same effect:

Fuji Finepix S9500 at 29mm, f/3.9, 1/150th sec, ISO 200

Photographing flowers can be very rewarding. Here are my tips, based on my experience:

  • Fill the frame with the flowers, edge to edge
  • Use a wide aperture so the background is blurred.
  • You can use either a wide-angled lens, or a macro lens. Both will give great results
  • Don’t photograph in bright sunlight – the best times are early morning, late afternoon, and on cloudy days – avoid strong shadows, unless it’s for effect
  • Bright sunshine on red, yellow or orange flowers totally blows out the detail. It really is best to shoot them in the shade if you’re after sharp details.
  • Use a fast enough shutter speed to freeze movement – flowers move unpredictably even in a slight breeze. If you have to hold the stem to keep the bloom still, make sure your hand is not in the shot!
  • Be aware of the composition. Diagonals will make the picture more interesting
  • Look out for strongly contrasting colours and make the best of them.


If you have any tips for shooting flowers, I would be delighted if you would share them with me🙂


Photography: Rand Air Show, Johannesburg

I had a great opportunity to try my hand at Air Show Photography about a week ago, at the Rand Airport just south of Johannesburg.

I did some research first, and found out that there are some basic rules to this type of photography:

  • The underside of an aeroplane is not the most interesting bit
  • You should stand at the end of the runway the Sun is at, so you don’t end up shooting into the glare
  • You should use a slow enough shutter speed to capture the movement of the propellers – frozen props look highly unnatural on an aeroplane in flight!
  • You should be careful to not underexpose the aeroplane, or overexpose the sky
  • Try to get the pilot in the picture – photograph the plane from the front or side as it’s banking
  • Pan with the motion of the planes and don’t be afraid to take multiple shots as they fly past (It looks and sounds so sexy and professional)

With those basics in mind, my Hubby and I trotted off to the show last Sunday morning. I took more than 600 shots, and had to discard about 80% of them because they were: too blurry, under- or overexposed, photos of the undersides, looking into the Sun – this stuff is HARD!

I’m proud to say ALL my propellers were obviously whirling🙂

Fortunately, there were some shots I think are pretty successful – and here are a few of my favourites:

Canon 60D  –  f/11  –  1/200sec  –  ISO 100

A flyby of an old DC3 and a whole crowd of colourful little planes – Harvard in front, Yak 52s in the middle. The next shot is a close up from the same flyby (Yak 52s):

Canon 60D  –  f/11  –  1/200 sec  –  ISO 100

Some spectacular Pitt Specials flying in formation….these guys are brave, or maybe just a little crazy?

Canon 60D  –  f/11  –  1/200 sec  –  ISO 100

A couple of Extra 300’s:

Canon 60D  –  f/11  –  1/200 sec  –  ISO 100

I love this one! These two Pitt Specials did a whole routine with one of them flying upside down. It must be very disconcerting flying for any length of time with the earth over your head… and the sky beneath your feet….

Canon 60D  –  f/11 – 1/200 sec  –  ISO 100

Those Extra 300’s again:

Canon 60D  –  f/11  –  1/200 sec  –  ISO 160

I know the next one is not a great photo ( a bit noisy) – but check out these Pitt Special moves!

Canon 60D  –  f/11  –  1/200sec  –  ISO 100

The middle plane (a Mustang) is called Mustang Sally:

Canon 60D  –  f/11  –  1/200sec  –  ISO 100

And, please note – a couple of Pilots! (First a Pitt Special, and below that, a Bell helicopter)

Canon 60D  –  f/11  –  1/200sec  –  ISO 100

Canon 60D  –  f/11  –  1/200sec  –  ISO 100

This last photo, I’m ashamed to admit, was taken by my clever husband – and I think it’s BRILLIANT! Possibly the best of the lot……

*Grrrr*…. I’m the one who stood there for hours, with all the other photographers and their long lenses, patiently panning every passing ‘plane.

Glenn sits on the grass, looking after my camera while I go to the “ladies” – and he just casually takes this incredible shot of the DC3 rumbling past!

Canon 60D  –  f/11  –  1/200 sec  –  ISO 100

Well done, Darling – I’m officially jealous!

Never mind – I will persevere and maybe one day I’ll also be a Genius🙂


A note for photographers:

When I was adding the EXIF information for these photos, I noticed that they are ALL shot at f/11, 1/200 second and mostly at ISO 100-200. That’s because I only use the manual setting on my Canon 60D.

I had to do minimal extra work on Photoshop – mainly a little cropping (it’s hard to frame something perfectly when it’s careening past you at 350kph!) and I adjusted the levels on those that were a little over-exposed due to shooting close to the Sun.

I did not use a Polarising filter: I thought about it but realised I would have to be constantly aware of the Sun position with the Polariser on – I didn’t want to have to worry about that, so I only had on a UV filter.

African skies really ARE that blue!



I am indebted to the son of a friend, who kindly went through my photos and identified the planes for me!

Jenna the astrologer tries to sell me her “reiki grid”


It’s quite a lot of fun to subscribe to an astrologer’s newsletter, to see how far they will go to sell you their particular brand of bullshit.

A while ago I subscribed to Jenna, at Naturally, she was SO PLEASED I contacted her, because she could instantly feel a strong connection to me. (The connection is so strong she doesn’t realise I’ve given her a false name, address and date of birth!)

Of course, “Jenna” is not a real person, just a name given to a marketing ploy. My responses to her “amazing” predictions about my future and assumptions about my life (ie “You’re a DAMN FRAUD, Jenna!”) were countered by “It’s so nice to hear from you Dear, I would love to help you but I need you to pay me first.”

So, I gave up trying to get a reaction and just allowed “her” to continue sending me emails, to see how silly it would get….. I was not disappointed🙂

On May 10th I received another long, friendly, and very personal e-mail, telling me how wonderful I am, and how close she feels to me, how focussed she is on me, how she will always be at my service and be my very best friend.

AND, because she loves me so much (or at least, the person I’m pretending to be), she has made a very special Crystalline Reiki Grid for me. In her own words:

I want you to know that all of my attention and my vigilance is focused on you and I will always be at your service. I will not hesitate to tell you if a certain change or significant event is set to occur in your personal astrological configuration. Cherise, you can fully count upon my devotion. I will be here for you and I will be your friend and your astrologer.

I really wanted to produce a ‘Crystalline Reiki Grid’ for you, a grid which comes from a very ancient technique which I have now been using for a number of years with a great deal of success. I began this work very recently. This work aims at producing a very beneficial and positive magnetic influence and brings protection, chance and opportunity to the focus of of it’s energy through the interaction of a range of powerful precious stones. There is no magic or sorcery in all of this. We now know that magnetism exists as it has been proved by scientific techniques and it is certain that this energetic field can have extremely beneficial effects. The technique of the grid has existed for thousands of years and is extremely efficient. To give you a little more idea about what this means, the Grid is a way of arranging stones in a sacred geometric pattern. What is great about the Grid is that this pattern is then activated by a connection with a ‘line of light’ through the stones so that they radiate an energy field which then reaches out to the person the grid is destined for. I normally offer this work to those of my correspondents which I feel closest to and to those I want to bring very strong positive energy. Today Cherise this means you. To make this grid work properly for you and so that you get the best out of it’s influence, all you need to do is to concentrate on the photo which I have attached to this email. The grid will then be ‘activated’.

And here is the Grid:

I can see some quartz, and some other bits of rock, one or two of which may be ferrous, and therefore magnetic, placed around a two-coloured crayon pattern drawn with a compass. The note on the right refers to energy (always a dead give-away they don’t have a f*cking clue what they’re talking about), colour frequencies, vitality, balance and, of course, CHAKRAS!

The “line of sight” through the stones is supposed to generate the “magnetic energy field” that’s going to reach out and change my life when I concentrate on this accumulation of Scratch Patch left-overs. Really? How does that work EXACTLY?

I keep looking at it, but nothing is happening. Why not? Because some guy’s hastily assembled, badly photographed, badly written bit of woo is not going to convince any rational person of its magical powers, that’s why not!

Are there really people who buy into this utter crap? How crazy do you have to be to think there is some method a handful of common stones arranged on a kid’s drawing can generate an “energy field”? And then, assuming that “energy field” is activated and streaming at you from your PC or iPad’s screen, how exactly does it vitalise, balance and energise your chakras – which are themselves a load of self-delusional bullshit?

Just for the record, for those who aren’t already aware of the basic facts of reality and live in some fuzzy world where placebos rule their lives:

  • bits of stones do not generate energy fields, unless they are magnetic or radioactive
  • a magnetic field around a piece of iron is of very limited size (unless it’s a HUGE magnet) and such a field cannot and will not radiate out and change your life
  • there’s no such thing as a sacred grid. The above is a simple geometric drawing a 6-year-old could do without any difficulty. The “sacredness” is in the head of the humans who invented it.
  • staring at this picture may relax you, take your mind off your troubles for a while, even make you feel good if you are that way inclined. It will NOT change your environment or your life – you have to do that for yourself.
  • chakras are not real.

The bottom line, once again, is you should not be taken in by people claiming to be able to help you change your life with astrology, chakra-healing, reiki-healing, aura-healing or any other “alternative” ideology. They count on people’s hopes and dashed dreams to make themselves a nice little profit out of your gullibility.

Your life will only change, if you need it to, when you take control and make the changes happen for yourself.


I would like to repeat something I wrote in my post about Auras:

Try living each day as though it might be your last and ENJOY IT!  Love deeply and strongly; appreciate the kindness you receive, and give as much as you can in return; learn about the real world so you can understand why things happen – and tackle your problems head-on, instead of cowering behind irrationality;  be compassionate towards your fellow Earthlings – human and animal. Most of all – LOVE YOURSELF! Appreciate yourself, you are actually a Good Person :-)