Anger at ‘inaction’ on school sex abuse
AS the country observes Women’s Month, the Gauteng Education Department has been accused of not prioritising cases of sexual abuse by teachers against pupils.
In answers recently in the provincial legislature, Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said currently 14 teachers were facing disciplinary action for sexual misconduct.
Lesufi said only three teachers had been accused of sexual assault in the province but no action against them had been taken yet.
In his responses, Lesufi said appropriate sanctions were still being determined for the three. The other 11 were facing disciplinary action while still serving in their positions.
Yesterday, department spokesperson Steve Mabona said according to their records, three teachers had been dismissed, one was found not guilty, one was on a two-month suspension without pay and another had resigned.
“While the remaining five are currently being investigated, as such, implicated educators are on precautionary transfer to the districts to render a service while they continue being remunerated, pending the finalisation of disciplinary proceedings,” Mabona said.
Wessel van den Berg, children’s rights and positive parenting unit manager at Sonke Gender Justice, said removing the teachers from the school environment was important.
“Children should not be exposed to their alleged abusers. They are more vulnerable and should be protected even when we navigate within the concept of people being not guilty until proven otherwise.”
DA education spokesperson Khume Ramulifho accused the department of not doing enough to fast-track cases of abuse. “The Gauteng Education Department has not taken strong action nor expedited the process of disciplinary hearings for sexual assault offences.
“The DA is of the view that cases of such a nature should be swiftly resolved and addressed with seriousness. We cannot have alleged perpetrators remain in the system due to lack of prioritisation of sexual assault cases,” he said.