Paedo teacher found dead in po­lice cells

More vic­tims iden­ti­fied, fur­ther charges loomed

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - FA­TIMA SCHROEDER

CON­VICTED pae­dophile Brian Shofer, who was ar­rested and charged with child rape this week fol­low­ing a Week­end Ar­gus ex­posé, was found hanged in the Len­tegeur Po­lice Sta­tion hold­ing cells as in­ves­ti­ga­tors pre­pared to add more sex of­fence charges.

Shofer ap­par­ently tore a piece off the blan­ket pro­vided, and used it to hang him­self.

He had been in cus­tody since Mon­day.

Aside from the child rape case against him, which was reg­is­tered in Mitchells Plain, Week­end Ar­gus has re­li­ably learnt more vic­tims had come for­ward and po­lice were in the process of reg­is­ter­ing the fol­low­ing charges:

A sex­ual as­sault and a rape case in Steen­berg.

A sex­ual as­sault case in Mitchells Plain.

A sex­ual as­sault case in Hanover Park.

Po­lice were also fol­low­ing up leads that Shofer had sex­u­ally abused street children in Strand, where he used to live.

He was to have ap­peared again in the Mitchells Plain Mag­is­trate’s Court on Thurs­day.

Po­lice spokesman Lieu­tenant Colonel An­dre Traut con­firmed Shofer died in the po­lice sta­tion’s hold­ing cells.

Since Shofer was in po­lice cus­tody at the time, his death is the sub­ject of an In­de­pen­dent Po­lice In­ves­tiga­tive Di­rec­torate ( Ipid) in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Ipid spokesman Rob­bie Raburabu con­firmed this, say­ing a post­mortem would be con­ducted at the govern­ment mor­tu­ary.

He said Shofer was found dead around lunch time yes­ter­day.

Shofer was ar­rested on Mon­day, the day af­ter Week­end Ar­gus broke the news that he had placed an ad­ver­tise­ment on Gumtree of­fer­ing pri­vate tu­tor­ing to children in all grades.

He ad­mit­ted to Week­end Ar­gus he tu­tored children from grades 2 to 11, but claimed he was fully re­ha­bil­i­tated and had re­ceived the best treat­ment in prison.

He at­tempted to bar­gain with Week­end Ar­gus, of­fer­ing to stop teach­ing children if pub­li­ca­tion was halted and, when his of­fer was re­fused, threat­ened le­gal ac­tion.

How­ever, once he was ex­posed, an 18-year-old vic­tim came for­ward.

Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Prose­cut­ing Au­thor­ity’s Western Cape spokesman, Eric Ntabazalila, the teen was raped for six years, from the age of 12.

Shofer was re­leased from prison six years ago.

This week the provin­cial Ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment con­firmed Shofer had been em­ployed at Lourier Pri­mary School in Re­treat from April to June, de­spite his his­tory of pae­dophilia. He was ap­pointed by the school’s gov­ern­ing body, and not the depart­ment.

Depart­ment spokes­woman Mil­li­cent Mer­ton said de­tails of teach­ers found guilty of sex­ual abuse were recorded on the govern­ment’s em­ployee records sys­tem, Per­sal, which was checked be­fore ap­point­ments are made.

All such cases are also re­ported to the South African Coun­cil of Ed­u­ca­tors (SACE).

“The Western Cape Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment views any al­le­ga­tion of sex­ual abuse in an ex­tremely se­ri­ous light, and gives top pri­or­ity to in­ves­ti­gat­ing th­ese cases,” Mer­ton added.

Paul Colditz, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Fed­er­a­tion of School Gov­ern­ing Bod­ies (Fed­sas), said gov­ern­ing bod­ies had an obli­ga­tion to scru­ti­nise peo­ple be­fore ap­point­ing them.

They could ap­proach the po­lice and the Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment when vet­ting peo­ple they in­tended to ap­point.

The South African Schools Act was also clear ed­u­ca­tors must be reg­is­tered with the SACE be­fore they could be for­mally em­ployed, he said.

SACE spokesman Them­binkosi Ndhlovu said Shofer only had a Per­son­nel Ad­min­is­tra­tion Mea­sures num­ber, which meant his de­tails were on the sys­tem, but he had not taken not take any steps to for­mally reg­is­ter as an ed­u­ca­tor.

The gov­ern­ing body of Lourier Pri­mary School did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

Mean­while, Gumtree South Africa’s mod­er­a­tors ear­lier this week re­moved Shofer’s tu­tor­ing ad­ver­tise­ment and blocked him to pre­vent any fur­ther list­ings.

Head of mar­ket­ing Claire Cob­bledick said the com­pany had given the provin­cial So­cial De­vel­op­ment depart­ment, which has of­fered coun­selling and sup­port to vic­tims, ac­cess to in­ter­nal re­sources.

Cob­bledick urged con­cerned mem­bers of the com­mu­nity to con­tact help.gumtree.co.za.

So­cial De­vel­op­ment Depart­ment spokes­woman Esther Lewis con­firmed they were work­ing with Gumtree.

Justice spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said the Crim­i­nal Law (Sex­ual Of­fences and Re­lated Mat­ters) Amend­ment Act placed an obli­ga­tion on em­ploy­ers, “in this in­stance the par­ents”, to check whether some­one al­lowed to tu­tor or work with their children was a reg­is­tered sex of­fender.”.

Shofer was jailed pre­vi­ously for the sex­ual as­sault of boys aged between seven and 14, with con­vic­tions dat­ing back to 1994.

Af­ter he was re­leased on pa­role he set up a youth cen­tre in Hanover Park, where he at­tracted more vic­tims.

He was put back be­hind bars again, be­fore be­ing re­leased in 2010. fa­tima.schroeder@inl.co.za

PIC­TURE: BREN­DAN MAGAAR

TOP: Pae­dophile Brian Shofer, who ap­par­ently com­mit­ted sui­cide in the hold­ing cells yes­ter­day, at the Mitchells Plain Mag­is­trate’s Court on Wed­nes­day.

LEFT: Week­end Ar­gus broke the Brian Shofer story on Sun­day, prompt­ing charges that led to his ar­rest. He re­port­edly com­mit­ted sui­cide yes­ter­day as fur­ther charges against him were be­ing for­mu­lated.

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