Sexual Offences At Schools

“The alleged gang rape at Jules High is a tragic example of government officials’ lack of knowledge of the 2007 Sexual Offences Act,” said organisations forming part of the Shukumisa campaign.

 “Neither the school, nor some of the journalists who initially covered the incident, appeared to be aware that section 54 of the Act obliges any person who has knowledge that a sexual offence has been committed against a child to report this to the police immediately.”  Instead of the school immediately reporting this
matter as they should have, the school’s receptionist showed the video clip to the victim’s sister and advised her to report the matter to the police.

The SAPS and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) should also have charged the individuals who distributed and viewed the video of the alleged gang rape at Jules High. “Section 19 of the 2007 Sexual Offences Act makes it an offence to display or expose others to child pornography. Given how frequently we are seeing such incidents being filmed and distributed via cellphones it is essential that action be taken immediately to indicate that this will not be tolerated,” said Lebo Marishane of Women’sNet.

“It is unsurprising that these lapses in the application of the Sexual Offences Act occurred,” said Lisa Vetten of the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre. “Government employees who deal with sexual offences have not been adequately trained around this Act.” She also pointed out that the 2007 Act is silent on the role of the Department of Education in addressing sexual offences. “Unlike the SAPS, the NPA and the Departments of Justice and Health, there is no obligation on the Department of Education to developpolicy and training in this area for their staff, or even to form part of government’s inter-sectoral committee on sexual offences. Given how much time children spend at school, this is a crucial oversight that we urge to Department of Justice to correct as the Department with ultimate responsibility for the Act.”

“We need a three-year action plan around the combating of sexual violence in schools to be developed as soon as possible. Right now we simply lurch from crisis to crisis, repeating the same mistakes,”  said Shaheda Omar of the Teddy Bear Clinic. Organisations called on the Department of Education and the Department of Justice to put in place a comprehensive training programme around the Sexual Offences Act for schools, school governing bodies and Department of Education officials. As the revelations emerging from Mondeor
High and the Western Cape show, the incident at Jules High is not the first of its kind and it certainly won’t be the last.

The Shukumisa Campaign was initiated by some 26 organisations nationally and aims to shake up the way South African society deals with sexual offences. Its members include the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre, the Teddy Bear Clinic, Women and Men Against Child Abuse (WMACA), OUT LGBT Well-being, the
Women’s sector and LGBTI sector of the South African National AIDS Council, Women’sNet, the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) and the Western Cape Network on Violence Against Women.

Contact Lisa Vetten 0828226725 for further information and referral to other

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