Violence in schools across the country has set the wheels of inter-ministerial intervention in motion.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga yesterday gave an update on education, including preparations ahead of the 2018 National Senior Certificate. The briefing in Pretoria was dominated by reports of violence by pupils and pupil abductions.
Motshekga said schools were a reflection of society and its ills.
The symposium is being organised with the police, the Department of Social Development, as well as school governing body organisations in order to address issues of violence and abductions.
The symposium would be focused on finding ways to ensure learners' safety, Motshekga said.
“While in the meeting on Thursday, we were informed of the shocking incident where a learner stabbed a 24-year-old teacher to death in North West and another incident where a learner pointed a gun at a teacher in Gauteng.
“We have also been informed of the two young children who passed away from suspected food poisoning in Gauteng. The MEC in Gauteng has been interacting closely with the family to ensure they get to the bottom of the cause of these deaths.”
Motshekga referenced child abductions in the Western Cape, of which there were three confirmed cases, and an additional 16 reports of attempted abductions.
“During our symposium with police and parents we will be looking at how we can work together to find ways to ensure learner safety.”
Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said she supported initiatives to address issues of violence.
When asked what some of the issues she raised with Motshekga were, Schäfer said: “I do not discuss CEM meetings in the media.”
The police had established a task team to investigate the “disturbing pattern” of child abductions, said provincial police commissioner spokesperson Novela Potelwa.
The University of the Western Cape’s Children’s Rights Project has also embarked on a new project which is proposed to unmask child trafficking in the country by, among other things, scrutinising court cases of child trafficking in South Africa in the past three years.
The unit’s Professor Benyam Dawit Mezmur, who is a member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, said there was no adequate data on child trafficking in South Africa.
“This is due to shortcomings in research, co-ordination, reporting, monitoring and an effective national data collection and analysis system.
"Some recent reports have been labelled ‘overestimations’ of numbers of child trafficking in South Africa, and cause concerns among stakeholders in civil society and government,” Mezmur said.