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Section27 to take DBE and SAPS to court over ‘failure’ to deal with sexual abuse of learners

Section27, a civil rights group, is taking legal action against education and police authorities over a lack of action. A school caretaker allegedly implicated in two incidents of sexual assault but continues to work at the school.

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Social justice group Section27 announced that they are taking legal action against the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and the South African Police Service (SAPS) over their “collective failure” to deal with the sexual abuse and harassment of two young children.

One of the children was allegedly raped in 2015 and the other was sexually assaulted in 2017 by a caretaker at a primary school in the North West.

SECTION27 TO TAKE COURT ACTION

Section27 said it has launched court action against the principal of the school and its governing body because the caretaker has been allowed to continue working at the school despite the allegations of sexual abuse.

“The Department of Basic Education, the head of the North West provincial education department, the MEC for Sports and Education Development, the Minister of Police and the Civilian Secretariat For The Police Service are named as respondents in the case for their role as authorities who should have taken action against the accused perpetrator but collectively, failed to act efficiently and effectively to defend the rights of the children concerned,” said Section27 spokesperson Bouitumelo Masipa.

RAPE AND SEXUAL HARRASSMENT INCIDENTS

According to the advocacy group, the caretaker allegedly raped a minor girl child in 2015. The child’s parents reportedly attempted to report the incident to the school principal, the district education office and the local police station but no action was taken against the caretaker by any of the parties.

Section27 says the caretaker continued to work at the school and torment the girl and her parents.

“In 2016, the female minor and her younger sibling were visiting their paternal grandmother, and the caretaker was present at the house.

“It is alleged that the caretaker accosted the female minor’s sister by foundling her buttocks. He then gave her R5 and told her not to speak of the incident,” said Masipa.

Section27 attorney Zeenat Sujee said it is “deeply concerning” that an alleged sexual assault perpetrator continues to work at a school and has access to children.

“Despite authorities, both policing and education, being made aware of the sexual misconducts of the caretaker and the reported incidents, still no action has been taken against the caretaker for his repeated heinous acts of sexual abuse of minors,” said Sujee.

SECTION27 HOPES COURT WILL DEAL WITH CARETAKER

The advocacy group hopes that the court’s intervention will compel education and law enforcement authorities to comply with their obligations to investigate incidents of sexual abuse and act decisively against the accused caretaker.

Section27 said the authorities have a responsibility to protect the rights of children from sexual abuse and claimed that they have failed to do so in these incidents and are therefore they are complicit in perpetuating gender-based violence in South Africa.

“The sexual assault of the minor’s younger sister might have been prevented had authorities taken their statutory and constitutional obligations seriously to act in the best interest of children,” said Masipa.