Minister Zulu urges South Africans to stay safe this festive season

South Africa, Pretoria: As many people will be travelling to various holiday destinations across the country to rest and enjoy the festive season with their families and friends, the Minister of Social Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu, is urging all South Africans to celebrate responsibly and to keep those less privileged among them in their thoughts this festive season.

South Africa, Pretoria: As many people will be travelling to various holiday destinations across the country to rest and enjoy the festive season with their families and friends, the Minister of Social Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu, is urging all South Africans to celebrate responsibly and to keep those less privileged among them in their thoughts this festive season.

“In the last two years, we celebrated the festive season in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we celebrate this wonderful time of the year without restrictions, I encourage us all to take a moment to pause, celebrate the gift of life and exemplify the spirit of Christmas by reaching out and sharing what we have and what we can. Sadly, this is also the time of the year that we experience an increase in acts of violence against the most vulnerable – children, women, older persons and persons with disabilities,” said Minister Zulu.

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Furthermore, Minister Zulu added, “We, therefore, should remain vigilant during this time. If you or anyone you know is being abused, or if you suspect someone you know may need help, please contact the Gender-Based Violence Command Centre on 0800 428 428 (0800 GBVF GBVF). The Command Centre can also be accessed by sending a Please Call Me: *120*7867#, SMS ‘Help’: 31531 or using Skype: Helpme GBV. The Command Centre will remain fully operational 24/7 during this festive season.”

It is important for parents and caregivers to ensure the safety of children by knowing the whereabouts of their children at all times, as perpetrators prey on vulnerable children during this time. 

In promoting the 365 Days comprehensive Child Protection campaign, South Africans are reminded that everyone has the responsibility to ensure that children in their care are safe and always protected.

Elder abuse is also a major cause for concern. It comes in many different forms – physical abuse, emotional abuse, or financial abuse. Many times, sadly, elder abuse involves a family member.

This must be condemned by all South Africans as it is equivalent to the violation of fundamental human rights as entrenched in the Constitution and the Older Persons Act 13 of 2006. The Department will, as part of strengthening its awareness programmes, continue to protect older persons and empower communities about Alzheimer’s, dementia and other conditions affecting older persons’ health and wellbeing.

One of the major contributing factors to gender-based violence and road accident fatalities during this time of the year is the abuse of alcohol. 

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The Department of Social Development is the custodian of the Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Act, 70 of 2008, which mandates the Department to develop programmes and support initiatives aimed at the prevention and treatment of substance abuse.

The Act exists to prevent the usage and treatment of substance use disorders, as well as the reduction, production, and distribution of illicit drugs in South Africa. 

In collaboration with the Central Drug Authority (CDA), the Department is also expected to play a part and contribute towards the building of safer and healthier communities through coordinated efforts. This is part of building a caring society for all South Africans.

This role, the Minister says, can be realised through the effective implementation of the National Drug Master Plan (NDMP, 2019 – 2024, which is a guiding tool towards working in collaboration with Civil Society Organisations and communities to reduce the demand for and supply of drugs in the country.

LET US UNITE AGAINST A DRUG-FREE SOCIETY!

Being responsible for the implementation of Pillar 4 of the National Strategic Plan (NSP) on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide, the Department of Social Development will continue its role of making provisions and strengthening communities through institutional Response, Care, Support and Healing to GBVF survivors and their families. 

The implementation of Pillar 4 requires all South Africans, including Civil Society Organisations, Faith Based Organisations, and society at large, to play their part. It is for this reason that the GBVCC will be operational throughout the festive season, 24 hours a day.

The Department suggests residents spend time with their families more, and the government offices will be closed from 23 December 2022 at 10h00 until 3 January 2023.

In the end, Minister Zulu wishes all South Africans a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.