School marks Child Protection Week

Seen with the children at Siphosethu Special School and speaking out strongly against child trafficking are, from left: Masi Mahlophe (student social worker), Nikiwe Lesiba (social worker) and Jabulile Sibiya (student social worker)

Willy Mabe, the school principal, said they are sending a strong message to those who are taking advantage of their children.

“At the same time we want the victims to be aware of the abuse. They are raped and taken advantage of. We want to do all that we can to stop the abuse.

“Parents must play their roles in protecting their own children. They must check on them regularly and not allow them to go out alone at night,” said Mabe.

He said parents must make sure that if their children leave home to go to school, they really get to their transport.

“We have a case involving a learner who has been coming to school very late for three consecutive days. We asked her the reasons for being late, to which she replied that her uncle dropped her off very late. We could not believe her.

“As a result we phoned her parents only to find out that she was lying. We conducted our own investigation and found out that the child had been sleeping with different people. She was afraid to give names,” said Mabe.

He confirmed that the school is also dealing with another case in which the child is pregnant.

“The child is five months pregnant. The parent is aware of the pregnancy and it looks like she is not perturbed by it because she never reported the matter to the school. Unfortunately, we have to take the child out of school because this is a special school. We can’t keep pregnant learners here,” explained Mabe.

Willy Mabe, the principal of Isiphosethu Special School, says the purpose of the event was to send a strong message to those who are taking advantage of their children.

He said that if problems arose, they would refer the child to the social workers employed by the school.

“The social workers will work hand in hand with the sisters, who can check and confirm if the child has been abused. If the sister can’t get results, she will then refer the child to a hospital for further check-ups and the police will get involved,” said Mabe.

Nikiwe Lesiba, the social worker, explained what they do after they receive a report of abuse.

“As soon as we get a report that a child is being abused, we refer her to welfare and then to Thuthuzela. We also involve the SAPS and a professional nurse,” said Lesiba.

Gloria Buthelezi, the head of the computer department, said parents who suspect child abuse must report it to the school.

“The school has social workers who are well equipped when it comes to dealing with abuse. Parents must not keep quiet until it’s too late,” said Buthelezi.

Selina Matloga, the social worker at Thuthuzela, confirmed they have doctors who examine victims.

“If we find out that the victim really experienced abuse, we give them counselling and then open cases with the SAPS,” said Matloga.

Communications official at Katlehong Police Station Capt Mega Ndobe said as soon as the abuse is reported and confirmed via a medical examination, the police register the case and an investigation.

“If the suspect is known we make an arrest immediately,” said Ndobe.

He said the sentencing is not light at all.

“It is nothing less than 15 years, but it depends on the age of victim and how the abuse was inflicted. If there was kidnapping and beating involved, more years are added to the sentencing,” said Ndobe.

Aaron Damane

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