Anger at ‘in­ac­tion’ on school sex abuse

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - TEBOGO MONAMA

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.

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