“This resulted in the absence of witnesses in many instances and the lack of evidence for employers to act on. Due to this‚ sexual offenders would often be reinstated through the Education Labour Relations Council arbitration outcome and the teacher would not be struck off the roll of educators by SACE.”
The department said this created a loophole for paedophiles or sexual predators to re-enter the sector.
“This one-stop arbitration process will replace the department’s internal disciplinary hearing. And there will be a special panel of suitably qualified and experienced arbitrators to deal with these matters related to sexual misconduct between learners and teachers.”
The department said intermediaries had been appointed and trained to aid child victims or witnesses to give evidence at a special venue such as the Children’s Court. Two-way mirrors would be used. Judgment of the arbitration tribunal will be final and binding and have the same status as an arbitration award under the Labour Relations Act.
“The department of basic education is confident that these improved measures will close gaps in processes and ensure that sexual predators are not able to operate in schools‚” the department said.
The department said the bargaining council had also partnered with the police to ensure that the names of people involved in sexual offences with children were registered.