Nzimande urges action to curb GBV on campus

Tuesday, February 7, 2023
Minister Blade Nzimande.

Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, has called on all institutions of higher learning, together with Higher Health, to continue working collectively to stem GBV.

“This includes ensuring the provision of safe workplaces, learning spaces and residences for all staff and students in our institutions,” Nzimande said on Monday.

The call follows the gruesome murder of a Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) student, Ntokozo Mayenzi Xaba, whose murder is believed to be a gender-based violence (GBV) crime.

Xaba, a third-year student who was studying towards a National Diploma in Integrated Communication at TUT, was found last Thursday with multiple stab wounds at her off-campus residence in Pretoria Gardens, after she was last seen with her ex-boyfriend the night before.

Nzimande said Higher Health must also ensure that all institutions work collaboratively with the established multi-sectoral PSET [post-school education and training] Gender-Based Violence Technical Task Team.

Nzimande has strongly condemned the incident and passed his condolences to the Xaba family, friends and the entire Tshwane University of Technology corp.

He has since directed Higher Health to join in efforts with the TUT wellness team to provide the necessary psycho-social support to the family.

Nzimande said GBV and violence against women and girls (VAWG) is a global pandemic that affects 1 in 3 women in their lifetime.

“These numbers are staggering, with global figures indicating that as many as 38% of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner, and 35% of women worldwide experience physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence.

“This issue is not only devastating for survivors of violence and their families, but also entails significant social and economic costs, and has dire implication to the PSET sector,” Nzimande said.

Transforming MENtalities 

As part of dealing with GBV in the country’s institutions, Nzimande said he will launch the “Transforming MENtalities Initiative,” which is a multi-stakeholder partnership within the PSET sector, with a particular focus on mobilising men to be part of championing a world free of gender biases, stereotypes, violence and discrimination.

The Minister said he will soon release the Ministerial Task Team (MTT) report on sexual harassment and GBV in the university sector.

Gender Commission seeks meeting with TUT management 

Meanwhile, the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) said it will reach out to the leadership of TUT following the brutal killing of Xaba. 

CGE CEO, Phelisa Nkomo, said the Commission has in the past three years conducted investigations to assess gender transformation and GBV at public universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges to ascertain the safety of women on campuses and residences. 

Nkomo said more than 15 Vice-Chancellors appeared before the commission to help the commission understand gender related problems at their institutions. 

“One of the numerous recommendations we made was for the Department of Higher Education and Training to institute policies and procedures to deal with the scourge of gender-based violence at institutions of higher learning. 

“We urge the department to speedily ensure the implementation of our recommendations in this area. 

“We implore the criminal justice system to speedily process all GBV related cases, deny perpetrators bail and ensure a high number of convictions,” Nkomo said. –