Limpopo health MEC Phophi Ramathuba has been criticised on social media after a video of her advising schoolgirls to “open your books and close your legs”.
Ramathuba visited Gwenane secondary school in Sekgakgapeng on Wednesday to monitor the first day of the new academic year.
During her visit, she told the pupils to focus on their studies and not on sexual activities, to reduce teenage pregnancy at schools.
“Some young people have contracted HIV/Aids because they are with older people, they want blessers. The smartphone and Brazilian hair they bought you doesn’t come for free, it comes with a disease. We should ban these Brazilian hair extensions in our schools,” said Ramathuba.
“To the girl child I say: Open your books, and close your legs. Don’t open your legs, open your books. Thank you very much!” she added.
A Stats SA report on teenage pregnancy revealed that 33,899 births registered in 2020 were to mothers aged 17 years and younger. More than 600 of the girls were aged between 10 and 13 years.
Figures for national deliveries in facilities by the Department of Health revealed that 132,612 girls aged 15 to 19 fell pregnant in 2020 and a further 35,209 between January and March 2021.
On social media, many slammed Ramathuba for giving “deeply problematic” advice, saying she should be telling “the boys to keep their zips closed”.
Ramathuba told TimesLIVE that her statement was taken out of context.
She said that her message was not only directed at schoolgirls but boys too.
“I told the boys to focus on their education and not sleep with girls,” she said
Ramathuba said her constituent appreciated the message she delivered.
“My constituent appreciated the message. They were even saying that they were afraid to say these things and thanked me for calling a spade a spade,” she said.
And the MEC is sticking to her statement, dismissing her critics as unrealistic.