• Traditional leaders from five villages of Batlaping Ba-Ga Mothibi convened at the Sekhing village Traditional Council in the North West for a two-day workshop on the Rock Leadership Programme, led by Dr Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, the Deputy Minister of Social Development.
  • Developed as part of the Social and Behavioural Change (SBC) compendium, the Rock Leadership Programme aims to engage traditional leaders as pivotal allies in the fight against new HIV infections and other social challenges. The workshop’s objectives include raising awareness, promoting positive traditional practices, and utilising culture to foster social cohesion and positive behavioural change.
  • Despite a slight decrease in HIV prevalence from 2017 to 2022, concerning trends persist, notably an increase in new infections among young people aged 15 to 24. Dr Bogopane-Zulu highlighted the pressing issues of substance abuse, foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), and the need for regulating laws regarding hubbly bubbly use among youth. Traditional leaders echoed the urgency to address local social ills and appealed for support from national offices to strengthen community services.

Yesterday, 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 a component of the Social and Behavioural Change (SBC) compendium, the Department of Social Development created the Rock Leadership Programme. This initiative targets traditional leaders as crucial allies in the prevention of new HIV infections and addressing various social challenges. The workshop’s objective was to raise awareness, encourage positive traditional practices, and utilise culture as a means to foster social cohesion and promote positive behavioural change. SBC programmes are designed to cultivate favourable behavioural outcomes essential for mitigating the impact of the HIV pandemic.

Around 7.8 million individuals were projected to be living with HIV in South Africa in 2022, a slight decrease from 7.9 million in 2017. However, concerning trends have emerged, particularly regarding the significant increase in new infections among young people aged 15 to 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 let’s not ignore the sexually transmitted diseases and infections,” said Dr Bogopane-Zulu.

She also 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 and she implored the traditional leaders to educate community members on the dangers to 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 a community member who travels 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 culture as a vehicle for social cohesion and positive behaviour change.

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


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