Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund calls for removal of Kannaland mayor and re-listing him on sex offenders list
Share this article:
DURBAN: The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund has joined the calls for the immediate removal of newly elected Kannaland mayor Jeffrey Donson in the Western Cape.
Donson was convicted of statutory rape and indecent assault while he was Kannaland mayor in 2008.
The fund has also called for the removal of Donson’s deputy, Werner Meshoa, who is a convicted fraudster. Meshoa lost his job as a teacher after being found guilty of sexual misconduct with a pupil.
“The Fund calls for the re-listing of Donson and Meshoa on the Sex Offenders list and for the strengthening of legislation to protect children from sexual predators holding public office,” the fund said in a statement.
CEO of the Fund, Konehali Gugushe, said it was perturbing that Donson and Meshoa were even allowed to stand for public office again.
“This shows a loophole in our country’s legislation and promotes the protection of convicted perpetrators over that of children and women at the receiving end of the sexual assault,” she said.
Gugushe said as a country known as the rape capital of the world and where cases of rape, abuse and sexual assault, among others, remain under reported, South Africa should stand firm against perpetuating fears that the justice system favours perpetrators.
“Donson and Meshoa both demonstrate that these fears are valid. We cannot afford to send this message to vulnerable women and children,” she said.
Gugushe added that the fund hosted a webinar to discuss gaps related to the Children’s Amendment Bill on November 18.
She said the discussion revealed gaps in the legislation informed by the Fund’s oral and written submissions to Parliament last year.
The chief programmes officer at the Fund, Dr Stanley Maphosa, said in its submission, that the Fund had called for measures to improve the efficacy of the National Child Protection register.
“This is a significant step in ensuring that child abuse perpetrators will be precluded from assuming positions in public office or environments where children are potentially exposed to their presence. Furthermore, it will ensure that names of child sex offenders are never removed from the list, to ensure proper screening of individuals to promote the safety of children,” he said.
Maphosa said there was also a need to ensure that legislation was not far removed from implementation on the ground which was often the case and an issue that was raised by children the Fund had engaged on matters related to gaps in the Children’s Amendment Bill.
The Fund strongly condemned the comments of provincial chairperson, David Kamfer, from the Independent Civic Organisation of South Africa (Icosa)’s, the party the two men belong to, who was quoted in the media defending Donson by stating that he had no knowledge of the minor’s age and assumed that she was of legal age at the time.
“This argument is highly dangerous, legally indefensible and as such, individuals should refrain from using it as justification,” said Maphosa.
Last week The Mercury’s sister publication, the Cape Times, reported on Icosa’s announcement that Donson would not step down.
Kamfer said Icosa upheld all the rights of South Africans, including political rights, whereby every citizen had the right to vote in elections for any legislative body established in terms of the Constitution, to stand for public office and if elected to hold office.
Kamfer said Donson paid his dues and had been deemed fit by the courts.
“Icosa emphasises that (Donson) has never hidden parts of his life from the public. He was convicted of statutory rape and indecent assault in 2008 of a minor who lived as a life partner of a 50-year-old man for some time, and as such, had no knowledge of her age at the time and assumed that she was of legal age.
“To want to punish him again while he was already punished, by forcing his removal as executive mayor would be tantamount to double jeopardy, a principle prohibited in terms of our law and democracy,” he said.
Gugushe said inaction in the removal of Donson and Meshoa would be an indictment on South African society.
“Abuse against children does not occur in isolation. It occurs when communities do nothing, when perpetrators are allowed to take advantage of the justice system and when we all act as spectators. As media coverage around this issue dwindles, and as the justice system goes unchallenged, we should all be aware of the hand we play in retaining the violent status of our country,” she said.