Namibia: 'Zero Tolerance' for School Sex Offences

23 February 2021

The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture has zero tolerance for teachers or staff members accused of sexual offences against pupils, said executive director Sanet Steenkamp.

She said this at a time student organisations have accused the ministry of neglecting its duty to protect pupils from sexual predators.

"I want to state it that the ministry upon receiving any instances or reports against a staff member in the ministry, especially teachers, we act immediately and there is zero tolerance towards that," she said.

Steenkamp recently told The Namibian that only three cases involving teachers who have been accused of sexual misconduct are pending.

"So far we have had 31 teachers who have been accused of sexual offences in the last five years since 2016, of which 29 are men and two women. So far, 14 teachers have resigned pending disciplinary hearings and nine have been let go after proceedings concluded while three cases are pending," Steenkamp said.

One of the pending cases is that of former mathematics teacher, Ariestides Kamatuka (53), who was arrested for allegedly raping two pupils at Jan Möhr in Windhoek recently.

He appeared in court and his case was postponed to 5 March to allow for further police investigations and to give him time to get legal representation. He was remanded in custody.

His arrest led to the Namibia National Student Organisation (Nanso) writing a letter to the ministry through their lawyer Kadhila Amoomo, demanding the suspension of teachers engaged in sexual and gender-based violence acts, including impregnating teenage girls.

Steenkamp says the ministry has met all the Nanso demands and is busy conducting its investigation into the Jan Möhr case.

"All the demands by Nanso have been met and in the case of the Jan Möhr teacher, is still being investigated," she said.

However, Nanso spokesperson Dylan Mukuroli told The Namibian the ministry had asked for an extension to meet their demands as they are still consulting the Office of the Attorney General. The student organisation said the ministry grossly neglected its duty to create a safe environment for pupils by taking stern action against those accused of sexual misconduct and gender-based violence.

Nanso also demanded counselling for the pupils who have been affected by sexual misconduct and the deployment of the Gender-based Violence Protection Unit and social workers to Jan Möhr School and all other schools where such allegations were reported.

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