Cabinet ministers make pepper spray promise to students
Cape Town - Cabinet ministers have promised to provide students at universities in the Western Cape with pepper spray as part of efforts to fight gender-based violence.
This followed a meeting between the ministers and students.
Students had marched on Parliament and the World Economic Forum on Africa at the Cape Town International Convention Centre where they demanded action from the government.
Students said they did not feel safe and wanted timeframes for the government to deliver the pepper spray.
Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Lindiwe Sisulu said they needed to find resources to help students.
“We commit we will find resources to ensure every girl of a particular age at a university has a pepper spray. We are asking the private sector to help,” said Sisulu.
She said Minister of Police Bheki Cele would make an announcement.
“The minister will make an announcement with the administration of universities and colleges so that we know how many students and the point of collection,” said Sisulu.
She said they wanted every student to feel safe at universities while the government was looking for a long-term solution.
The murder of UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana was described by President Cyril Ramaphosa as a sign of a national crisis and that the government needed to do more.
Mrwetyana’s death followed the murder of Cape Town student Jess Hess.
Angeline Clark-Abrahams also killed by her husband in the Eastern Cape. A KwaZulu-Natal man this week allegedly murdered his four children after his wife divorced him.
Minister of Women Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said government should no longer tolerate the killing of women and children. She said women should not be afraid to do what they want to do because of men.
Students told the ministers that universities had become places where women were attacked and they feared for their lives.
They said they needed urgent interventions from the government to prevent attacks on campuses.
The ministers said they would look at increasing security measures at universities.
Cele and Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said they needed to bring in all stakeholders to discuss ramping up security at universities.
Universities provide private security, but the cabinet members said plans were needed to tighten security.
They said they did not want students to become the targets of criminals and sexual offenders.
Cele would not say how soon they would meet stakeholders.
Political parties also called on government to do more to protect women and children.
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