The Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoH) is engaging with magosi to find ways to accommodate the public at dikgotla that are functioning as vaccination sites.
This follows incidents in which some women were turned away from some dikgotla after they turned up for jabs wearing pants.
The ministry’s Chief Public Relations Officer, Dr. Christopher Nyanga, says while some magosi have relaxed the dress code that bars wearing to enter dikgotla wearing pants, it may be difficult to get the rest to do so.
“We have asked for accommodation at dikgotla for use as vaccination posts because they are public spaces,” Dr Nyanga said. “But it is important to note that there are some instances where the kgosi, as the head of the kgotla, may insist on enforcing the rules. We are currently engaged in talks with magosi.”
He said the only practical solution in the meantime would be for women wearing pants to avoid going to dikgotla for vaccination.
Members of the public have expressed mixed reactions to the unwritten code that proscribes the wearing of pants by women entering dikgotla. Following reports that some women have been turned away when they went to get their jabs against COVID-19, public opinion on the matter is divided. Some believe that in the middle of a health crisis priority should be on combating the scourge and not traditional rules while others see it the other way round.
One social media user who witnessed this incident at Mogoditshane lambasted government for failing to keep its promise to allow women to wear what they want. “All 3 ladies doing vaccine registration are wearing pants in the kgotla, but women seeking vaccinating wearing pants are being returned to go dress properly? What logic is this?” she queried.
Earlier reports suggest that the Mogoditshane incident was a repeat of what happened in Tlokweng previously, whereupon government then said for vaccination purposes, women should be allowed to don pants.
In an interview, one member of the public said: “For particular purposes of this activity, it is a vaccination site first, a kgotla second. Do not restrict access through imposition of silly rules because right now success hinges on timely access.”
Another said to avoid being turned away, women should simply avoid a kgotla, adding: “Tota mme gone why go ko dikgotleng tsa batho lo apere marokgwe knowing full well that, that is the rule? Rather check other vaccination sites instead. Simple.”
Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Eric Molale, whose ministry oversees local authorities told the Gazette that the debate ought to involve chiefs’s input. “It is an unwritten traditional rule therefore the prerogative lies with dikgosi. If anybody has any issues or concerns they are allowed to take it up with the chiefs, ba itshekele.”