Theron, who always insists on a no-media presence during her visits to the province with her Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project (CTAOP), again hid from cameras and declined requests for interviews.
She met with 150 pupils in Dimbaza for a surprise visit at the Moses Twebe Great Hall.
The event was also attended by excited pupils from Richard Vaga, Zukhanye and Kuyasa high schools.
Theron and her entourage were entertained by local performing groups before engaging in a wide-ranging dialogue that included topics such as HIV/Aids and drug abuse.
The CTAOP will include some of the inputs from Friday’s dialogue in its presentation to the 22nd International Aids Conference in Amsterdam next week.
Panel members told Theron rape remained one of the most problematic issues in the country.
“The way we grow up and how society sees young girls is always a concern to us all. We have a young person who was raped from when she was in primary school and she was only able to stand up for herself when she was in Grade 12. Her father was arrested and is now sentenced. So through this support and programmes she was able to stand up for herself,” said one speaker who did not identify herself.
A member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community said they were still marginalised.
“There is still a high level of ignorance in our society. In SA we also have a problem of transactional sex where young girls sleep with older men in return for financial gain.
“We want to use music, art and dance to try and tap into the young people’s mind-sets,” she said.
At the end of the dialogue, Theron told the audience she had been inspired by the personal stories shared.
“Thank you so much for having us here today, for trusting and sharing with us your stories. We change ourselves, we cannot make it on our own and that’s powerful to be able to be there for each other,” she said.
An emotional Theron hugged a number of young women and told them: “Thank you for being African, loving and supporting each other. I really learnt so much today.”
The A Million Ways to Die in the West actress added: “We are so grateful that we could contribute in a small way, and as much as you guys are grateful to us, we are grateful to you, you have told us so many stories that have inspired us. Thank you for being so wise and brave in the circumstances you live under and remain a shining light in your community.”
Event organiser Lisa Silwana said Theron was drawn to her Help a Student Programme after seeing the work they do on social media.
“We do HIV and gender-based awareness campaigns on social networks and Charlize saw these and wanted to come all the way from the US to have a conversation with us about some of the challenges we have in our communities,” Silwana said.