South Africans urged to protect the most vulnerable over the festive season
Social Development Minister, Lindiwe Zulu, has urged all South Africans to celebrate responsibly, protect the most vulnerable and keep those less privileged among them in their thoughts this festive season.
This as many people will be traveling to various holiday destinations across the country to rest and enjoy the festive season with their families and friends.
Zulu further urged people to exercise the spirit of Christmas by reaching out and sharing with the less privileged.
“In the last two years, we celebrated the festive season in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we celebrate this wonderful time of the year without restrictions, I encourage us all to take a moment to pause, celebrate the gift of life and exemplify the spirit of Christmas by reaching out and sharing what we have and what we can.
“Sadly, this is also the time of the year that we experience an increase in acts of violence against the most vulnerable – children, women, older persons and persons with disabilities,” Zulu said.
The Minister said people should remain vigilant during this time.
“If you or anyone you know is being abused, or if you suspect that someone you know may need help, please contact the Gender-Based Violence Command Centre on 0800 428 428 (0800 GBVF GBVF),” the Minister said.
The Command Centre can also be accessed by sending a Please Call Me on: *120*7867#, SMS ‘Help’: 31531 or use Skype: Helpme GBV.
Zulu said that the Command Centre will remain fully operational for 24/7 during this festive season.
Zulu said it is important for parents and caregivers to ensure the safety of children by knowing the whereabouts of their children at all times, as perpetrators prey on vulnerable children during this time.
In promoting the 365 Days Comprehensive Child Protection campaign, South Africans are reminded that everyone has the responsibility to ensure that children in their care are safe and always protected.
Zulu said elder abuse is also a major cause for concern, as it comes in many different forms – physical abuse, emotional abuse, or financial abuse.
“Many times, sadly, elder abuse involves a family member. This must be condemned by all South Africans, as it is equivalent to the violation of fundamental human rights as entrenched in the Constitution and the Older Persons Act 13 of 2006.
“The department will, as part of strengthening its awareness programmes, continue to protect older persons and empower communities about Alzheimer’s, dementia and other conditions affecting older persons’ health and wellbeing.”
Zulu said one of the major contributing factors to gender-based violence and road accident fatalities during this time of the year is the abuse of alcohol.
The Department of Social Development is the custodian of the Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Act, 70 of 2008, which mandates the department to develop programmes and support initiatives aimed at the prevention and treatment of substance abuse.
The Act exists to prevent usage, treatment of substance use disorders, as well as the reduction, production and distribution of illicit drugs in South Africa.
In collaboration with the Central Drug Authority (CDA), the department is also expected to play a part and contribute towards the building of safer and healthier communities through coordinated efforts. This is part of building a caring society for all South Africans.
This role, Zulu said, can be realised through the effective implementation of the National Drug Master Plan (NDMP, 2019 – 2024), which is a guiding tool towards working in collaboration with civil society organisations and communities to reduce the demand for and supply of drugs in the country.
Being responsible for the implementation of Pillar 4 of the National Strategic Plan (NSP) on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide, Zulu said the Department of Social Development will continue its role of making provision and strengthening communities through institutional response, care, support and healing to GBVF survivors and their families.
“The implementation of Pillar 4 requires all South Africans, including civil society organisations, faith-based organisations, and society at large to play their part. It is for this reason that the GBV Command Centre will be operational throughout the festive season 24 hours a day,” she said.
To afford the officials of the department to spend time with their families, the offices will be closed from 23 December 2022 at 10h00 until 3 January 2023.
Zulu further wished all South Africans a merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. – SAnews.gov.za