#GPSchoolsAbuse: Protecting victims of sexual abuse goes beyond the classroom

This press statement follows the oral question session to the Gauteng Premier in the Provincial Legislature today.

There is no simple and seemingly magical solution for dealing with rampant sexual abuse in Gauteng’s schools. Gauteng Premier David Makhura’s narrow solution to the problem, namely better vetting of patrollers, is a shame.

Protecting our learners go beyond the hours of the classroom. School learners, such as the 14-year-old girl who opened a case against Emfuleni Mayor, Simon Mofokeng, for sexual grooming and taking out a protection order against him, must also receive assistance from the government.

The Premier firmly believes in repackaging an archaic concept in dealing with sexual abuse, molestation and gender-based violence in the province and that this approach will miraculously see justice for victims and put perpetrators behind bars.

The DA’s call for the Premier to appoint a commission of inquiry is to strengthen government action and is but one part of a multi-pronged approach. The Premier must be reminded that it took a commission of inquiry to fully uncover the horrors of Life Esidimeni.

By quoting outdated statistics to show how his administration was tackling gender-based violence, yet refusing to remove Mayor Simon Mofokeng on the basis of damning allegations of sexual grooming, is telling.

The DA’s protest outside the Premier’s office to deliver a memorandum last week, must’ve struck the right chord, as the DA’s requests were adopted by the Premier.

In addition to our call for the appointment of a commission of inquiry, we suggested to the Premier that he implement the following:

  • Create a free, confidential web-based or toll free platform in which learners can report sexual abuse cases and any other forms of abuse at schools in the province;
    • Ensure that learners are made aware of their rights and the processes to follow should they fall victim to sexual abuse;
    • Link each school in the province to a South African Police Service (SAPS) officer with specialized family violence, child protection and sexual offences investigative skills; and
    • Ensure government increases the number of Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FSC) units currently available within the SAP as this will ensure that the areas of operation for these units are reduced in size, with a more local focus when solving cases related to sexual assaults. Government must start now with capacitating these units in the SAPS.

The provincial government has the responsibility to ensure that schools are a safe learning environment for our children. Gauteng’s children deserve a new beginning.