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Durban - VIOLENCE against women and children garnered much attention in South Africa and the province last year and with this in mind the Department of Education in KwaZulu-Natal wants to speedily wrap up an internal sexual harassment matter involving a school principal.

Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu said the department was taking a strong stance against gender-based violence.

“As an example of how serious we are, a case in point is the case we are almost wrapping up where a KZN school principal allegedly sexually harassed female educators. We should be finishing this case in 60 to 90 days,” he said.

Mshengu had been addressing the media at Sivananda Technical School on the province’s state of readiness as schools open tomorrow.

He said ideally the department would have a social worker on site at every school, however this was not possible.

“We are working with the Department of Social Development to help teachers in being able to identify pupils who are victims of gender-based violence.

“We are also working with the department to assist with counselling for teachers who are silent victims of gender-based violence,” said Mshengu.

He said the department also had to educate parents about not accepting “damages” payments if their children had been sexually harassed.

“Girls under the age of 16 cannot consent to any sexual activities, so teachers who have sex with pupils must be reported, and they will be rooted out of the education system.

“If this does happen I also encourage parents to go to the police and open a statutory rape case. Don’t be tempted to accept payments for damages as you are compromising the future of your child,” he warned.

Mshengu said security guards had already been deployed to many schools in the province in an effort to mitigate the problem of violence in schools.

“We have intensified our security arrangements to ensure the safety of teachers and pupils. A total of 1683 security personnel will be deployed to schools, together with 1500 volunteers from the Department of Community Safety and Liaison,” said Mshengu.

He said the department was continuing with its project of fencing all schools in the province.

“Fencing will help to clear the entrance and exit points at schools, where Department of Community Safety and Liaison volunteers will be stationed.”

SA Democratic Teachers’ Union provincial secretary Nomarashiya Caluza said the department’s interventions to address GBV and safety in schools were welcomed.

“We can’t continue to deny that GBV in schools is an issue, and bullying in schools across gender is also a problem. We applaud security at schools and we are thankful,” she said.

Daily News