The South African Council of Educators (SACE) conceded on Sunday that it had not used the Sex Offenders Register to vet teachers in the past as it was still in the process of gaining access to it.

One of SACE’s core functions is to register teachers.

This after Democratic Alliance MP Sonja Boshoff issued a statement saying that SACE’s failure to check the register before issuing licences to teachers was against the law.

“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,” she said.

SACE spokesperson Themba Ndhlovu said it was not that simple.

“For us to have access to the Sex Offenders register, we have to go through the director generals,” SACE spokesperson Themba Ndhlovu told News24 on Sunday. He said that meetings over the matter had recently taken place, but concurred it was a “concern”.

Ndhlovu went on to stress that there were already a number of processes underway to verify the suitability of teachers applying to register with the Council.

From 2019, all those applying would need to submit a police clearance certificate as well, he said.

Ndhlovu said teachers who were struck off the roll for sexual misconduct were placed on the Child Protection Register.
However, the Sex Offenders Register only included those convicted by a court. He also said that, when applying for registration by the council, teachers had to indicate if they had ever been charged with misconduct.

He said anyone with a criminal record, also had to go through a panel which would determine if they were sufficiently rehabilitated to become registered as teachers. When asked what sort of convicted criminals had been assessed as suitable teachers, Ndhlovu said the particular details were not immediately available on Sunday.

Boshoff said the DA would be submitting further parliamentary questions about the matter. ― News24