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Sexual offences in education ‘a concern’

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The Northern Cape Department of Education needs to urgently intervene and root out sexual misconduct of teachers accused of such incidents, the leader of Build One South Africa (Bosa), Mmusi Maimane, said during a picket at the department’s provincial offices.

Build One South Africa (Bosa) leader, Mmusi Maimane speaks to supporters outside the Northern Cape Department of Education offices in Kimberley. Picture: Soraya Crowie

The Northern Cape Department of Education needs to urgently intervene and root out sexual misconduct of teachers accused of such incidents, the leader of Build One South Africa (Bosa), Mmusi Maimane, said during a picket at the department’s provincial offices.

Mainame and local party supporters handed over a memorandum at the department earlier this week.

In the memorandum the party state that to date at least 15 girls have reported acts of sexual violence committed by teachers and principals in the Province.

The memorandum further stated that there were 30 reported cases of young girls who were impregnated by teachers and principals in the Northern Cape.

Maimane accused the department of turning a blind eye to these incidents and even harbouring the alleged perpetrators implicated in such acts.

He said that there is a child sexual abuse epidemic in the Province which must be eradicated.

“The education system in this country must make it possible for young people to be educated and put a job in every home. There are a number of teachers who face serious allegations of sexual assault against our children.

“I am a father . . . I send my children to school and expect the educators to protect them, and not impregnate them. For a department of education to be aware of these allegations, to hide reports, to promote and move teachers who are predators to various schools, is a secondary offence.

“I have given the department seven days and demand answers in this regard or we will take legal action. This issue requires that we reform the entire department across the country. We are fighting for security measures so that our children do not go to school with school bags and return in body bags,” Mainane said.

Maimane said corruption has proven to be a great contributor to the problems faced at schools.

“There is the ‘Jobs for Cash Report’ where principals are appointed to work for unions and not for the schools. The success of a school depends on the principal. The first person who should be concerned and fighting sexual offences in schools should be the principal.

Maimane added that social challenges, such as unemployment, needed to be addressed urgently.

“Gender-based violence is mostly perpetrated by men. We need to ensure that our homes are safe havens. That is why not having an income in a household increases the stress in that home and often results in violence. When you combine alcohol with that problem, it becomes even worse.”

The provincial Department of Education refuted Maimane’s claims in the memorandum.

Spokesperson for the department, Geoffrey van der Merwe, said this was a ploy by Maimane to gain votes for the upcoming election.

“The Northern Cape Department of Education is deeply concerned about the conduct of Bosa, led by Mmusi Maimane. They have intruded our premises, without notice and handed over a memorandum containing serious allegations, which are already being attended to by the department.

“It is a pity that some political parties now want to gain political mileage or make them relevant to society, whilst the allegations are very serious and affect the lives of ordinary people. Although our country is in the period of campaigning for the upcoming elections, these matters must be treated with the utmost respect, dignity and sensitivity.

“This is not the first time a political party approached our offices with the same issues. It is obvious that these parties seek relevance in our communities in order to gain electorate support.

“We urge political parties to desist from similar actions now and in the future, as this does not only aggravates the situation, but has the potential for all affected individuals to relive their pain and trauma.

“The safety and well-being of our employees is our first priority and therefore these cases that have been reported, whether in the department or at schools, and are being dealt with either internally or externally,” Van der Merwe said.

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