19 October 2017

South Africa: 'Perturbed and Angry' Makhura Appoints Team to Tackle School Sex Assault

Gauteng Premier David Makhura has appointed a Special Committee of the Executive Council aimed at improving school safety, educating learners and empowering them to break the silence on sexual abuse and assault.

The committee includes provincial Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi, Community Safety MEC Sizakhele Nkosi-Malobane and Social Development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza.

Over the next few weeks, the committee is expected to work with schools, police, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to strengthen safety measures, not only in schools, but also in homes.

'A scourge based on patriarchy'

"Gender-based violence and crimes against women is a societal scourge based on patriarchy. It can only be eradicated through a comprehensive partnership between law enforcement agencies, communities and other decision-makers in society...," Makhura said.

Speaking at the Gauteng legislature in Johannesburg on Thursday, Makhura said the establishment of the committee was a response to the spate of reports of sexual assault and abuse at schools in Gauteng.

One of the more recent cases involve a security guard who allegedly sexually assaulted up to 87 girls, in Grades R to 7, at a primary school in Soweto, Johannesburg.

He was arrested on October 9.

The elderly man appeared in the Protea North Magistrate's Court in Soweto on Wednesday.

He has not yet applied for bail and is to appear in court again on October 25.

Lesufi said that the premier has given them 30 days to repeat vetting of patrollers at schools, and to ensure that principals are equipped with the correct information so that they know how to deal with cases of sexual assault and harassment at schools.

"We have 6 000 patrollers registered in our database. On Sunday they must attend a public meeting where they will be addressed by MEC Lesufi and myself," said Nkosi-Malobane.

Earlier, the Democratic Alliance (DA) demanded that the government establishes a commission of inquiry into the increase in sexual abuse at schools - something which Makhura said was not an answer to crimes of such a nature.

"What the victims of these horrific crimes say is that they need justice, not one commission of inquiry after another," he said.

Makhura says there was a need to partner up with civil society and various stakeholders to tackle what he calls a scourge.

He emphasised that the problem of gender-based violence had reached a crisis and added that there was a need to look beyond the classroom because incidents happen at home and in the workplace.

Makhura said they were "perturbed and angered" by crimes committed against children.

He said 200 cars would be handed over to the police, 75 to traffic officers, and 60 bikes to the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit (FCS) in the fight against gender-based violence. There are also 91 dedicated forensic social workers - up from four in 2013 - to follow up on cases.

Source: News24

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