Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu is set to a conduct follow -up programme on youth development and gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal.

The two-day programme which gets underway today, follows a 2020 visit that formed part of the 365 Days of Action Against GBVF, with specific focus on areas identified as hotspots across the country.

This is in line with Human Rights Month that is celebrated in the country under theme “The year of Charlotte Maxeke: promoting human rights in the Age of COVID-19”.

In a statement ahead of the start of the programme on Tuesday, the Department of Social Development (DSD) said the aim of the outreach is to mobilise young people to play their part as agents of change. This is in promoting a culture of respect for human rights, gender equality and prevention of gender-based violence, which has reached epidemic proportions in South Africa.

“The most recent crime statistics released by the South African Police Service (October-December 2020) revealed a 5% increase in reported sexual offences in the midst of COVID-19 national lockdown. Part of Zulu’s outreach will include interaction with local police to get a briefing on police response at Plessislaer, which is one of the seven GBVF hotspots in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.

“The aim of the interaction is to support and encourage police who are in the frontline of the criminal justice system to play their part in prevention and response measures and better serve the needs of victims/survivors,” the department said.

Zulu is a member of the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) established by President Cyril Ramaphosa to expedite the implementation of the National Strategic Plan (NSP) on GBVF (2019-2024).

The DSD is responsible for Pillar 4 of the NSP: response, care, support, healing and empowerment of victims/survivors.

The Minister is set to host a dialogue in Howick with young women living and working on farms.

She will also launch the Umzansi Youth in Business Digital HIV and Resource Centres in Zayeka, Sweetwaters. The Minister will also attend a commemoration of the International Social Work Day at the Pietermaritzburg City Hall.

Later in the day the Minister will host a bonfire conversation with youth and representatives of youth organisations in uMgungundlovu District Municipality at Ascott Inn, Pitermaritzburg.

The second day of the outreach programme on Wednesday, will include a 10km Walk Against GBVF and Commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s 1961 Address to the All-in Africa Conference. It will take place at Plessislaer Hall.

Zulu will also attend an interaction with police management on the response to GBVF; and attend a women empowerment initiative at the Tatham Art Gallery.

The Minister’s programme will end with a visit to KhanyiTex and ribbon cutting for an Early Childhood Development centre benefiting factory employees’ children at Coveway Industrial Park in Elangeni, Hammarsdale.

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