HEAIDS condemns student's killing

 The South African National AIDS Council –Civil Society Forum (SANAC CSF) and The South African Higher Education and Training HIV/AIDS programme (HEAIDS) would like to condemn the murder of the Ventersdorp student on the basis of her perceived sexual orientation. 

The late Gift (Disebo) Makau was a student doing a diploma in Business Management at Vuselela FET College in Potchestroom North West at the time of her death.

 The Higher Education & Training HIV/AIDS Programme (HEAIDS) is working across the 420 education and training campuses across every district and province within South Africa to assist students and staff to prevent and mitigate against HIV/AIDS, STIs and TB, and to promote health and wellness among the two million young people who are part of the higher education and training constituency. HEAIDS also caters for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and inter-sexual (LGBTI) populations on campus, and make efforts to address the needs of this often marginalised population.

“We are deeply saddened by the death of Gift Makau particularly as she was reportedly killed for being a lesbian. HEAIDS strives through its programmatic interventions to highlight the challenges that our student LGBTI populations face and this incident reminds us that we have yet much to do. As HEAIDS we are shocked at the news and this inhumane act to happen in Women’s Month shows that some people out there still do not care about women’s rights and women in general,” said Dr Ramneek Ahluwalia, Director of HEAIDS.

 On 14 August 2014, HEAIDS Women’s Health & Empowerment-Zazi Programme was launched at the University of Johannesburg Soweto Campus and it coincided with the inaugural youth dialogue that HEAIDS has initiated with young people across universities and TVET institutions.

 “Young people need safe spaces where they can tackle not only HIV and pregnancy, but other problems and solutions including different social groups and socially excluded populations such as the LGBTI community. The HEAIDS youth dialogues aim to provide such spaces,” continued Dr Ahluwalia.

Ms Steve Letsike, Deputy Chairperson, South African National AIDS Council expressed her shock and dismay at the killing. “I am at a loss for words. The barbaric murder of this woman for being a lesbian should be treated with the contempt it deserves. This kind of act should never have happened and we need the society to change their attitude towards Lesbians, Gay, Bisexuals, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people. South African Government and communities should address and upscale preventions programmes that address hate crimes and Gender Based Violence in our communities, the war on women’s body should stop;” said Ms Letsike. 

 HEAIDS delegation will accompany SANAC CSF on behalf of all Universities and Colleges in South Africa to pay their respect to the family of the deceased on 23 August 2014.