Traditional leaders called to make villages safer

Monday, May 29, 2017

Pretoria – President Jacob Zuma has called on traditional leaders to work with the police to make villages safer and actively get involved in the fight against the abuse of women and children.

President Zuma said it is of concern that violence and crime occurring in rural communities tends to be underreported in the media.

“Every incident of crime against women and children must be prioritised. The police have been instructed not to turn women away when they come to report violence,” he said.

Speaking at the Traditional Leaders Indaba currently underway at the Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg near Johannesburg, President Zuma said the country has been engulfed by despicable violence against women and children.

“We urge traditional leaders to work with government in ensuring that this scourge is eradicated in our communities.

“Family members and neighbours must not turn a blind eye to domestic violence and the abuse of women and children. These incidents must be reported to the police and action must be taken against the abusers,” he said.

The President appealed to women to take all signs of abuse, be it emotional or physical, seriously and report it to the police.

“They must not give excuses for the abuse as the matter will escalate, even leading to death.

“The attacks don’t occur in homes only. There are cases of women having been attacked on their way to work or anywhere else. Women must enjoy the freedom of movement in the country and must not live in fear,” the President said.

Unity, social cohesion

The President said traditional leaders must help in instilling unity, social cohesion and nation building.

“It is also important that we emphasize our value systems, which are informed by our rich customs and traditions, such as Ubuntu.”

Another matter that traditional leaders need to grapple with is that of the serious problem of racism, which still exists in the country.

“We have since 1994 worked hard to build a non-racial society, and this programme continues. We want to see unity, respect and tolerance amongst all our people, black and white,” he said.

The President said all South Africans must be treated with dignity and respect, be they farm workers, factory workers, domestic workers or professionals. Nobody should be subjected to the dehumanization of racism.

“Let us expose racism and promote awareness of behaviour that constitutes racism, especially in rural areas where there is less media attention, which may result in people suffering in silence.”

In the fight against racism, government, through the Department of Justice, is finalising the National Action Plan against Racism and Related Intolerances.
The plan will give further clarity and guidance to government and to the broader South African society on the fight against racism and related intolerances.
“We have also published the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill which will criminalise several forms of discrimination including racism.”

Revival of townships

“As traditional leaders we know that the economic wellbeing of our people is important to you. The challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality continues to afflict us,” the President said.

The President said government also wants to see a revival of township and rural enterprises and more support will be provided to the two sectors.

He said government is keen to engage traditional leaders on the radical socio-economic programme and its implementation in rural areas in particular.

“You will also discuss economic matters that are close to the institution of traditional leadership, such as land redistribution.

“The economic liberation of our people is fundamentally based on land redistribution and ownership and we cannot compromise on this,” the President said.

The Indaba takes place during the election year of all structures of traditional leadership. It will set the tone for the next five years of the term of office of all structures of traditional leaders.

The Indaba will consider critical issues affecting the people and the country, taking forward the work that has been done in the past five years, and looking ahead to the future. –

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