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The easiest way to do this is to score the baseplate with a straightedge and knife. Once you've made a deep enough cut, you should be able to bend and break the plate where you've scored it. You may want to sand the edge to clean it up a bit. There's a more detailed set of instructions in this Instructable.
The question is rather old, but I have one thing to add to the other answers. There is also a Banbao line for younger children (Banbao Young Ones, 3+). There's a review here. It's in Russian but Google translate worked well :) I have on set one set. It turned out that it is really compatible with DUPLO, and quality is very good.
There are some BrickLink stores that operate in South Africa. You should be able to get from them whatever you need. Here is the list of stores: http://www.bricklink.com/browseStores.asp?countryID=ZA
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