NEWS & ANALYSIS

SACE has only recently sought to access sex offenders register - Sonja Boshoff

DA MP says council is in breach of law by failing to check records

SACE compromise child safety by failing to vet teachers against the Sexual Offenders register, as required by law

The South African Council of Educators (SACE) admitted in a reply to a DA Parliamentary Question that it has only recently attempted to access the National Register for Sex Offenders or the Child Protection Register.

Today marks the start of Child Protection Week and the admission by SACE that they have never checked teachers against the registers is a damning indictment against the body as well as the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga.

This admission means that for at least 10 years, people who are not fit to teach our children may have been granted licences to do just that because SACE has not complied with the law and checked these vital registers.

The Child Protection Register and Sex Offenders Register are crucial for protecting our learners from predatory school staff.

Section 47 of the Criminal law (Sexual Offences and related matters) Amendment Act 32 of 2007, states clearly that a licensing authority may not issue a licence (in this case, for teachers) without first checking the Sex Offenders register:

A licensing authority may not grant a licenceto or approve the management or operation of any entity, business concern or trade in relation to the supervision over or care of a child or a person who is mentally disabled without having determined, by way of an application to the Registrar for a prescribed certificate, whether or not the particulars of such person have been recorded in the Register

Any licensing authority or person who intentionally contravenes any provision of this section, is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding seven years or to both a fine and such imprisonment.

SACE is clearly in breach of law by their failure to check both records and may have been in breach for a full decade.

What is clear is that SACE, which is mandated to thoroughly vet teachers before allowing them to teach, has failed.

They have risked children’s lives by issuing licenses to people who could possibly be sexual predators.

The DA will submit a raft of further Parliamentary questions to find out:

Why SACE has failed to access the registers for a decade;

When did SACE write to the Director General of the Justice Department for access to the Sexual Offenders Register to fulfil their legal requirement, when did the DG respond, and what was the Director General’s response;

When did SACE initiate discussions to gain access to the Child Protection register with the DBE and the Department of Social Development? Have these departments responded speedily and supportively, and by when will SACE gain access; and

How many teaching licenses have been issued without being checked against the registers, as is required by law?

As SACE is an entity of the DBE, this staggering failure must also fall squarely at the feet of the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga.

The DA will explore every available avenue to hold them accountable for this startling failure which has compromised the lives of millions of children.

Statement issued by Sonja Boshoff MP, DA Member of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, 27 May 2018