Majuba TVET College students have found themselves at the mercy of ‘Sugar Daddies’ and ‘Blessers’ in order to survive the harsh realities of student life and putting themselves at the risk of HIV/Aids infections.
KZN MEC for Health Dr Sbongiseni Dhlomo made this shocking discovery during a dialogue with 500 students at a launch of the The First Things First campaign at Majuba TVET College CPD Campus, last Thursday.
The lack of rent money and food have led to many students from outside Newcastle studying at Majuba College, exposing themselves to older men who provide these everyday necessities. STIs and back-door abortions are also on the increase in the college, with three students visiting traditional doctors every week, according to a traditional healer representative during the dialogue. He also said the students do not visit clinics to terminate. The KZN Department of Health has also discovered a high number of pregnancies in the college. Students are also reluctant to test for HIV due to the stigma related to the disease.
Students spoke out during the dialogue and shared their plight with the MEC. The aim of the campaign was to understand the challenges students face with regards to HIV and AIDS related at their institution. The issue around sugar daddies seemed to be the largest contributor to the scourge of HIV and Aids related illnesses.
The delay of the pay out by the National Student Fund (NSFAS) has also created a gab and pressured students to look for alternative means of survival and thus putting their lives in danger. While some students had achieved good marks for the year, they have had to stay at home for this year as NSFAS ended up not paying their fees and accommodation as per their expectations.
The day started with areobics at the college to promote healthy lifestyle as the MEC joined in health officials and students. The campaign also was attended by Amajuba District Mayor Cllr Dr Musa Ngubane, HEAIDS CEO Dr Ramneek Ahluwalia as well as the LGTBI representatives who also shared their plight of not being accepted at the clinics when they need to get their ARVs.
They also alleged that lecturers within the college have also become blessers and taking advantage of the students. Most of these students hail from rural areas in Nquthu, Vryheid and KwaNongoma. They also often get exposed in shebeens in order to find men to ‘bless’ them. Fellow students also urged their female students to stop seeing men as ‘work’ and be independent.
The Male Medical Circumcision (MMC) has also not been a success in Amajuba District per a report by the department.
The First Things First campaign contributes to an objective of the 2017-2022 National Strategic Plan for HIV, STIs and TB to maximise opportunities for testing for HIV. The campaign provides for the testing of large numbers using HIV rapid finger prick tests. It is supported by an appropriate pre-test and post-test counselling and education programme. University based counsellors and testers are trained as required.
Continued on page 2…