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UN official cancels visit to South Africa after delays

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The United Nations’ special rapporteur on violence against women on Monday canceled an official visit to South Africa saying the government delayed and ignored requests.

Rashida Manjoo has been trying to set up a visit to the country since 2012, her office said in a statement. Manjoo was finally able to secure a formal invitation for a visit earlier this year, but President Jacob Zuma’s government then postponed her trip and failed to confirm a new schedule, despite repeated requests, said the statement.

Manjoo is a South African national who has worked at the country’s Commission on Gender Equality. In her capacity as special rapporteur, she was meant to lead a fact-finding mission to investigate violence against women in South Africa, which has high rates of domestic violence and sexual assault.

The special rapporteur would have met with survivors, civil society groups as well as government officials, her spokeswoman, Nathalie Stadelmann, said. Manjoo ends her second three-year term as special rapporteur at the end of July, and she said she hoped her replacement would continue discussions with South Africa.

Manjoo’s predecessor, Yakin Erturk, also failed to secure a visit to the country, said Stadelmann.

The South African Women’s Ministry did not immediately comment. The Department of International Relations and Cooperation knew nothing of the planned visit, said spokesman Clayson Monyela. Acting spokeswoman for the cabinet, Phumla Williams, also said she was not aware of the special rapporteur’s visit.

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