Harrismith residents voice concerns with officials

Friday, July 13, 2018

Public Service and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo has committed to returning to Harrismith in three months’ time after holding an imbizo there on Friday. 

“I am very happy with the engagement [even though] there is still a lot of work to be done in this area… We are coming back in three months’ time and [we will] bringing other departments on board as well as NGOs operating at a national level so that we can work together to address the challenges faced by our people of Harrismith,” she said.

The Minister was in the small town in the eastern Free State as part of the National Imbizo Focus Week, which started on Monday, July 9 under the theme ‘Together we move South Africa forward’. 

At the stakeholder engagement, the Minister was joined by the Deputy Ministers of Small Business Development Cassel Mathale; Telecommunications and Postal Services Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams; State Security Ellen Molekane, and the Free State Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC, Oupa Khoabane.

The government leaders also visited the local police station to inspect the victim friendly unit and the truck stop at Harrismith Highway Junction, where they held talks with commercial sex workers.

“This is the purpose of izimbizo… Nothing for the people without the people. We must consult and we must build bridges. We have also met with commercial sex workers in the area, who are complaining about the treatment they receive from the local police.

“We heard allegations that the police come and sleep with the sex workers and also take the money they find on the women. Once again, we commit to return in three months with solutions.

“We are not here to legalise commercial sex work but we are glad that the local police reassured us that even as they uphold the law, they will respect the human rights and the dignity of the commercial sex workers.

“The purpose of our visit was to get an understanding of the challenges that the N3 trucking route brings to the Harrismith community, in terms of commercial sex work, child prostitution and gender based violence,” Dlodlo said.

Izimbizo is a basis for sustained dialogue between government and the people, including civil society organs. It is a mechanism for fact-finding by government to align services with needs. It is a direct response to community issues and concerns through strengthened partnerships.

The Imbizo Focus Week will end on Sunday, 15 July. - SAnews.gov.za