SOUTH AFRICA: GOVERNMENT COMMITTED TO PROTECTING LGBTI COMMUNITY

Cabinet has condemned all acts of violence motivated by prejudice.

"Government continues to address the safety issues of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people," Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Jeff Radebe assured on Friday.

He was briefing the media after the last Cabinet meeting for the year.

The affirmation from Cabinet comes days after the murder of 22-year-old lesbian Noluvo Swelindawo from Driftsands near Khayelitsha. The heinous crime was committed during the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children 2016 campaign.

The campaign is being held under the theme, 'Count Me In: Together Moving a Non-Violent South Africa Forward'.

Measures put in place to address such crimes include the introduction of the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill. The bill seeks to create the offences of hate crimes and hate speech, and to put in place measures to prevent and combat these offences.

The aim is to address the increasing number of racial incidents and to further address other types of criminal conduct motivated by bias, prejudice or intolerance in the form of hate crimes and hate speech, which have occurred recently.

This is aligned to the National Development Plan, which highlights the need for sustained campaigns against racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia. It also seeks to ensure that all people are and feel safe.

The bill, which is in the consultative phase, will strengthen enforcement and prosecution, Radebe said.

Meanwhile, Cabinet also applauded South African scientists for launching the new clinical trials for the HIV vaccine, known as HVTN 702.

"The trial is one of the biggest in the world and bears testimony to the competency of the scientific and medical fraternity," said Radebe.

He said government continues in its partnership with all stakeholders - including PHILA and the South African National Aids Council - to achieve an Aids-free generation, stop all new HIV infections, end the TB epidemic and encourage all citizens to make healthy, responsible choices.

South Africa has achieved its targets for antiretroviral (ARV) treatment and it now has the largest ARV programme in the world, with 3.4 million people on treatment in 2015.

The prevention of mother-to-child transmission target was reached, with a marked decline from more than 3.5% in 2010 to 1.8% in 2014.

Sexual transmission of HIV among youth aged 15 - 24 years declined from 410 000 individuals in 2011 to 330 000 in 2014.

New TB infections and TB deaths declined, but the target to achieve a 50% reduction in TB deaths was not reached.

Over 800 million male condoms and over 20 million female condoms were distributed in the last financial year, while the HIV testing campaign saw 35 million HIV tests done over the five-year period.

South Africa has over 300 GeneXpert machines (TB testing machine) deployed countrywide and over 2.1 million GeneXpert tests have been conducted.

In 2016, South Africa implemented the universal test and treat programme, where every HIV positive person is put on treatment, regardless of their CD4 cell count.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK