The Portfolio Committee on Social Development is concerned about the alleged treatment of disabled children and handling of rape cases involving teachers in the area of Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga.
The committee heard that it was common in the Bushbuckridge area for parents to hide disabled children in backrooms and do not let them go to schools. Furthermore, the committee heard that the alleged perpetrators for rape who are teachers, are defended by their labour unions.
"Teacher unions can never be justified in defending alleged rapists in schools, if there are cases of such need to be reported to the police. We also learn that some educators are protected by management due to the importance of learning areas they teach. The committee appealed to community members that they need to be vigilant when it comes to issues and safety of children at schools.," the Acting Chairperson of the committee, Ms Nkhensani Bilankulu said.
She added that as second homes of our children, "schools should be the safest places for our children and that in cases where rapes have occurred, the educators' code of conduct need to prevail with proper follow up of such incidents by all stakeholders, the South African Police Service, school management, School Governing Bodies and teacher unions".
Ms Bilankulu called on community members and all stakeholders not to wait for Parliament to come in order to raise issues or to seek intervention. The Bill is intended to improve the services for children and ensure that their welfare is taken care of adequately.
Ms Bilankulu told the residents at the end of the Bushbuckridge hearings that all the issues raised with the committee will be referred to the relevant government departments in order to be attended to urgently. The Department of Home Affairs promised to send its mobile truck next Tuesday, 15 June 2021, to Bushbuckridge to assist in particular learners that are in grade 12 to apply for smart cards.
The committee has concluded the Mpumalanga leg of public hearings on the Children's Amendment Bill in Bushbuckridge on Friday.