Vryburg, 04 April 2024: Traditional leaders from five of the fourteen villages from Batlaping Ba-Ga Mothibi gathered at the Traditional Council in Sekhing village in the North West to attend the first day of the two day workshop on the Rock Leadership Programme facilitated by Dr Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, the Deputy Minister of Social Development.


As part of the Social and Behavioural Change (SBC) compendium the department of Social Development developed the Rock Leadership Programme which focuses on traditional leaders as partners in the in prevention of new HIV infections and other social ills. The workshop’s aim was to sensitise, promote positive traditional norms and promote culture as vehicle to social cohesion and positive behaviour change. SBC programmes are aimed at promoting positive behavioural outcomes that are critical in altering the course of the HIV pandemic.


Approximately 7.8 million people are living with HIV in South Africa in 2022 compared to 7.9 million in 2017. What has been alarming is the notable new infections amongst young people between the ages of 15 and 24.


“South Africa has a problem of synthetic drugs also known as designer drugs which makes rehabilitation a problem, this area has a high prevalence of youth use of lean by the youth. This is a mixture of cough medicine, fizzy drink and some candy. The youth gets addicted to this mixture very quickly because of its stimulant properties, as you can imagine chances of them remembering to use a condom when they are high on drugs are very low, hence we see the number of children having children on the rise and lets not ignore the sexually transmitted diseases and infections”


Dr Bogopane-Zulu emphasised that “Foetal Alcohol Syndrome is inter-generational, when you decide to drink alcohol while you are pregnant you are deciding for your family that you want a family affected by FASD” citing medical findings that the trauma experienced by children with FASD is complex and reflects intergenerational transmission. FASD is irreversible as she implored the traditional leaders to educate community members on the dangers on the unborn child if the mother drinks alcohol.


Traditional leaders in attendance collectively agreed with Ntante …. that there is a need  “ to have regulating laws governing the use of hubbly bubbly amongst our youth as it is now a popular activity in the area and we don’t know what our children are putting in these things”.


Her Royal Highness Kgosi Ponatshego Mothibi of Batlaping Ba-Ga Mothibi pleaded “ We are grateful that you have brought this service to our area, there are a number of social ills we face in the area, we appeal to the national office to assist us with our local office that has not been operating in some, where else we have community member who travel more than 60 kilometres to seek for assistance, only to find the offices closed”, she further said “We need to teach ourselves to speak to our children to prevent some of the troubles we see in our village, I implore you to share what you have learned today with the community at large”.


The goal of the Rock Leadership programme is to capacitate traditional leaders on social and structural determinants of HIV and AIDS. The programme seeks to empower traditional leaders to be champions of HIV and gender based violence prevention in their communities. This will be done through sensitization workshops that promote positive traditional norms and promote culture as vehicle to social cohesion and positive behaviour change.


The two day workshop concludes today at  Batlaping Ba-Ga Mothibi Tribal Council.




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