Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

The Department of Higher Education and Training is set to roll out the first policy on managing gender-based violence in institutions of higher learning.

Higher Education and Training Deputy Minister Buti Manamela told an imbizo on gender-based violence on Tuesday that the policy would be a comprehensive prevention‚ care and support programme to be adopted nationally. The imbizo was held at the Coastal KZN TVET College’s Umlazi V campus.

The deputy minister‚ who started his address by observing a moment of silence for Zolile Khumalo‚ a Mangosuthu University of Technology student who was allegedly murdered by her former boyfriend at a university residence‚ as well as for Jabulile Nhlapo‚ a University of SA student who suffered the same fate.

Both were killed in May.

"Let us take a moment of silence for countless young women who find themselves trapped in abusive relationships with no means of escape‚" Manamela said.

He said the policy would provide universities and colleges with a set of standards and guidelines on how to take civil action against perpetrators of gender-based violence on campus, whether they were lecturers‚ students or university personnel.

Speaking about the high vulnerability and susceptibility to HIV that gender-based violence victims face‚ Manamela said the policy would also make provisions to provide care and support‚ including access to post-exposure treatment.

"Not only will we aim to deter gender-based violence‚ but also ensure that victims are supported and linked to care and support‚" he said.

The policy is expected to be gazetted and finalised for release in the third quarter of 2018.

The imbizo was co-hosted by the Higher Education and Training Health‚ Wellness and Development Centre to tackle high rates of gender-based violence at educational institutions which adversely affect the performance of students and staff.