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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Sexual assaults and violence at South Africa’s schools

The 38-year-old teacher accused of raping a grade 10 pupil from Umqele Secondary School’s case has been remanded for 27 May for the bail application process.

Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) MEC Panyaza Lesufi said any educator or official who preys on learners has no place in the education system.

Lesufi said all educators and officials have a sacrosanct duty of ensuring learners placed in their care are safe and protected.

Lesufi said this at the Tembisa Magistrate court last Thursday where the teacher suspected of rape made his first court appearance.

“We will continue to support the victim and all affected by this alleged incident.

“We can only imagine the anger and disappointment the family of the learner is going through following the betrayal of their trust by a person they trusted,” said Lesufi.

Inside Education reported last week that the teacher went on the run for several days since the alleged incident occurred on the school property. The man only handed himself over to the police on Wednesday last week.

GDE Spokesperson Steve Mabona said the department can confirm the suspect tendered a letter of resignation which will undergo all the necessary departmental processes.

At the time, GDE said the man will also be charged with absconding as he had left work without permission.

Meanwhile the South African Human Rights Commission in Limpopo conducted a three-day provincial hearing into bullying, corporal punishment and sexual assault by educators in the province.

The hearings were held following the passing of teenage Lufuno Mavhunga who committed suicide after being bullied by another pupil.

During its three-day hearing in the province this week, the commission heard how incidents of bullying, sexual assault and heavy-handed educators were often swept under the carpet by teachers or other authorities.

According to the South African Council of Educators (SACE) representative, George Moroasui, South Africa recorded 209 cases of corporal punishment and 122 cases of sexual abuse of learners by teachers in 2019.

Moroasui said SACE still finds it difficult to get information from the Department of Education of teachers practicing corporal punishment and those who have previous cases of sexual relationships with learners against them.

Adding that at times school management and school governing bodies hide such cases instead of reporting them to the police.

South Africa Principals Association’s Mashudu Ramulumo reported at the hearings that many pupil-teacher sex cases not reported by principals.

Ramulumo said only those principals who were bold enough to implement policy are the ones who come forward and report.

“Yes, it is true. So many cases are not reported. Some principals do not have the right skills to compile a case to report to the department,” he said.

Mamahloli Masipa, the child protection manager at Save the Children SA added that corporal punishment continues to be used at these schools.

Masipa said her organisation works with a number of schools around Limpopo and they have discovered that principals choose to hide incidents of violence at their schools.

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