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Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Des Van Rooyen. Picture Credit: Gallo Images
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Sex pests will be named & shamed

By Anna Majavu, Khanyisile Nkosi and Nawhal Kara | Jun 18, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

PEOPLE who have been convicted of sex crimes against children will find their names in a public register by the end of the month.

Justice department director-general Menzi Simelane told Parliament yesterday that the sexual offenders register will be introduced from July 1.

"We have gone a long way to establishing the register. In fact, it is ready," Simelane said.

The register comes about as a result of the new Sexual Offences Act, passed last year.

The register is not available to the general public but institutions working with children can access it to check prospective employees for sexual offences.

"It should help when you deal with teachers," Simelane said. "If there is confirmation that a prospective employee is a sex offender the employer is entitled not to employ that person."

Former deputy minister of justice Johnny de Lange said school and crèche principals will now be compelled to make background checks before employing teachers.

The introduction of the register has drawn mixed reactions from anti-child abuse organisations.

"It's about time," said Kevin Barbeau, a director at Women and Men Against Child Abuse.

Barbeau said the register would deter anybody wanting to commit crimes against children. But she said the register, which was proposed under the Children's Amendment Act, was more comprehensive but the passed register was a good start.

Childline national coordinator Joan van Niekerk said the establishment of the register was not only a "costly exercise" to the government but to NGOs and all other departments working with children.

She said the existence of two registers, one under the Children's Act and the other under the Sexual Offenses Act, meant "double funding and double bureaucratic exercise" for those who have to screen people through these two registers.

Van Niekerk said research throughout the world had shown that the register did not work.

Sello Mokoena, spokesperson for the department of social development in Gauteng, said the register was a good effort to fight child abuse.


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