Paedo teacher found dead in police cells
More victims identified, further charges loomed
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. email@example.com
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.