Read time: 3 minutes

Social Justice and Transformation Unit champions youth safety

By Azande Ralephenya.

"The Social Justice and Transformation Unit cannot sit back and fold their arms or be spectators while students, females in particular, are being victimised, abused by their male counterparts and criminals in and around their student accommodation," said Joseph Radebe, Manager of the Social Justice and Transformation Unit.

He was sharing his vision and goal of developing a Youth Safety Forum for the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) and surrounding communities at a meeting held at VUT on 26 January.

VUT support staff, the SRC, community and government safety representatives were in attendance at this meeting to form a new committee that aims to champion youth safety.

In leading the conversation, Radebe touched on matters such as the development of a Safety Plan, partnerships with local and national government safety departments and the 2018 safety awareness campaigns that are set to take place on campus.

Representing the Gauteng Department of Community Safety, Teboho Mohomane said the drafting of a safety plan would be the first step towards kick-starting the campaign this year.

"We need to form partnerships with the municipal offices, SAPS, VUT and local community policing forums and draft a plan that speaks to the safety challenges we face in our community. This campaign is not a once-off initiative, but a long-term plan aimed at educating young people and eradicating violence in our communities and VUT in particular. Therefore it is important to ensure that we include and actively involve the students when drafting the plan. International students also need to be orientated around bylaws and regulations of the country and the university," he said.

With partners such as the Gauteng Department of Community Safety, Emfuleni Municipality Community Safety, South African Police Service (SAPS) and local community safety representatives, the campaigns will be driven to interact more with students.

The committee indicated that they are targeting the week of 20 February to host the first safety awareness campaign which the MEC of Safety in Gauteng, Sizakele Nkosi Malobane is expected to attend. Since the focus is on protecting the youth from violence, especially young women, the Gauteng Department of Community Safety will be giving away whistles and pepper spray and have also indicated an interest in providing self-defence classes. Peer educators will also be involved giving the students the necessary training and advice on safety, HIV/AIDS and other matters relating to young people.