Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities said it noted ‘with concern the recent media reports about alleged instances between an educator and learners at a boy’s high school in Cape Town’.
The committee’s concerns related to the resignation of Bishops history teacher and waterpolo coach Fiona Viotti over an alleged sexual relationship with a pupil.
A statement by the Parliamentary Communication Services said the committee ‘notes with concern the recent media reports about alleged instances between an educator and learners at a boy’s high school in Cape Town’.
It quoted chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities Nonhlanhla Ncube-Ndaba as saying: ‘It is disconcerting that spaces intended to be safe for children to learn and thrive, are nodes in which gender-based violence is perpetrated.’
The committee, the statement said, ‘commends the courage of the boy and many other boys who have stepped forward and said “not in my name, me too”’
The statement said ‘the exploitation of learners in schools by persons in positions of power – in this case an educator – has become far too common. Whilst the committee respects the processes underway to deal with the matter, the committee urges the Department of Basic Education to revisit its policies in schools – as all children have a right to be safe, including the boy child. Notwithstanding the importance of focusing on the girl child, the boy child cannot and should not be left behind. The Sexual Offences and Related Matters Act makes clear provision for what constitutes rape, sexual assault and sexual grooming’.
The chairperson of Parliament’s Basic Education Committee, Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba, commented: ‘Any educator has an ethical responsibility to how she conducts herself. Even if a learner is above the age of consent, there is still a lot of dynamics at play and he remains a school child.’