The Gauteng education department apologized to Premier Panyaza Lesufi on Wednesday for what it described as a misunderstanding at the opening of a new school in Ga-Rankuwa, north of Tshwane.
On social media, an image of Lesufi with girls carrying “dignity packs” sparked outrage.
ActionSA president Herman Mashaba described it as a botched public relations stunt. “The dignity of our young woman compromised, used as a PR exercise by a shameless politician,” Mashaba said.
PR exercise gone completely wrong. The Dignity of our young woman compromised, used as a PR exercise by a shameless politician. I hope @Lesufi will one day apologise to these woman. https://t.co/Ees455PqND
— Herman Mashaba (@HermanMashaba) January 14, 2023
While former radio presenter and journalist Redi Tlhabi called it shameless. “A complete violation and intrusion. Do you know how awkward it is for teenage girls to have a period? What a confusing, emotional time it can be?
“Did @Lesufi and officials ask these children if this is how they wish to be paraded? Your obsession with PR is revolting.”
Shameless. A complete violation and intrusion. Do you know how awkward it is for teenage girls to have a period? What a confusing, emotional time in can be? Did @Lesufi & officials ask these children if this is how they wish to be paraded? Your obsession with PR is revolting https://t.co/iEer4kGXVV
— Redi Tlhabi (@RediTlhabi) January 13, 2023
The department said there was an unfortunate perception that the girl pupils were being paraded while receiving “dignity packs”.
It stated that during the launch of Mapenane Secondary School, the female learners seen on stage with the premier were not the recipients, but rather representatives of students who would receive and benefit from these dignity packs.
“When the premier was invited to the event, the handing over of dignity packs was not on the programme, therefore the premier was not scheduled to participate in the handover of said dignity packs.
“We apologise for the misconception that this gesture caused,” department spokesperson Steve Mabona said.
The dignity pack that are handed out consists of the following: Sanitary towels with wings and available in the market (10 sanitary towels), Deodorant roll-on 80ml, bath soap 100g, body lotion 150ml, toilet paper roll 400 -500 sheets (1 ply virgin paper), toothpaste 100ml