Where’s the crime rehab for pupils, Lesufi?

Where’s the crime rehab for pupils, Lesufi?

Forest High School where one of school pupils was stabbed to death, 4 May 2019. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso / African News Agency (ANA)

Women & Men Against Child Abuse wants a national inquiry into ‘astounding levels of physical and sexual abuse and gang-related crime’ at schools.

The Gauteng department of education has been called on to identify rehabilitation programmes for pupils expelled for crime as research has pointed to a serious shortage of such state-assisted programmes.

Non-governmental organisation (NGO) Women & Men Against Child Abuse said education MEC Panyaza Lesufi had suggested pupils should undergo rehabilitation before being considered for admission to another school but did not identify any available programmes.

The organisation said Lesufi should identify the programmes available to “rehabilitate” youngsters who have committed murder or atttempted murder, such as in the case of the Forest High School pupils. Three pupils were stabbed by a fellow pupil.

“There is a serious lack of government-assisted initiatives or NGOs, and no diversion nor rehabilitation programmes available to deal with a 19-year-old who murders a fellow pupil that would allow for successful reintegration into our school system without putting other children at serious risk,” founding director Miranda Jordan said.

She said Lesufi should let the law run its course and consider that while education was a constitutional right, the right of other children to be educated in a safe space should take precedence.

The organisation referred to Lesufi’s statement during an SABC interview that the “sad part is the three pupils were not supposed to be at school because they weren’t writing exams”.

Jordan said they disagreed with this statement and that the tragedy was that perpetrators like these were within the school system and the school was aware of it.

“Bullying and sexual assault seem to be a part of the culture at this school so it should not come as a surprise that violence is rampant in that schooling community,” she said.

The organisation also called on the education department to launch a national inquiry into what it said were astounding levels of physical and sexual abuse and gang-related crime at schools.

The NGO vowed to monitor the “violations of children’s basic right to safety until government, educational and judicial authorities start implementing methods to curb the unacceptable assault of pupils”.

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