Zero tolerance on sexual assault cases at schools

The Gauteng Department of Education has announced it will not tolerate sexual assaults at schools.

The department’s spokesperson, Steve Mabona, said they strongly condemn any acts of sexual misconduct in schools and always encourage learners to report such incidents to the relevant authorities at schools.

“Such cases are reported to the department and upon receipt we always act immediately for appropriate action to be taken,” he said.

Mabona said sexual relations between educators and learners are forbidden, even if the learner/s consent(s) to sex, according to education legislation.

“Educators, learners and parents have a legal and ethical obligation to report such cases to the relevant authorities, for prompt action.”

“We always continue to call upon all educators to refrain from all types of misconduct. Educators should lead by example to ensure that learners mirror their conduct in creating a safe school environment, conducive for effective teaching and learning at all times,” he said.

Mabona said any transgressions will be investigated and the department will deal with the perpetrators in accordance with relevant prescripts.

He said currently there are 11 sexual assault cases and six disciplinary cases that have now been concluded.

Three educators were dismissed, one was found not guilty, a fifth is on two months’ suspension without salary and the sixth resigned.

“While the remaining five cases are currently being investigated and thus all implicated educators were removed from their respective schools, pending finalisation of their disciplinary proceedings,” Mabona said.

He said it must be noted that learners have access to psychological services provided by district-based support teams, which are linked with NGOs and other government departments to provide counselling services to abused learners.

Referrals are done to specialist organisations such as Teddy Bear Clinic, Childline, Kidz Clinic and Child Welfare.

MEC Panyaza Lesufi said sexual assaults will not be tolerated at schools and perpetrators are warned that they will always be dealt with harshly.

“It is our responsibility to protect our children, especially a girl child. I am comforted that out of all reported cases disciplinary steps were immediately taken and that all those found guilty were dismissed while those under investigation were removed from their respective schools pending the outcome of their disciplinary cases,” said Lesufi.

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Mbavhalelo Malofha

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