The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) has unveiled a series of strategic interventions aimed at addressing the pressing issue of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV).
The announcement, made during a GBV Awareness Panel Discussion at the UKZN Howard College Campus, highlighted the appointment of a central SGBV response coordinator, the creation of a specialised SGBV Investigations Unit, and the introduction of a mandatory Social Justice Educational Module for all students.
Normah Zondo, Executive Director for Corporate Relations at UKZN, emphasised the importance of the SGBV response official in enforcing a zero-tolerance policy on SGBV across all campuses.
The coordinator will also spearhead the revision of existing SGBV policies and oversee the monitoring and evaluation of reported cases.
The SGBV Investigations Unit, as explained by Zinhle Dlamini from the University’s Risk Management Services, will prioritise confidentiality and prevention of secondary victimisation.
Trained officers will be available around the clock to assist GBV victims, including accompanying them to police stations and aiding in relocation, if necessary.
The forthcoming Social Justice Educational Module aims to enlighten students on various societal issues, including SGBV, racism, and gender inequality.
“This module will foster active participation in societal change,” Zondo said.
Dr Janine Hicks, chairperson of the UKZN Gender-Based Violence Committee, expressed satisfaction with the university's alignment with government GBV policies.
Advocate Mzo Rusi, who leads the Sexual Offences and Community Affairs (SOCA) unit of the National Prosecuting Authority in KZN, provided insights into the workings of the SOCA unit and Thuthuzela Care Centres.
Sergeant Neliswa Khumalo of the South African Police Services (SAPS) briefed students on GBV reporting protocols and potential risk scenarios.
Professor Relebohile Moletsane, Vice-Chancellor of Social Cohesion at UKZN, highlighted the significance of the new Social Justice Education module in challenging societal gender norms.
Nosipho Manzini, secretary general of the UKZN Student Representative Council, acknowledged the challenges faced by GBV survivors and expressed hope for a GBV-free institution.
The panel also included discussions from various experts, including Sanele Zuma, chairperson of the UKZN 'Men of Virtue' project, who emphasised the role of men in the GBV response.
The panel concluded with a Q&A session, where attendees shared personal GBV experiences and expressed concerns about the role of patriarchy in perpetuating GBV.
UKZN plans to continue its activism and awareness campaigns, with students leading upcoming awareness marches across all campuses.