KZN wages war against gender-based violence

Johannesburg – KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala says the province is waging a war against Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF), not just for the 16 Days of Activism, but for the next 365 days and beyond.

“We refuse that our beautiful province be associated with violent crimes, especially contact crimes and the dehumanisation of woman and children. We will take the war to criminals and perpetrators of violence against women and children,” Zikalala said.

Addressing the media on Sunday, Zikalala said that the provincial government will be scaling up interventions aimed at protecting women, children and the vulnerable in communities.

He said that the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign is grassroots-based, with all MECs, mayors, councillors and Amakhosi leading the programmes at a local level, and integrating them in line with the District Development Model.

“It is said that for evil acts to succeed, it is because good men and women keep quiet. We must act in unity to prevent and ultimately defeat this scourge, and create an environment where women and children are free to exercise their choices without the fear of being abused or attacked. Winning the battle against this epidemic will take nothing less than all of us working together,” Zikalala said.

The Premier also gave an update on truck drivers, following recent disturbances on major national highways, where trucks were burnt and drivers attacked due to a long-standing dispute over the employment of foreign nationals in the trucking industry.

Measures in trucking sector

Meanwhile, Zikalala reported that the provincial government held an emergency meeting with key stakeholders in the trucking sector on Friday, as part of efforts to bring stability to this critical sector of the economy.

“We reached important commitments which we believe that if they are implemented successfully will guarantee peace and stability in this all-important industry,” Zikalala said.

Zikalala said that, in principle they have agreed that:

  • The truck operators must with immediate effect prioritise the employment of South African drivers;
  • Together with the national government, the province will mount an intensive operation along the N2, N3 and N11 routes in KwaZulu-Natal targeting drivers without proper permits;
  • Every foreign national who is currently driving a South African-registered truck must be appropriately licenced, and hold a valid permit issued by the Department of Home Affairs. The Department of Home Affairs work permit is only issued upon offer of employment by the prospective employer in South Africa;
  • In the meantime, the truck operators have committed to providing at least 400 new jobs, and these will prioritise South Africans. We will engage the Department of Labour and Employment to manage the database of prospective drivers, which will be submitted by the driver associations, including the All Truck Drivers Foundation (ATDF), and National Drivers’ Federation;
  • The Department will also verify the drivers’ database, ensuring clear criminal records and valid qualifications. We now have a firm commitment from the drivers that there will be no burning of trucks, or the blocking of any road or entry to the Port of Durban;
  • The justice, crime prevention, and security cluster will not to abandon their core responsibility to enforce the law without any hesitation wherever this is required.

“We agree that these are stop-gap measures. The long-term solution includes effecting appropriate amendments to the law,” Zikalala said.

Review of scarce skills policy

The Premier added that their proposals to national government include speeding up the review of scarce skills policy to clarify the contentious question of the employment of foreign nationals in low-skill sectors.

“For this reason, we have escalated the matter to national government as this is not only a KwaZulu-Natal matter, but it has implications for the entire Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.

“Our provincial government is fully committed to the transformation and stabilisation of the road freight and logistics industry, which is a critical sector of the provincial and national economy,” Zikalala said.

The Premier also said that the provincial government will work together with all stakeholders, “as long as they are prepared to find a lasting solution to these current challenges”.

He said that the task team that has been assigned the responsibility of addressing challenges in the road freight sector will meet weekly to receive reports on operations.

“We wish to reiterate that we will not allow lawlessness to threaten our economy; and we have no doubt that all our key stakeholders will play their role in this regard.”

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