Today, my colleague, DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Nomsa Marchesi MP, and I laid criminal charges against the South African Council for Educators (SACE) CEO, Ella Mokgalane, its Chairperson, Mabutho Cele, and other SACE board members who may have known about SACE’s failure to adequately vet teachers in terms of section 47 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act.
SACE is required by law to vet teachers against the Sexual Offenders Register before issuing licences, but have failed to do so for at least 10 years, potentially exposing many children to convicted sex pests.
This follows the admission by SACE, in a reply to a DA Parliamentary question, that they had not vetted teachers against the Sexual Offenders Register or Child Protection Register before issuing licences, as is required by Section 47 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act.
SACE has failed our children and, as Child Protection Week draws to a close, it is imperative that the teacher vetting body’s leadership is held accountable.
The Department of Basic Education (DBE) recently stated in a report that SACE did not, in fact, have to work through the DBE to gain access to the Register.
This does not absolve Minister Angie Motshekga from responsibility, as SACE is an entity of the DBE and her department should have ensured that they were not breaking the law.
Minister Motshekga should now prove that her department is committed to ensuring children are safe at schools and support the call the DA has repeatedly made for this through our #SafeSchools campaign.
We have also urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to end sexual and physical violence at schools through a collaborative effort by the national Police, Basic Education, Social Development and Justice Departments, together with provincial departments of education.
The DA trusts that the SAPS will investigate SACE’s failure to abide by the law. Those who have potentially put children at risk through this vetting failure must be accountable.
Our children cannot achieve their full potential when schools are unsafe. The government needs to take swift action to make sure our children are safe at school.