Unsafe sex rife at matric parties, warn cops

Bowing their heads in prayer, from left, are Manenberg police chief Brigadier Sanele Zama, provincial junior commissioner Lwandile Zitha, Professor Cyril Louwskitt, and Colonel Taswell Paulse.

Matriculants should steer clear of binge drinking and unprotected sex as they celebrate the end of their exams, says Manenberg’s police chief Brigadier Sanele Zama.

Speaking at a SAPS World Aids Day awareness event at the Tambo Square Community Centre, on Friday December 1, Brigadier Zama said so-called “pens down” parties had become known as “pants down” parties where youngsters engaged in risky sexual behaviour that could lead to them contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

“I want to say to my future leaders, please abstain. Learn from us. But even if you are HIV-positive, know that it is not the end. There is medication available. In Manenberg, drugs are rife, and it is drugs and alcohol that alter the mind.”

About 100 people attended the event, including pupils from Manenberg and Gugulethu schools, neighbourhood watch members and residents.

Brigadier Zama told young people at the function that their circumstances need not dictate their future as he was one of six siblings raised by a widowed mother working as a domestic worker. He and all his siblings were now successful in their respective fields, he said.

At a weekend media briefing, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga also cautioned matriculants about the “pens down” parties.

As much as it was a time for celebrating, hundreds of children were “overindulging in alcohol and even finding themselves (in trouble) with the law”, she said.

Estwynn Malgas, from the Manenberg SAPS Youth Desk, spoke to the youth about his own promiscuous past and struggle with drug addiction.

“I am very grateful for this awareness programme as people die because of a lack of knowledge. I used to hate cops as I was a drug addict. Also, shortly after I became sexually active as a teenager, I contracted an STI because I was being irresponsible.

“I have since come to learn that there is no shame in going for help because not treating the illness could lead to much more serious consequences.

“My appeal to the youth, however, is to abstain from sex. That is the best protection against STIs, HIV and Aids.”

Reverend Monica Douglas described how she had been living with HIV for 19 years.

“Being a child of God and being HIV-positive has led me to become a mockery in the community,” she said. “The church can be very cruel sometimes. The church can oppress you. At one stage, I had full-blown Aids, and today I have undetected HIV. What kept me going is that I told myself it is not over until God says it’s over.”

Reverend Monica Douglas has been HIV-positive for 19 years.
Estwynn Malgas, from the Manenberg SAPS Youth Desk, encouraged the youth to make good choices for themselves.