Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi has made a plea to law enforcement agencies to up the efforts in hunting a teacher who allegedly raped a learner at Umqhele Secondary School in Ivory Park.
The alleged rapist has since been on the run since the incident was reported to the District.
Lesufi said Gauteng Education became aware of the alleged rape of a Grade 10 learner when the matter was last Friday.
“We will immediately report him [the teacher] to all regulatory bodies and add the charge of absconding as well. And, as a precaution, that teacher will not report at school but at the District,” said Lesufi.
The MEC said The Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) will not tolerate nor condone any sexual relations or harassment of learners by educators and any of our officials.
“We will never allow officials or educators to abuse the privilege given to us by millions of parents across the province of providing care to all young people in our education system,” said Lesufi.
It is alleged that the suspect was caught in the act by another teacher.
The learner was taken by the school principal to the doctor for medical examination on Friday.
Reports state that the learner’s parents have opened a case at the Ivory Park Police Station. The suspect has not reported for duty since the day of the incident and police are looking for him.
According to the Human Rights Watch, research done on schools across South Africa show how thousands of girls of every race and economic group are encountering sexual violence and harassment that impede their access to education .
Girls are learning that sexual violence and abuse are an inescapable part of going to school every day — so they don’t go,” said Erika George, counsel to the Academic Freedom Program at Human Rights Watch and the author of the report. “South African officials say they’re committed to educational equality. If they mean it, they must address the problem of sexual violence in schools, without delay.”
The 138-page report, “Scared at School: Sexual Violence Against Girls in South African Schools,” is based on extensive interviews with victims, their parents, teachers, and school administrators in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, and the Western Cape. It documents how girls are raped, sexually abused, sexually harassed, and assaulted at school by their male classmates and even by their teachers.
According to the report, girls have been attacked in school toilet facilities, in empty classrooms and corridors, hostel rooms and dormitories. Teachers can misuse their authority to sexually abuse girls, sometimes reinforcing sexual demands with threats of corporal punishment or promises of better grades, or even money.
School authorities rarely challenge the perpetrators, and many girls interrupt their education or leave school altogether because they feel vulnerable to sexual assault, Human Rights Watch said.
According to media reports, learners at Umqhele Secondary School did not attend classes on Friday.
They held a protest with members of the community, COSAS, EFF, ANC and members from Break the Chain of Pain Against Women and Childern.
Members of COSAS also went to neighbouring schools asking that classes stop and the schools join in protest.
Lesufi said while he and his department appreciates the anger of young people in and around Ivory Park, “We call on the learners to put their faith in the justice system and desist from further disrupting schooling as the matter is being investigated”.
GDE spokesperson Steve Mabona said the department has availed their Psycho-Social Unit to provide support to the affected learner and those at the school.