TAKING NOTE | Tshepang Mabizela; the chairperson of the She Conquers campaign, Lerato Morulane; and First Lady Tobeka Madiba Zuma were part of the panel at the HEAIDS youth conference. Picture: ZANELE ZULU/ANA Pictures

DURBAN - South Africa’s law enforcement must be improved and offenders must be made to face the music.

These were some of the views raised by the youth who gathered at the HEAIDS youth conference at the Durban ICC yesterday.

Although attendees were disappointed by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s absence due to a family emergency, the conference went ahead and government officials listened to proposals from the youth.

First lady Tobeka Madiba Zuma; Deputy Minister of Education Mduduzi Manana; Deputy Minister of Finance Sifiso Buthelezi; KZN Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, and traditional leaders were among those engaging with young people.

The youth raised their concerns about the recent spate of attacks against women in the country.

They said security should be a priority as they want to live in a safe country where they were not afraid of being the next hashtag of abuse or murder.

Law student Sinothando Dube challenged the justice system.

“We are sick and tired of hearing that, each and every hour, there’s a woman killed. Cases are opened, but victims are told perpetrators have rights (for bail). Minister, the death penalty must come back,” said Dube.

The chairperson of the She Conquers campaign, Lerato Morulane, said HIV/Aids was killing the youth.

“Most of the time women are told what to do: We are told how to dress, what to eat and with whom. At this time, what does it mean to be young? Does it mean I have to be afraid of my own life?

“I also call on the feminists to understand what it means to be a feminist. To those (men) who call themselves male feminists, but behind closed doors rape and beat women, don’t do it,” she said.

Buthelezi said that, as a father, he too feared for his daughter’s safety.

“I am not happy about the demographics of this audience. The issues raised here affect everyone – HIV/Aids is not an issue for black people only. I have 25 nieces and daughters. What I am trying to say is that I relate to these problems; your plight is our plight.

“I get very worried when my daughter leaves home, I worry about her safety,” he said.

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