GBVF National Strategic Plan implementation & Gender Equality in Tertiary Institutions

Higher Education, Science and Technology

24 November 2021
Chairperson: Ms N Mkhatshwa (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

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The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) presented its progress on gender-responsive planning, budgeting, monitoring and evaluation and auditing for inclusion of targeted groups in Science, Technology And Innovation (STI) programmes and initiatives.

The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) gave a progress report on the National Strategic Plan on Gender-based Violence and Femicide (GBVF); the Ministerial Task Team on GBV in Universities and implementation of the GBV Policy Framework in the Post-School Education and Training (PSET) sector.

The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) spoke on its GBV work in the PSET sector; follow-up investigations and hearings targeted at gender transformation in institutions of higher learning; specific cases of GBVF such as the alleged rape at Barberton campus, the murder at University of Fort Hare, and the death of a student at Thekweni TVET College.

The SA Technical and Vocational Education and Training Students Association (SATVETSA) presented on GBV experiences from a students' perspective. SATVETSA shared the most common acts of GBV in TVET colleges; root causes and suggested various interventions.

Committee members asked about the Gender Desk and how it would work; budget allocation for GBVF programmes and courses; about budget set aside for GBVF; gender representation targets; DHET interventions on CGE recommendations and lack of implementation of gender sensitive policies; consequences for perpetrators; budget allocated for GBVF Presidential Interim Committee, National Strategic Plan and Emergency Response Action Plan and advocacy programmes; tightening up security on campus and security service gender sensitivity training; CGE involvement in setting up GBV policies at institutions; and about mental health therapy.

Meeting report

The Chairperson said this engagement is critical to the Committee noting that GBVF has been identified as a pandemic in the country. In all spheres we need to ensure that there is demographic representation to assist in making spaces more inclusive and safer. Hopefully the conversation that will not be merely about ticking boxes but be fruitful and impactful to the better lived experience of women and the LGBTQI community. We need to push the sector forward so we can see real and legitimate changes happening.

DSI Annual Report on Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality
Ms Gugu Zwane, DSI DDG: Institutional Planning and Support, spoke about the progress by DSI on implementing the Framework on Gender-Responsive Planning, Budgeting, Monitoring, Evaluation and Auditing for the inclusion of targeted groups in STI programmes (see document).

Discussion
Ms J Mananiso (ANC) asked about the Gender Desk and how it would work because at times people establish these platforms merely for compliance. All marginalised groups and vulnerable groups should be included in this. The presentation stated that everybody will be part of ensuring there is delivery on the implementation of the Policy Framework. Members would urge the Department to play its facilitating and coordinating role to ensure its stakeholders played their part.

Has DSI conducted research on or surveyed communities such as the LGBTQI community and other vulnerable groups to get a sense of how much they were affected?

Ms C King (DA) asked DSI what budgeting was set aside to ensure there were technological advancements to address the scourge of GBVF.

The Chairperson said DSI could assist in creating a monitoring and evaluation tool to assist in alleviating the GBV challenges in institutions of higher learning. We can look at infrastructure or even panic buttons installed on campuses.

She noted on slide 7 that DSI had reached 50%. She believed that it should be higher considering the demographics in the country. Would it be possible to compile a spreadsheet on how DSI and its entities looks in terms of gender representation at all levels?

As the Decadal Plan is finalised, are we having critical conversations about these issues with the stakeholders? This may also touch on budget as this is always a challenge. We always speak about fighting GBV but resources to make that fight possible and successful are not available. Is DSI engaging its entities on the budget for fighting GBV?

DSI response
Ms Zwane replied that DSI is in the process of engaging the HSRC on the Gender Desk. Currently, there are two individuals within DSI. We believe that bringing in the HSRC will assist in indentifying all factors required to have an effective, properly working Gender Desk. She noted the performance agreements. As for gender forums, DSI would request to respond in writing about this. DSI has not yet conducted a survey looking at other vulnerable groups, especially the LGBTQI community, but the comments were noted and it may be considered as the process unfolds.

In senior management positions, one finds that from the pool of applicants, those who qualify are not always women. DSI does sometimes have more rounds of recruitment to accommodate women. However, in some instances the calibre of the applicants may not necessarily be satisfied with the limited remuneration packages offered by government and we end up losing the right candidate that fits the profile we are looking for.

Dr Ursula Rust, DSI Senior Policy Specialist, added about the Gender Desk saying it is a pivotal government instrument for transformation. DSI was already hosting two structures that may be called a Gender Desk. The first was hosted by the Academy of Sciences South Africa and within the Department – the SADC Gender Desk. We have secured donor funding of R2 million to provide support for Gender-Based Violence. We have utilised a portion of this budget on research done by HSRC on GBVF. The Gender Desk within the Department will cut across the entire system of innovation. We have gone a long way planning this intervention and submissions have been made already. All the work done needs to be evidence based hence the role of HSRC comes in strongly. In the White Paper we have identified surveys that have been funded significantly and one of these surveys includes GBVF. We need also to look into accommodating the LGBTI community and DSI has engaged with the Department of Women, Youth and People with Disabilities on this.

It would be useful for us to put together a detailed presentation on the interventions implemented across the board of the Science and Innovation portfolio.

The Chairperson sought clarity if the budget within the DSI portfolio was indeed limited, which in turn affects the execution of the ground-breaking work in addressing GBVF.

She welcomed the 52% procurement spent on women-owned companies. She commended DSI for this achievement and it shows that the Department heeds the recommendations of the Committee. Lastly, what informs the gender representation targets?

Ms Zwane replied that in terms of being decisive about gender budgeting, DSI has not yet applied its mind as it should. This does not necessarily mean that it has been neglected. Going forward in light of the Decadal Plan, this is something that has been spoken about and will be addressed at that level. She emphasized that there were no budget limitations necessarily but just that DSI needs to be decisive on the plans and targets and allocating resources towards those.

Prof Yonah Seleti, DSI Acting Deputy Director-General: Research and Development Support, added that DSI was guided by the Ministerial Guideline on budgeting. We expect entities to implement that – their budget for human capital must be a reflection of those guidelines. We see this in the outputs of researchers and funding representation to various students. The Ministerial Guideline issued in 2013 for DSI entities was based on the country’s population representation and the desired political course.

The new Postgraduate Funding Policy, follows the Ministerial Guideline and numbers have been drafted for black and women transformation targets. This would then be translated into the transformation framework for implementation.

The Chairperson concluded this engagement with DSI saying there is agreement that the work done needs to translate to better living realities for women and girls as well as members of the LGBTQI community. Gender budgeting needs to be prioritised within the science and innovation space. We need to continually make analysis of the intersection of class and race and ensure that opportunities were inclusive for students coming from institutions that were historically disadvantaged. We need to work on the GBV dashboard as an indicator.

Once we have women sitting at home with their qualifications, we are still sitting at 48.96%. We need to look at how that gap can be closed, The reasoning that the demand is not there or the opportunities are not being taken up is a concern because Members often receive texts from graduates but DSI was sitting with a gap. We cannot have this shortage when there are those who are qualified and possess the requisite experience but were sitting at home.

The GBV issue requires us to be harsh in ensuring that it is addressed.

DHET on Implementation of National Strategic Plan on GBVF
Mr Nkosinathi Sishi, Director-General: DHET, said that the Department has presented a set of initiatives to show where the challenges were within the system and how these challenges would be addressed in due course. We recognise that there are too many loophole in the implementation of the policies but we have taken a harsher stance that there will be repercussions for those that violate and perpetrate GBVF. We will strengthen our hand to ensure that we provide examples that is in touch with the realities that our people experience.

Yonwaba Manyanya presented on how DHET has been monitoring the implementation of the National Strategic Plan on GBVF; progress in the work of the Ministerial Task Team on GBV in Universities; implementation of the Policy Framework to address GBV in the entire PSET sector and implementation of the Framework on Gender-Responsive Planning, Budgeting, Monitoring, Evaluation and Auditing (2018).

Commission for Gender Equality briefing
Ms Jamela Robertson, CGE CEI, presented the Commission’s work on GBV in the PSET sector. The presentation gave background on work done during 2019/20 on follow-up investigations targeted at gender transformation in various institutions of higher learning; hearings conducted by CGE at institutions; specific GBVF cases such as the alleged rape at Barberton campus, the murder case at University of Fort Hare, and the student death at Thekweni TVET College.

SATVETSA on combating GBV in institutions and creating a safe environment
Mr Siphiwe Kumalo, SATVETSA president, presented its on combating GBV in institutions. He highlighted the most common acts of GBV in TVET colleges such as intimate partner violence; dowry deaths; rape; cyber-bullying; physical assaults against individuals perceived as gender non-conforming and requests or demands for sex in exchange for improved marks, accommodation in residences and financial support or other needs and benefits.

From SATVETSA’s perspective, the root causes of GBV in TVET colleges included:
- Stereotypes towards student populace in certain communities
- Gender norms and social norms influenced by cultural or religious background.
- Substance abuse
- Lack of conducive student residents
- Socio-economic inequalities.
- Misuse position of power.
- Stereotypes and general hate towards LGBTQI + community.

SATVETSA suggested the following necessary interventions:
• Initiating response care support and healing centres.
• Provision of victim centered, survivor focused and accessible quality services.
• Strengthen awareness programmes
• Prevention and rebuilding social cohesion.
• Deepening understanding and knowledge.
• Enhance strategic institutional wellness desk.
• Enforce and implement laws and policies.
• Elevate accountability in all levels.
• Mental health, GBV, religious and cultural questionnaire in placement tests.

SATVETSA is in partnership with DHET and SAPCO are embarking on provincial workshops on GBV, mental health and substance abuse. We are working with the Cloud Therapy company which provides online therapy sessions through their app. The company has committed to open their app for free at least for a month so our students can access their services. SATVETSA is committed to combating the spread of GBV, mental health challenges and substance abuse, to create a safe and conducive environment within our institutions and society at large. We fully support the guidelines that have been developed to address the challenges and look forward to implementation

Discussion
Ms D Sibiya (ANC) said that the DHET DG had indicated during the presentation that there was not a separate budget for GBVF. She suggested that it would assist if it made some resources available.

Mr T Letsie (ANC) appreciated the SATVETSA proposals and hoped that all stakeholders would take those proposals into consideration because they were clearly indicative of the fact that SATVETSA was on the ground and aware of these challenges from the students’ perspective.

In 2019/20 CGE had a follow up investigation targeted at gender transformation in a number of institutions. These follow ups stemmed from a number of complaints and media reports about sex for marks, sexual harassment, GBV, slow transformation on LGBTQI matters and placement of women and persons with disabilities in senior management. There were low levels of compliance to legislation. What has DHET done to respond to all these issues raised by CGE? What has happened to those accused of these acts? We know that GBV is gender based, how many complaints have been received from male students about a female lecturer asking for sex in exchange for marks? Are the complaints coming only from women?

He asked DHET about the reasons for the lack of implementation within these institutions in compliance with policy and legislation? Does it suggest that there may be many incidents that go unreported that do not get the attention of the media or do not report directly to the Commission? Are there CGE advocacy campaigns to create awareness of the role of the Commission? SATVETSA suggested that the Commission should look into intensifying its advocacy campaigns to bring awareness to students about reporting these matters.

In the previous briefing to the Committee, the CGE indicated that in 2019/20 it had conducted systemic investigations into TVET colleges only but not in CETs and SETAs. What is the status of the work undertaken at CETs and SETAs? He asked for case updates on the alleged rape at Mapulane Campus TVET College, the murder of Nosicelo Mtebeni at the University of Fort Hare and the death of Yonwaba Manyana at Thekweni TVET College.

Mr Letsie asked DHET if it reports on GBVF cases at CET colleges and SETAs. Are these matters reported to DHET by these branches?

We need to agree that GBVF in South Africa is a pandemic and it is not a departmental problem but a societal matter. Resources are put in place to defeat the pandemic but yet GBV is not treated with such calibre. It must be fought as a structural issue. DHET must look at how it can fund programmes that provide support in all institutions for GBVF. People in senior positions in these institutions believe that they are powerful and indispensible and have internal support; hence some of them keep doing this. We should consider having a sex offender register published. We should make it extremely difficult for them to even think about doing it.

Ms Mananiso said that GBVF needed to be afforded the same efforts given to the Covid-19 pandemic. People eventually adapted to the new normal and new way of living. In all the plans today, we need to obtain reports about what has been budgeted for GBVF initiatives. We need detailed reports if the programmes have a budget allocation to intensify the efforts of fighting GBVF. It was alarming that TVET and CET colleges were not given the same attention as the universities. At times one may find that TVET and CET students and personnel were the most affected by GBVF. SETAs were also a concern.

As for the involvement of local stakeholders, as much as we are creating partnerships with recognised higher institutions or NGOs, we need to partner with those at local level. We need our stakeholders to partner with local stakeholders because they are on the ground and understand the contexts in which these acts of violence were committed.

We need to fast track the process of having policies in these institutions with timeframes for when those policies must be developed and implemented. The reason programmes were dragging was because of the lack of set timelines. She recommended strategic partnerships with all stakeholders. What were the GBVF mitigating strategies from DHET? Whistleblowing was vitally important and she was pleased DHET was going to include it in its plans and policies.

Ms Mananiso said that CGE needed to pull up its socks and intensify local awareness campaigns. CGE was no longer felt on the ground. There was also inconsistency in CGE actions in different institutions. What is CGE doing to assist institutions to create a holistic policy document that will have a uniform approach in dealing with GBVF?

It must be noted that the Committee will no longer tolerate non-compliance on GBVF policies by institutions within this portfolio. If you have people who are not from minority structures in the task team, you will be stagnant. We need systematic and structural changes.

Ms Sibiya reprimanded SATVETSA and said that students were not conducting themselves properly in residences. Students also needed to find ways to conduct themselves appropriately. Students are abusing substances in residences and some get drugged or spiked and these things then result in GBV.

Ms King asked DHET if there was a budget allocated to the operations of the GBVF Presidential Interim Committee and National Strategic Plan (NSP). How much has been allocated to the Emergency Response Action Plan implementation? There was mention about rolling out preventative programmes via transformative materials and the curriculum on GBVF; is this curriculum going to be mandatory for all students? Was there consideration by DHET at looking at safe spaces and houses for students – is there a proper guide to set that up with norms and standards? The policy mentioned a charter on GBVF to be implemented by 2022; has this been realised and if not, when will it come to fruition?

There was also mention of lack of security at institutions and most of the security services need to undergo sensitivity training towards victims and do security service companies adhere to training on gender sensitivity?

She noted the student who was murdered in East London. What interactions do universities have with local government to ensure safety measures are in place for student residences to assist in curbing violence towards students?

She asked CGE how involved it was in setting up GBV policy at various institutions to ensure that this is realised given that 2022 is nearing. What percentage of the budget of universities were implemented for advocacy programmes? She read that most institutions were hamstrung in keeping their reputations intact; could that be the reason why institutions were not so eager to take up and address GBV matters or if they do they are frivolous?

Ms D Mahlatsi (ANC) commended its presentation. However, critical to GBVF is the ability to implement the proposals in the presentation. It indicated that there is not a separate budget for GBVF but instead it is infused in programmes within DHET that deal with GBVF. The fear is that we might lose money through reprioritisation and the lack of clear indicators by branches within DHET. Most branches tend to focus on their core mandate and treat GBVF as a by the way issue. This comes from experience in as far as GBVF is treated by government entities. Where there are clear indicators but no targets, there is a problem. Without set targets we will not be able to measure progress. We need clear targets so we can measure the progress on the programme intended for GBVF. The Department needs to ensure that there will be no reprioritisation of funds meant for GBVF as well as priority indicators with clear targets.

There must be a common approach for all the entities so we are able to measure NSP progress. How will DHET monitor and enforce the NSP and policy framework implemented in all institutions?

When you look at the Auditor-General report, it is clear that DHET and its entities have not been able to meet their targets; what gives DHET so much confidence that it will achieve what is intended? Most of DHET budget goes to its entities and it will have to heavily rely on implementation by its entities.

She was pleased with the CGE presentation on the follow-ups done and its work in this space. The Committee would like to hear from CGE on the progress of these cases from time to time.

Lastly, our TVETs are struggling from lack of infrastructure and many other challenges. However, it becomes important that students should be able to play a fundamental role in making sure that these institutions adhere to what is expected. By saying so, we are not saying that they must be rowdy. Issues related to infrastructure are an impediment to the wellbeing of students, which to a large extent can lead to these issues related to GBVF. However, students can play a fundamental role in terms of awareness. Perhaps, in the next engagement SATVETSA should demonstrate to the Committee what it has done and what its limitations were and what support or intervention is required from DHET.

The Chairperson was impressed by how the DG has kept himself updated on the myriad of issues happening within this portfolio. What the Committee really wants to see is the implementation of these policies and frameworks so that the lives they seek to protect change. The Committee needs to be brought into confidence about whether institutions were implementing policies. These policies must translate to the lived realities of the students or the people they are designed to protect. It cannot be enough to have policies without being reviewed for their effective implementation.

She was pleased about the capacity development programme by DHET for SRCs. Through this programme, Members hoped that the SRC structure on campuses were also part of the structures that reviewed the GBVF institutional policies.

She commended SATVETSA for its presentation and the solutions it provided. As for the online therapist app for mental health; is it being implemented by DHET or whose role is it to implement that app? Does the app cut across all TVET colleges? There was mention about one month free for a student when they use this app. What is the cost implication and who pays for the usage?

The deconstruction of GBVF attributes was appreciated and it speaks to the negative social construct of society which has ultimately led to GBVF. There should be a mandatory programme as part of the orientation programme that speaks to this violent culture perpetrated in our institutions. It would interest to see which institutions were already doing this and consider inculcating this into the system. What also becomes important is to ensure all students are registered by the time the orientation programme takes place. We need to ensure that NSFAS plays its fundamental role so students can register on time and attend the orientation programme. There should be a constant review of the GBVF curriculum by experts including those who have lived experiences to ensure that the content is evolving.

The Chairperson said that DHET regional offices must be impactful and operational – they cannot just exist for the sake of existing. It is one thing for these offices to exist and another when young women, lecturers and academic staff say that its services were not accessible to them. The same applies to the toll free help line – we cannot have systems down and inaccessible services.

Linkages between stakeholders become essential at the institutional level. She implored institutions of higher learning to allow Members of Parliament to conduct constituency oversight as individual members. This is where Members are able to hold police stations accountable on their assistance and the role that they play on supporting institutions. Institutions of high learning must not operate in silos and there is a need for increased effort amongst government entities.

She recommended the creation of a DHET spreadsheet to monitor the CGE recommendations and the progress in the implementation of those recommendations. If you look at 2018/19, CGE was able to hold hearings and investigate gender related matters at University of Zululand, Nelson Mandela University, Sol Plaatje University and University of Mpumalanga and DHET itself. In 2019/20 it covered University of Johannesburg, University of Free State, and Stellenbosch University and went back to UniZulu, UMP, NMU and Sol Plaatje. We need to have a tracking tool to see where those recommendations were being implemented and where they were not.

How did the nature of the investigations and hearings under Covid-19 in 2020/1 look like? How did the CGE manage to do its work under lockdown?

As for protection services, has DHET made an analysis on the money spent on security services on campuses? This is a serious matter because we cannot prioritise security only when students are protesting – where is security when student feel unsafe on campus?

Based on the information provided, Stellenbosch University is concerning. This validates why Stellenbosch University should come before the Committee solely on the topic of transformation.

DHET response
Mr Sishi said that DHET was being engaged quite intensely, which was beneficial to him and his team in understanding at a broader level the concerns and if the solutions were sustainable or not. He felt challenged to rethink the manner in which DHET was approaching this matter. He welcomed that DHET was quintessential in the implementation and review of these policies in the entire PSET sector.

He welcomed the criticism about the functionality of the regional office. All the questions and comments from Members will be taken to further engage on them and identify gaps in the sector on this matter. He requested that some of the questions be responded to in writing.

Ms Gasa welcomed the comments by Members. On concerns about CET sector and the extent to which it would appear that the resources were inadequate, she replied that DHET, with the assistance of the CFO and DG, has made a submission to Treasury to request additional funding for Higher Health.

The R16.1 million was a resource that can be reflected on and it was given as a consolidated figure at this point. It is a resource that is allocated by different branches for GBVF. This figure does not include the resources provided annually to Higher Health. Through the work supported in Higher Health – there is work on an app where students can call up mental health assistance. In that app there is a range of mental health practitioners that are readily available to students who are victims of GBV or any student for that matter.

On the Presidential Programme, about five months ago the President launched a fund structured similarly to the Solidarity Fund. The intention of the fund was to say that all stakeholders in the private sector and government should declare upfront resources that can be put aside for GBVF. The Department has already declared its contributing resources and that would be R16.1 million through its implementing agent, Higher Health.

We are dealing with a complex pandemic that happens off campus as well and at time is beyond our control. What complicates it further is that it affects students within safe spaces by people that they know.

There are policies and guidelines tabled by the Minister but we got the message clearly that we need to up the ante and ensure that these policies were implemented, reviewed and monitored.

Mr Sam Zungu, DHET DDG: TVET Colleges, provided an update on GBVF cases. The case of Yonwaba Manyanya who was killed in Durban was still with the police and it has not been concluded. DHET may have to collaborate with CGE to look at all the cases and verify their status and then produce a detailed report on the status of all the cases.

Our focus is not just on GBVF but on having a mandatory programme. The majority of our students are NSFAS beneficiaries. He noted the concerns raised about how students behave and the spending of NSFAS monies they receive for financial support. He would look into financial aid literacy further in terms of their behaviour in and outside the institutions.

Ms Thandi Lewin, DHET Acting Chief Director: Teaching, Learning & Research, said that it was difficult to provide detail about specific GBVF budget commitments in institutions because it is not located in one place. There would be funding that goes into HR related matters or advocacy and student support or disciplinary processes. It has been useful to hear some of the suggestions from the Committee. The difficulty is that we do not determine institutional budget but we can provide templates in which that reporting must be done. These are some of things that we are looking at through the Ministerial Task Team. We may also look at it as part of the review of the reporting regulations in relation to transformation matters.

The Ministerial Task Team (MTT) report is close to being concluded and will soon be submitted to the Minister. This report was in preparation for a number of years now and work has been done on the implementation of the GBVF Policy Framework. The Task Team will make recommendations on a number of issues including reporting, policy analysis, gaps in policy, reporting and monitoring, safety in student residences. The sexual offender register is part of the specific terms of reference. The Task Team sought legal advice on this matter and will be making recommendations on it.

There is also another task team that primarily focuses on the university sector. There are two different task teams with slightly different mandates, in the sense that the MTT will specifically make recommendations at a high level – broader than the task team that primarily focuses on the university sector. The Higher Health task team is focusing on operationalising the framework.

The Department has very clear targets on gender equality specifically if one looks at the university capacity development programme and staffing South Africa’s universities programme. We have been engaging with institutions and engaging with the CGE report. At that engagement, there were conversations around the broader gender equity and mainstream challenges.

On safety, it would be useful to engage with the universities because a great deal of work has been done by universities individually with the South African Police Service. She hopes a report on this will be furnished. Universities South Africa (USAf) has been working a lot on the training of security staff at institutions.

The case of Nosicelo Matebeni is currently in the courts and it has sparked a lot of conversation at local government level. There have been quite considerable conversations at that level following this tragedy.

DHET has recently concluded the SRC Capacity Building Workshop and there was a focus on gender based violence. However, this is something that we could look at more. There is also a great deal of work at institutional level on the orientation programme and advocacy programme and work on the curriculum. It would be helpful to provide greater detail in the near future.

There is a large amount of research going on in the system that supports some of these areas. The research focuses on what institutions should be doing and the Ministerial Task Team is drawing on quite a bit of this work in making its recommendations. There is a very strong area of knowledge development around gender equity in the sector. We have recently seen a number of public engagements through the universities and she has been personally involved in some of them.

Ms Gasa added that there was alignment between the programmes of DHET and the Presidency. All that has been done by DHET comes from the work initiated by the Presidency during the summit in St Georges which culminated on the NSP on GBVF. The Department ensured that it aligned its response as the PSET system to the work led from the top. The Department will highlight the extent of its indicators and targets aligned to this work.

Two SONAs ago the President spoke at length about ensuring that students were enabled by a safe environment where they could learn. Part of that was a commitment by government in collaboration with the private sector in investing on the student housing infrastructure programme. Some of the DHET officials were part of the Student Housing Infrastructure Programme (SHIP). The allocations for infrastructure has sought to ensure that applications by universities looked at the fact that infrastructure must be built in a way that is sustainable and the hybrid nature of pedagogy means there will be a mix of contact and virtual learning. In many ways one of the things we are building on is the importance of safety for students.

SATVETSA response
Mr Khumalo replied that the level of substance abuse by students is problematic. The abuse of alcohol must be dealt with as well as other substances. Substance abuse is a problem and students often do not know or are aware that they are suffering from substance abuse. We also need to intensify the message that this is not something normal. Many things have been normalised in our institutions that could potentially destroy the future of our students and institutions. We therefore encourage the SRCs to raise awareness of these matters. Some of these students do not even consume alcohol in their homes but only do so when they are on campus because of peer pressure. We have encouraged our SRCs to look into accrediting more support groups that speak to GBVF on campus when accrediting pubs and clubs on campus to intensify measures that reduce exposure to GBVF.

There is a Cloud Therapy app that has three questionnaires about substance abuse, GBVF and mental health. Students can choose from those three questionnaires the appropriate one they seek help with. After completing the questionnaire, there is a survey that is concurrently being completed with a diagnosis. That is when the student is advised to consult a psychologist and the company availed their psychologists for one month free. This service will not be free any longer but the initiative should be assessed once students have utilised the platform to ascertain if it has been helpful. If it is useful to students, DHET and the college should incur the expense instead of being incurred by students.

He suggested that at the beginning of students’ careers, we should have these questionnaires available to students so institutions are able to establish the backgrounds of the students. This will assist the institutions to know the types of students being accepted into the institutions.

CGE response
Ms Robertson replied that the hearings were conducted physically and the CGE has looked at new strategies including virtual appearances. When she read the hearings report, what was coming out were female students who had submitted complaints about how male lecturers were requesting sex for marks. There were no male student complaints. CGE will seek more information from the investigators to be able to indicate if there male complainants as well. This information will then be provided to the Committee.

CGE is often seems to be focusing on high profile cases; but CGE needs to improve our reporting because there are hundreds of cases reported on the ground across the provinces. CGE hardly reports this information to the Committee but it will be made available when presenting so that Members have a full picture of the cases CGE deals with.

The Commission does conduct advocacy campaigns but perhaps these were not very visible. The challenge CGE may be confronted with is that we have one warm body for each province and they cover so much ground in their respective provinces on the ground. It was about time that we asked Treasury for more resources to have more impact in our interventions.

On the systemic investigation reported in June 2020 and follow-ups with SETAs and CETs, this is the second area where she requests to get the information from the investigators.

There were also cases were perpetrators of GBVF were not arrested. This is another area where she would need to obtain information from the investigators on why those perpetrators were not arrested. A written response will be provided.

As for partnerships, this is one of the biggest areas of focus for CGE. There is currently a big programme in partnership with the Houses of Traditional Leaders in each province. Commissioners are delegated to the different provinces.

There are inconsistencies between institutions around compliance and resource allocation. We have made recommendations to remedy these inconsistencies especially in resourcing and why their policies were not gender sensitive. We do recommendations in this area and also litigate where institutions do not comply.

The CGE began a programme where it monitors police stations and courts, not only on high profile cases, but to see how courts address gender equality. We focus mainly on sexual offences courts – there are annual targets for this which it reports to the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and People with Disabilities.

We have also identified weaknesses in our Act, which was passed in 1996. One of the initiatives in the coming year is to begin to review it and add more powers the Commission can exercise in its work because it has identified gaps.

CGE involvement in drafting policy and legislation is one of our core mandates and there are annual targets to submit new bills or amendments to existing laws. The Commission also has institutions that ask for its assistance in developing policies around GBVF.

The CGE will provide response in writing on if it monitors SETAs and CETs; the arrests in Mapulaneng; and gender based violence cases against males. We have had complaints of males that have reported cases – this information would be submitted in writing.

Ms Mahlatsi as Acting Chairperson thanked everyone. Work against GBVF can no longer be lip service. We ought to be deliberate in our actions. Where stakeholders were unable to respond to questions in the meeting, we encourage those responses are provided in writing and in detail.

The meeting was adjourned.

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