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DSD holds Roundtable on Albinism Rights

30 October 2018

L-R Sanele Xaba(Model), Nomasonto Mazibuko (Founder of Albinism Society of South Africa), Thando Hopa(Lawyer and Model) and Gaddafi the Poet.

The Department of Social Development (DSD) held a roundtable meeting to develop an Integrated plan to protect, promote and uphold the rights of persons with albinism in Pretoria during the Albinism Month of September.

The two day roundtable, chaired by the Deputy Minister of Social Development, Ms Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, saw the gathering of different government representatives, human rights organisations, Chapter 9 Institutions, research institutions and organisations of persons with albinism including activists.

The discussions focused on sharing and documenting current advocacy initiatives, supporting and protecting initiatives by both government and civil society, tracking progress with implementation of the resolutions taken by the 2013 National Conference on the Rights of Persons with Albinism, identifying and engaging on current challenges facing the albinism civil society sector and establishing a task team that will develop a draft National Strategy to Promote the Rights of Persons with Albinism in South Africa amongst other issues.

Submissions were made by different individuals and organisations for persons with albinism with regards to societal depiction, representation and raising awareness.

“The media tend to write and depict us from their own narrative without consulting us as persons with albinism,” lamented international model, Thando Hopa. “We should be involved in the storytelling or narratives about us throughout all consultation processes so that we do not live up to societal expectations but we show society the reality of living the experiences as persons with albinism.”

Thando was lamenting the recent depiction of albinism killings on the SABC1 TV Drama series, Uzalo, which incorporated a storyline of a father and daughter with albinism fleeing their home village because of a million rand bounty that had been placed on the daughter’s head as part of a human trafficking syndicate that targeted people with albinism.

“The stories and depictions of persons with albinism in media platforms is important for awareness but should lead from the front through engagement and involvement of persons with albinism themselves,” added Thando.

South Africa has recently seen an upsurge in reported cases of killings; attempted abductions; and desecration of graves of persons with albinism. This has resulted in a sharp increase in local, provincial and national awareness campaigns and advocacy aimed at protecting and upholding the rights of persons with albinism.

To promote the rights of persons with disabilities who are at risk of compounded marginalisation, the Department is responsible for coordination of national strategies as the National Coordinating Mechanism on Disability in government.

After an intensive two days of deliberation, a consensus was reached that a further consultative process should be put in place that will see a Working Group established representative of albinism structures from all provinces as well as key individual activists, government and Chapter 9 institutions that will determine the objectives of the proposed 2019 conference as well as the modalities of the drafting of the National Strategy to Promote the rights of Persons with Albinism in South Africa. The Department of Social Development was tasked with facilitating and coordinating this consultative which should be completed before the end of this year.

At the end of the roundtable the department committed to put mechanism in place to report to sector on yearly basis its work on albinism, compile a draft Framework for a National Strategy on Advancing the Rights of Persons with Albinism in South Africa, and set milestones and targets that will go hand in hand with the National Strategy that will be developed by the sector in 2019.

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