While Gauteng schools have come under fire in the past few months following incidents of violence, some of which were fatal, the department says that cases of sexual violence on school premises has declined.
This is according to Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi who said the department was sitting with fewer than 70 reported cases of sexual violence in the province’s schools at the moment.
“The cases that we have are indeed worrying. Since the beginning of this year, I don’t think we have got more than 70 cases. We have 2.3 million learners and majority are well behaved. It is unfortunate that they have to be brushed with one brush as learners not behaving,” he said.
Lesufi was speaking at Thuto Lesedi Secondary School in Vosloorus where a 16-year-old grade 9 female pupil was allegedly brutally assaulted and raped by two grade 12 boys.
He said he had engaged with all school governing body members, school principals in the province, discussing issues of sexual abuse and could assure that there was a decline.
Lesufi said the challenges with such cases in schools was how they were dealt with by officials. Teachers and management at the Ekurhuleni school have been accused of not following protocol when dealing with the case and not providing details immediately to the department on the circumstances of the incident.
Lesufi said the SGB and district would now have to account as to why protocol was not followed.
Charges of rape were laid against two matric pupils but were dropped because the prosecutor declined to proceed with the case because of inconsistencies in a statement.
He added that that the department would now go back to the drawing board as it believed that the school, the police , district officials and NPA had let it down in the way it handled the matter.
Among other issues, Lesufi said Gauteng schools were dealing with was the infestation of drugs on premises.
Allegations that matric pupils at Thuto Lesedi Secondary School were dealing in drugs on school premises and recruiting younger peers have been made.
Lesufi said the reality was that it was impossible to have security personnel stationed at all schools in the province, even though the department would be pleased to implement such a system.
“The reality is that I don’t have the budget to do so and I don’t want to create a false expectation that we have got the capability, skill, talent and resources to search every learner that comes to our school premises,” Lesufi said.