All South African teachers registering from the first time with the SA Council of Educators (Sace) have to produce a police clearance certificate as the organisation tries to keep sex pests out of the classrooms.
This policy was implemented as from the first of this month by Sace. Spokesperson Themba Ndhlovu said all the new teachers and those updating their details will need to produce a certificate.
"This was sparked by, among other things, the high number of cases of sex pest teachers that have been reported to the council over the years. For instance, between April 2016 and March 2017 there was a total of 99 incidents of sexual misconduct involving teachers, including rape, reported," Ndhlovu said.
He said the certificate should not be older than six months at the time of submissions, irrespective of the country of origin.
"In the past, teachers registering with Sace only had to indicate if they had a criminal record or not but there was no proof required. At the moment the council is still in discussion on what to do in terms of those already in the system.
"The sexual abuse of learners is a matter that the council does not tolerate and we hope that with this process we will be able to put a stop on it."
Speaking on behalf of the parents, National Association of School Governing Bodies (NSGB) general secretary Matakanye Matakanya said they welcomed the decision as it would ensure the safety of pupils.
"This will clean the system and help us get rid of those bad teachers," he said.
He added they hoped the new system would also help get rid of teachers who produced fake qualifications.
Teacher unions have also accepted the move. South African Teachers Democratic Union (Sadtu) general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said they fully support the decision as they want to professionalise the teaching profession.
"We have teachers who are preying on our children and we don't need them in this profession," he said.
Basil Manuel, executive director of the National Professional Teachers' Organisation of SA (Naptosa), said they cautiously welcomed the policy.
"We want to protect the profession and get the best people to come in. We will support it and see how it will unfold."