Cape Town -
Twenty-seven recommendations from schools to have children expelled for alleged sexual misconduct were received by the Western Cape Education Department last year.
Fifteen of the cases resulted in expulsions, said Bronagh Casey, the spokeswoman for Education MEC Donald Grant.
These included sexual harassment, indecent exposure and sexual assault, all committed by pupils against pupils.
In 2012, 19 recommendations to have children expelled for alleged sexual misconduct were made by schools and 10 children were expelled.
The Cape Argus recently reported on two cases involving the alleged sexual misconduct of pupils, which are still under investigation.
One involved a Grade 1 Hout Bay pupil who was allegedly sexually assaulted by other boys. In the other case a Grade R pupil was allegedly raped by three Grade 2 boys.
Casey said the department viewed sexual assault or misconduct cases in “an extremely serious light” and investigated such cases as a matter of priority.
“We adopt a zero-tolerance approach towards sexual abuse of any kind.”
She said that between April 1 last year and March 28, 16 cases of sexual misconduct of teachers against pupils had been reported to the WCED.
Five teachers were found guilty and all five were dismissed.
“The department reported all cases of sexual misconduct to the SA Council of Educators (Sace) and noted it on Persal, the national register of public servants.
“Sace may strike teachers from the roll of professional educators, depending on the nature of the offence. Education departments may only employ teachers on the Sace roll.”
Casey said the department employed social workers in every circuit to work with schools, social services and other agencies on cases that needed special intervention.
“Both education and social development workers work with NGOs that provide support of various kinds, including counselling.”
She said the department’s Abuse no More policy provided schools with guidelines on how to deal effectively with all forms of abuse.
Each school was required to have a code of conduct, which had to be determined by their governing body “after a wide process of consultation in line with the SA Schools Act”.
Pupils can call the Safe Schools hotline on 0800 45 46 47 to report abuse, or to receive advice on issues of a sexual nature.