Mercy Ruvarashe Munhenga, 30, was arraigned before magistrate Donald Ndirowei facing charges of procuring with the intent of engaging in sexual intercourse and assault before she was remanded out of custody on free bail.

Sexual abuse cases on the rise in SA schools

MORE than 452 cases of sexual misconduct have been reported to the South Africa Council for Educators (SACE) over the past three years.

Basic Education minister Angie Motshekga revealed the stats in a parliamentary response, indicating that these cases were on the rise. The past financial year saw 191 cases being recorded.

This was an increase of 22 cases compared to those recorded in the previous year when 169 cases were reported. She said there were 92 cases reported in 2019/2020. DA’s Desiree van der Walt said 294 rapes were reported to have occurred on the premises of educational institutions (schools, universities, college and day care facilities).

“The DA finds it very concerning that SACE only instituted 23 disciplinary proceedings last year — a mere 12% of the reported cases of sexual misconduct. Of these, 19 educators were found guilty of sexual misconduct, yet only four were struck off the roll indefinitely.

“SACE indicated that some cases were closed due to lack of evidence to substantiate the allegations, deliberate unavailability of complainants to assist with the investigation/ disciplinary proceedings, and witnesses refusing to co-operate with the council,” she said.

“The complainants’ reluctance to co-operate with SACE in investigating and disciplining their alleged abusers indicates a perceived bias against the victims of abuse. SACE must take responsibility for this perception and ensure that disciplinary hearings are environments where alleged victims and witnesses feel safe, are protected from further trauma, and where evidence and testimony from both parties are examined in an objective and sensitive manner.”

She said SACE should take appropriate steps to better categorise cases to ensure effective oversight of processes and procedures. “Without a thorough analysis of data, no institution can critically assess its effectiveness.

In a country where sexual crimes are ever on the rise, schools must be safe havens where learners, educators and staff should only focus on quality education. “In holding abusers to account, SACE plays a crucial role in creating a safe environment. The council must ensure that victims of sexual abuse are protected when reporting these crimes and that guilty abusers suffer the consequences for their heinous actions,” Van der Walt said. — SowetanLIVE

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