CGE Reports: Learner Pregnancy-Policy Interplay; Assessment of Government 2023

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

05 March 2024
Chairperson: Ms C Ndaba (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


The Portfolio Committee met with the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) to receive a report on the learner pregnancy-policy interplay: school dropout of adolescent girls during pregnancy and in the postpartum period in selected South African schools. The Committee also received a report on government implementation of the National Strategic Plan (NSP) on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide.

The CGE presented the results of its comprehensive study on school dropout among adolescent girls during pregnancy and in the postpartum period to the Portfolio Committee. The Commission reported that the study revealed a multitude of factors contributing to adolescent pregnancy, including limited knowledge about sexual biology and access to contraception services, fear of stigmatisation, lack of parental involvement, various socioeconomic factors, statutory rape, older sex partners, teacher–student sexual relations, and substance abuse. The Commission additionally identified individual, household and school-related factors were identified as barriers to the retention of pregnant learners and adolescent mothers in school.

Members asked what role the Commission played in assisting learners in preventing pregnancies. Do they conduct awareness programmes? Was there any assistance provided by CGE in the schools who have pregnant learners? What advice would the Commission give to the schools which have pregnant learners? What was CGEs recommendation to the school principal and other stakeholders to prevent teenage pregnancies?

The Committee questioned whether the Commission shared its findings and recommendations with stakeholders, and how they implemented these recommendations – noting the poor performance of the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities in the implementation of the National Strategy for the Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy (NSP). Members suggested that it schedule a meeting to hold the Department accountable for its progress in implementing the Strategy and to raise issues contained in the Commission’s report.

One Member lamented that all the cases that she had raised concerning the abuse of people working in farmlands, and the police evicting citizens from their homes, akin to the Apartheid regime, were still not addressed.

Meeting report

Opening Remarks
The Chairperson welcomed everyone into the meeting. She then indicated that she had been approached by the leadership of the Northern Cape, Limpopo and Free State, who were complaining that they do not see the commissioners from the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) deployed to those provinces despite the fact that there were provincial offices. She asked the Commissioner deployed to the Western Cape to liaise with Ms M Khawula (EFF) and try and help the families that wrote to the Chairperson about the issues that they were facing.

She asked the CGE to confirm whether a commissioner had been deployed to Gauteng, and for a status update on the two cases from that province that had been forwarded to the chairperson and deputy chairperson of the CGE. She asked the CGE to check on KwaZulu-Natal, where there were still outstanding issues with some of the families not having been allocated houses while other families with girl children had been assigned housing that was male-dominated. She asked that the CGE do an oversight, as most of the families affected came from poor families. She also asked who had replaced the Commissioner in Mpumalanga who had died.

Adv. Sepanya Mogale, Chairperson of the CGE, confirmed that all the provinces had been assigned commissioners from the CGE. There were also backup commissioners in all of the provinces. However, due to the challenges over backup commissioners doing the commissioners' work, they had decided to have the backup commissioner hang back and only step in cases of emergencies.

Regarding Limpopo, she said the complaint was in order because it had been neglected, as the assigned Commissioner visited the province in late 2023 and had yet to go there again. However, work had been going on in the province conducted by the provincial team, which was quite able to do so. She said that they are yet to appoint a new commissioner in Gauteng to take over but had in the last two weeks in the interim allocated Commissioner Thando Gumede, who had recently visited the province but she was yet to receive an update from her following the visit. In the Free State, the Commissioner assigned to that province had done some work. Regarding the Northern Cape, she said there was a challenge with the Commissioner and the Provincial Minister, and there were certain tensions about the work they were dealing with. Since then, they have decided that the work should continue as normal, and the relevant Commissioner can clarify this, although she was aware that her visits to those provinces were not that frequent.

The Chairperson asked if it was true that there was a fight in the Northern Cape.
Adv Mogale responded that there was no fight in the Northern Cape, rather a misunderstanding between the Commissioner and the provisional manager.

The Chairperson asked that the CGE present a full report on that misunderstanding as that issue had been reported to her as Committee Chairperson. Also, as much as Commissioner Prabashni Subrayan Naidoo was visible in Kwazulu-Natal, there was an outcry that she deals with the issue of Yama Flats.

Adv. Sepanya asked that the Committee allow her to go prepare a report regarding the commissioners and whether they had been to their assigned provinces. The report would be more detailed. She was not prepared for those questions and did not want to skimp on the requested information.

The Chairperson said that there were outstanding matters in the Free State and asked that the Commissioner in the Free State provide a full report regarding issues prevalent there and those raised by the Committee. She asked who was deployed in Mpumalanga.

Adv. Sepanya, on Mpumalanga, responded that they were waiting for the new commissioners. In the meantime, the office of the CGE Chair communicated with the province and provided whatever support was necessary. Thankfully, there was a senior provisional manager in charge who was very capable. Mpumalanga was in solid hands, although the person who was on the ground was the previous commissioners.

The Chairperson said that she had gathered that the Commission does not visit these provinces.

Adv. Sepanya indicated that this is the case for some of the provinces.

The Chairperson interjected and said that whenever she raised concerns about something, it meant that she had gathered detailed information about each and every province. She does not just raise a matter without having had people raising the matter with her on the ground. In KZN, they told her Commissioner Naidoo has been doing work. She verified this and received confirmation, but added that they wanted the Commissioner to see how best she could assist the families affected by floods. She asked if Commissioner Naidoo was in the meeting.

Adv. Sepanya confirmed that Commissioner Naidoo and Commissioner Gumede are in the meeting. She asked Commissioner Gumede to clarify the trip of the 28th.

The Chairperson said that she would make things easy for the Commission delegates. She indicated that she received reports that the Commissioner deployed in North West, Commissioner Ngomane, was assisting with cases by implementing certain programmes. In the Eastern Cape, they know about Commissioner van der Merwe. The Commissioner’s intervention was still needed in assisting villages where young boys were raping aged women – to see what assistance the CGE could provide, working with the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Justice Department. She said that Commissioner van der Merwe surely understood what she (Chairperson) was talking about. She asked if the Commissioner was in attendance at this meeting.

Adv. Sepanya confirmed that Commissioner van der Merwe and all the other commissioners were in attendance.

The Chairperson asked that the CGE prepare a quarterly report so that they can make time for the Committee to receive briefings from the Commission on reports during the following week. All the individuals from the Commission would be given an opportunity to appraise the Committee about the work they are doing in their respective provinces.

Briefing by CGE: Learner Pregnancy-Policy Interplay
Dr Dennis Matotoka, Acting CEO, CGE, said that the Commission conducted the study so as to make a meaningful contribution to the body of knowledge relating to the factors that influence pregnant learners and adolescent mothers to not return to school postpartum; to make policy recommendations and to fulfill its constitutional mandate. The study aimed to investigate reasons for school dropout by adolescent girls during pregnancy and in the postpartum period. The study used a qualitative research approach that enabled the researchers to unearth a deeper understanding of people’s behaviors, knowledge, views and subjective experiences. The study also adopted the phenomenological research design premised on the philosophy that the world is socially constructed. Participants were drawn from three provinces with the highest rates of teenage pregnancies in the country in 2019/20: KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, and Eastern Cape. The study considered covering provinces with a high number of learner dropouts associated with pregnancies and childbirth. However, accurate and reliable statistics that reflected these variables were not publicly available. The study had a sample size of 24 adolescent girls and 33 key informants, thus 57 participants in total. The key informants included senior officials from the National Department of Basic Education School principals and educators.

He said the researchers experienced delays in getting responses confirming DBE’s participation and collaboration with the CGE in the study. This was due to the sensitive nature of the study and having adolescents as participants. Researchers also experienced some uneasiness from the schools due to the data collection being done from October to December. This time of year was crucial, particularly for Grades 10 to 12, because it is revision and exam time in most schools. The CGE had planned to conduct interviews much earlier than this, but could not due to the delays mentioned.

Ms Naledi Selebano, Acting Head of Research, CGE, said that their 2022 study on adolescent pregnancy revealed that factors that lead to adolescent pregnancy were multiple and dynamic. It revealed that participants had some form of knowledge of the various types of contraceptives but displayed very little understanding of how they work. The most common types of contraceptives known to the participants were the contraceptive injection, contraceptive pills, and contraceptive implants. The participants’ reluctance to take up contraceptives was also influenced by biological misconceptions and myths regarding the side effects of contraceptives – such as the belief that contraceptives make your body wobbly or that they lead to infertility, without exploring the full scope of contraceptives that are available. She said that, in provinces such as the Eastern Cape, parents pushed back against the presence of mobile clinics in schools claiming that the availability of contraceptives ignited early sexual debut.

The study found that there were numerous factors leading to adolescent pregnancy including minimum or lack of parental involvement with sex being a taboo topic. There were also socioeconomic factors that caused adolescents to come from disadvantaged backgrounds. When they fall pregnant, there is always the fear and perception that they are worsening their situation. Another factor was that some young girls engaged in sex with older partners for survival reasons. Teen pregnancies were also caused by statutory rape as well as substance abuse. From the research findings, she reported that the factors that led to withdrawal from school were individual, household, and school-related as well as lack of knowledge of the National Policy on the Prevention and Management of Learner Pregnancy approved by the Cabinet in 2021

As CGE, they had made a number of recommendations that the Departments of Basic Education (DBE), Health (DoH), Social Development (DSD), and South African Police Service (SAPS) spearhead school-based and community programmes regarding the factors leading to not only teen pregnancy but also school dropout that followed. The CGE also recommended that more studies be undertaken to unpack in detail the specific economic needs of pregnant learners and adolescent mothers that led to withdrawal from school. She said that schools should create a positive learning environment by adopting values of empathy, non-judgmental attitudes, and emotional support. The CGE also recommended that the National and Provincial Departments of Basic Education roll out advocacy and awareness-raising initiatives to support and strengthen the application of the prescripts of the National Policy on the Prevention and Management of Learner Pregnancy across all schools in all provinces.

(See presentation for more details)

Briefing on Implementation of the NSP on GBVF between 2020 and 2022
Ms Naledi said that the purpose of the study was to review the implementation of the National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (NSP on GBVF) by the South African government and other state-funded agencies between 2020/2021 and 2021/22. As the CGE, they monitored and reviewed the implementation of the NSP. The study relied heavily on the cooperation of the many lead and support government departments assigned tasks and responsibilities in the NSP, which was not forthcoming from the departments that did not provide the necessary responses or took longer than usual to respond. They also had difficulty determining whether the NSP yearly targets were achieved within the targeted two financial years because the CGE researchers were not privy to the implementing department’s targets.

Their findings demonstrated that, out of the 144 indicators, 11 that were targeted for completion within the 2020 and 2022 financial years were achieved. CGE therefore concluded that, while there is an indication of progress made towards achieving some of the NSP indicators, there were several instances where progress could not be assessed due to the lack of performance data.

She said that the lack of data undermined the objective of this review to give an overall impression on strides made by the country and whether progress was advanced, slow, or completely lacking in the implementation of the NSP in its first two years of rollout. The lack of performance information on the various indicators of the NSP pointed to the leadership and accountability vacuum which created by delays in setting up the NCGBVF, as it was the entity earmarked to coordinate, lead, and monitor the implementation of NSP. CGE therefore made a number of recommendations, including that the process of establishing the NCGBVF structure should be fast-tracked as the effective implementation of the NSP is largely dependent on it. The CGE recommends that lead entities play an effective role in ensuring coordination and accountability in implementing key activities where they are assigned.

(See presentation for more details)

The Chairperson asked whether the CGE shares their findings with relevant stakeholders. If they do not, then how did CGE expect them to implement their recommendations if they are not shared? Had they engaged with the Minister of Basic Education, Department of Social Development, and SAPS? Did the CGE have plans, based on the report, for the new administration, as she had noted the poor performance of the Department of Women which was the custodian of the implementation of the NSP? She said that the Committee might have to ask the Department of Women to account on how far they had reached in monitoring the implementation if the NSP by all roleplaying departments.
She asked the Members to remind her to write to the Department of Women and raise the things that they see in the report and their mandate in monitoring an evaluation.

Ms G Opperman (DA), on the state of learner dropout due to pregnancy, asked the CGE how many of the teen pregnancies were as a result of sexual assault or statutory rape. On 26 January 2024, the DBE reported that about 150 000 girls between the ages of 10-19 years have become pregnant. She asked if the CGE was cross-checking with the DBE because the Department has form 22 that deals with teenage pregnancy. How many learners were referred to the DSD or social workers? How was the CGE addressing the issues of transactional sex as the report referred to sugar daddies or girls getting pregnant for survival?

Ms Opperman asked: since it was mandatory to report to SAPS teenagers between 10-16 years who were pregnant, who was investigating and reporting on the person responsible for impregnating children as young as ten years old? Who was heading those investigations? Had the CGE kept record of how many of any of the girls were returning to school after the study? Was it true that schools must transport the learners in labour, especially where there was no clinic available in cases of emergencies? Who would be held liable and blamed when something goes wrong when trying to assist the pregnant learners?

The Chairperson asked if the CGE, in any of their recommendations, had included a recommendation that each of the schools have a social worker so that they unburden the teachers.

Mr F Masiko (ANC) said that reports are appreciated but asked them to thoroughly assess the sex education curriculum. She asked that there be more accountability for people who were impregnating the learners, who are, in most cases, people in positions of power.

On the second report, she agreed with what the Chairperson had raised about the role of the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD). She was of the view that what the CGE had done in the terms of the report was something that the Department of Women ought to be doing in terms of their specific role with the NSP which was not only of implementation but also of monitoring and evaluation. The study was something that the CGE, of course, would face limitations in terms of collection of data. Had the role been placed with the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, under the monitoring and evaluation unit and also the secretariat, they would not be receiving the report they have just gotten from the CGE. She asked whether or not the report had been presented to the relevant government departments but, specifically the Department of Women. Had the CGE been able to meet with the secretariat themselves regarding the implementation of the NSP? Had they also looked at the responsibility given to the secretariat and whether or not they can perform what they are supposed to do under NSP?

She was disappointed that, out of 114 indicators, only 11 indicators were achieved in the reporting period. There was a crisis of gender-based violence in the country. Government departments were getting away with ‘murder’. Therefore, she proposed inviting the Department of Women, CGE and the Department of Basic Education to account for their role. CGE had limited human resources in terms of researchers but they were able to conduct the research. Meanwhile, the Department of Women had a monitoring and evaluation unit with warm bodies who seemed to be doing nothing. Part of their mandate would be to do what CGE had done. Accountability was quite important. She said that it would not be shocking if the Department might not even be aware of what was being reported.

The Chairperson asked the Committee Secretariat to check the dates and set a day for a meeting with the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities and the CGE for them to account on the implementation of NSP.

On the first presentation, Ms M Hlengwa (IFP) asked what role the CGE played in assisting learners to prevent pregnancies. Do they conduct awareness programmes? Was there any assistance provided by CGE in the schools that have pregnant learners? What advice would CGE give to schools that have pregnant learners? What was CGEs recommendation to the school principal and other stakeholders to prevent teenage pregnancies?

The Chairperson responded that awareness campaigns were supposed to be done by the Department of Health and not the CGE specifically. There was a need to separate things that CGE was doing vis-à-vis those that the service delivery departments were supposed to be doing. She advised that the Member should be asking whether the CGE had engaged with the Department of Basic Education and Health on prevention measures regarding high rate of learner pregnancy, so that it does not look like CGE is responsible for service delivery. They must be seen to be playing their part as CGE in terms of ensuring that justice is being done for the victims of sexual violence. Other victims are being sexually violated or raped by young kids. There needs to be a clear distinction between the cases that are the responsibility of the CGE from those that fall within the purview of the Departments of Police, Justice and Health, as they are the ones that should deal with some of the matters. She said that she was clarifying for online viewers that the CGE is not fully responsible for doing awareness campaigns related to these matters.

Ms T Makata (ANC), on the first report, said that she was sceptical of the numbers considering that CGE used a sample size of only 24 participants and 33 key informants. In Limpopo, there was some information that the Department did not provide, and that was worrisome. In as much as the report only focused on three provinces, a snippet view in terms of what was happening in the other provinces could have assisted the Committee to have a holistic view of what was happening while the study was being undertaken. She asked for an expanded sample size and a more holistic analysis of the challenges faced, which would have given them a thorough understanding, especially if they wanted to develop targeted interventions and support systems. She complained that the timing taken to conduct the study was a bit self-defeating.

On the second report, she said that a lack of data limits the Committee's oversight role, as the Committee was unaware of the materiality of the data not included. She indicated that she supported Ms Masiko's proposal.

Ms N Sharif (DA) welcomed the report and said it was shocking to hear about the high amount of teenage pregnancies while only looking at three provinces. She agreed that late reports made it difficult for the Committee to take on the issues and hold the people accountable. She asked about the current progress made on the recommendation made by the CGE. She found it shocking to see that a policy was agreed to in 2021, yet there were still issues around understanding and, in some cases, people knowing a piece of legislation that needs to be extracted within the country, three years later. She asked that moving forward, when making a presentation like the one done by the CGE, it was important to also invite the specific department so that they can be held accountable. The DBE must tell the CGE why the policy has not been disseminated to all schools. She lamented that whenever they get reports from the CGE, the complaints have been the same since the beginning of the Committee’s term – which were a lack of response, bad timing, and failure to provide information that the Committee needs. For a Chapter Nine institution, this was unacceptable. Departments must always be held accountable.

Ms Shariff stated that the NSP's late reporting on the financial year 2021/2022 made it difficult to hold departments accountable. The DWYPD was always a main contender in the departments failing most in government. This may be something for the CGE to look at. She commended CGE for consistently providing good reports that were easy to understand. She encouraged the CGE to continue carrying out its mandate and hold government accountable as a Chapter Nine institution without fear or favour, moving forward. She said that it was hard to get around the question specifics because it was not CGE that needed to answer for that. She looked forward to meeting with the DBE, DoH, and other stakeholders who need to answer. She lamented that 83 000 pregnant teenage girls were too much. It was something important that the Department needed to look at before they break this term.

Ms N Sonti (EFF) lamented that teenage girls were being affected by issues of early pregnancies in all provinces and it seemed to only be getting worse. Early teenage pregnancies were the reason for the learner dropouts while the boys who impregnated the young girls continued with their life and school. She asked that perhaps CGE should focus on teaching learners about pregnancy prevention through contraceptives because teenage pregnancy continues to grow instead of reducing or ending. As parents, they want their children to learn in schools, not dealing with pregnancies. She expressed her disagreement with the idea of abortions being a solution. She did not support it at all. She felt that it would be better to promote contraceptives amongst the children so that they could continue with school.

The Chairperson interjected and said that this is not the responsibility of the CGE but that of the Department of Health.  
Ms Sonti said that she understood what the Chairperson was saying but still felt that the Commission should work with Health and give advice on how to roll out such awareness campaigns and implement such solutions. She said this because the CGE was currently appearing before the Committee, not Health.
The Chairperson said that she avoided creating the impression that CGE has to give health education on prevention or lessons on family planning. This is the responsibility of the Department of Health (DoH). She suggested that CGE schedule a meeting with DoH to raise these matters, but said the Committee would also speak to DoH and highlight these gaps.
Ms Sonti asked what relationship CGE had with SAPS over the boy learners who go to school armed with weapons and scared teachers. Teachers were afraid to search these learners’ schoolbags. For example, there was a school in her community, in Marikana, where there was a fight at the end of last year wherein kids had a big fight, stabbing each other. The Police tried to intervene but could not contain the escalation quickly enough. These kids were uncontrollably violent, and she does not know whether they were being influenced by the drugs they were smoking. She enquired about the CGE’s relationship with the Police and with local school governing bodies.

Lastly, she recounted that the Chairperson had asked the CGE Chairperson about the Northern Cape, where there was little to no communication or a misunderstanding on a certain matter. She asked if this was the reason why the Northern Cape was not included in the list of commissioner vacancies in the different provinces. She just needed clarity on this.

Response by CGE
Adv. Sepanya replied that, from her understanding, the appointment of commissioners was not a provincial thing but the organisation which has that responsibility. It was not about whether a commissioner came from that province or not. It was basically what happened inside the CGE. What had happened in terms of the breakdown in Northern Cape had nothing to do with whether the Commission was local or not; it was just something that had to do with the breakdown of relations.

Ms Selebano replied that the sample size was limited due to them using the qualitative approach, which has now brought up the need to expand their scope. They also needed to look at who the perpetrators were and also advice on some of the interventions needed in that regard. There were a number of studies in the country which could help in revealing the prevalence of pregnancies as a result of rape. When conducting the study on learner dropouts, they did not have much information on that. However, that was an area that the Committee had flagged – that they need to use a quantitative approach so that they are not only looking into the in-depth situation or unpacking the challenges but also the prevalence. She was unable to give a response on how many of the pregnancies were as a result of rape. Moving forward, they have taken note of the need to conduct a study on the prevalence of learner dropout. Through the study, they learnt that the Department had not made those figures publicly available. While conducting the research, they struggled to get information because they were aware that those numbers existed but did not know where to get them. Going forward, they would like to expand on the study and perhaps address issues around who the perpetrators and fathers are, including covering issues of sexual abuse and rape.

She agreed that the sample was quite limited and it was informed by the phenomenological research approach. This was because they first wanted to have an in-depth understanding of the challenges before going into prevalence and looking into the big numbers. What quantitative research does is show how widespread the situation was but hardly how bad it is.

Ms Selebano explained that the phenomenological research approach advocates for between five and 25 research participants. This was because the research was not focused on how big the situation is, but rather on the in-depth analysis of the challenge. They have noted the need as the CGE to expand on the scope of the study as a lot of dynamics are at play. They focused on three provinces on a 12-month cycle because of how their APP was designed was limiting. At the end of every financial year, they have to produce a report and be practical in terms of how much they can handle but also want to sample. There was transferability of their findings. She gave an example of two weeks prior when they presented at the Mpumalanga Provincial forum and found value in the studies because CGE was able to clearly define the scope of the study as well as provide background information about when it was conducted. The provincial forum had also asked that CGE to cover other provinces because of the varied circumstances in each province. She reiterated that the findings of the study could be utilised in other contexts, but there was a need for a more quantitative study as each province has its own dynamic issues.

She agreed with the Chairperson on the need for social workers in schools, which was covered under the recommendation for psychosocial report so as to align with the policy prescripts. She agreed to amplify that recommendation and not just say psychosocial support but be clear and say social workers.

Dr Matotoka, regarding the sharing report, said they presented the report on teenage pregnancy to the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education. During that meeting, a progress report prepared by the DBE was presented. They just had to get that report from them but they confirmed that the issues raised in the report by the CGE had been shared. They had requested to be supplied with that report which the Department said it would. What they needed to do was get feedback from the Department so they could obtain a copy of the report. He confirmed they had also held various policy dialogues and stakeholder engagements similar to the one in Mpumalanga.

The Chairperson asked whether a timeline had been set for when the DBE would submit that progress report.

The Acting CEO replied that there were no timeframes because the progress report was presented before the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, but they just needed to follow up to ask for them to provide it. He admitted it was an error for the CGE not to set timeframes.

The Chairperson advised the CGE to always give timeframes with the stakeholders they engage with.

In further response to Ms Opperman, he said that there was a criteria that they used for the study which was clear in terms of exclusion of certain persons including adolescent persons who experienced sexual abuse. This was done because, when it came to sexual abuse and rape, it may not be easy to engage with such parties because the matter may be pending before another forum or it may subject them to secondary victimisation. It was from that perspective that they decided not to engage those that were the subject of sexual abuse or rape. He admitted that this was an issue that needed to be confronted nationally because the reality was that some learners did indeed drop out following pregnancy as a result of rape. Questions that the study did not engage in, such as transactional sex, were also not part of the study, but the study admitted that these were some of the legitimate areas. It was unfortunate that they were not part of the criteria used.

In terms of who was reporting, he explained that the schools would report to SAPS as it was covered under their national policy that was now in effect from 2022. As CGE, they had observed a challenge in monitoring court proceedings and how certain matters are handed before the court. They had identified a variety of issues in terms of justice and protection. He said that, in KwaZulu-Natal, there was a matter where a presiding officer person passed on and the docket was also missing. They had to engage as the province under the leadership of Commissioner Naidoo to say that the docket must be reconstructed so that the matter could be re-enrolled. Those are the things that the CGE is responsible for and can actually account for. Schools had the responsibility to report and Investigating Officers must be the ones to do those investigations. The issue was whether the officers assigned to investigate them were unimpeachable. When it comes to sexual abuse or rape matters, such cannot be allocated a constable to investigate. They needed someone at a higher level who was experienced in dealing with cases of sexual violence. CGE had already engaged with SAPS to not have junior officers handle critical matters such as sexual abuse or rape.

On the curriculum of sexual education offered in school, he said that, through their engagements, they had picked up that there was a challenge in the curriculum. From Grade 10, they started teaching a subject called Gender Harm and Violence. There was a need to demystify some of the terminologies used in their curriculum so that there was a clear understanding of what they wanted to teach and convey to society. The subject was unclear as to what it sought to achieve. He agreed that they needed to be accountable for those who impregnate learners, and that was why there was an emphasis on reporting learner pregnancy by the schools to the relevant authorities. There had been a challenge in Limpopo, Gauteng and Eastern Cape where there was a request that if a learner was coming to school pregnant, then they had to report with a parent. Otherwise, they would be denied admission. In their opinion, that was discriminatory and they intervened as CGE. However, they are unable to respond positively to the question of who impregnated the learners. It was a study they are yet to do. But what they understood was the common cause was that those who sexually assault the minors have committed statutory rape and the victims know their whereabouts. He encouraged victims to report them to SAPS. As the CGE, they monitor the case from the moment it is reported until after the conclusion of the case.

On CGE teaching learners how to use contraceptives, he said that, as espoused by the Chairperson, that was not the mandate of CGE. They, however, can engage with the Department of Basic Education and recommend that some of the challenges they are experiencing can be dealt with through the awareness session which they must take responsibility for rolling out the programs across all provinces. Similarly, on the issue of advising teachers – this was something that the Department, through the policy that is now in place, is going to be advised on. In further response to the Chairperson, he said that there was a need to have midwives in schools because social workers were not trained to deal with pregnancy.

He acknowledged that they did not provide timelines on the provision of the progress report from the Department of Basic Education on the implementation of their findings. He promised to follow up with the DBE after the meeting so that they could get a copy.

On the relationship between SAPS and the CGE relating to violence in schools, he said that one of their responsibilities was that they must have a relationship with like-minded institutions as the CGE but they must also guard against entering into an MOU with institutions they are expected to conduct oversight over. SAPS was a critical stakeholder who advanced the CGE’s mandate in providing safety and protection but they are careful not to enter into a formal relationship where they would be unable to conduct oversight.

They were currently visiting different substations through the commissioners to determine issues around gender-based violence, amongst others. When they found that there were police officers wanting in terms of behaviour, they contacted the provincial head to explain what was happening. As far as the violence was concerned, it was not something that they had engaged SAPS so that they could deal with violence in school. But where they have picked up violence in schools, which was gender-related, they have been able to engage DBE and SAPS and then monitor the specific courts and cases they are undergoing in the court system.

The Chairperson thanked the CGE for their presentation and responses. She asked if there were outstanding reports from the CGE.

The Committee Secretary responded that she would have to check, but there were only about three.

Adv. Sepanya informed the Committee that Commissioner Nomasonto Mazibuko would be attending the day's meeting as her contract was coming to an end.

Further Discussion
Ms Shariff asked for an update on the Commissioners handbook. Had the same been finalised? Could they provide a copy? If it was concluded, could they present it before the Committee?

She asked for a list of all the commissioners who were leaving and those who were still present and had been allocated to different stations. For commissioners who are leaving, she asked that they provide the list of backup commissioners.

Adv. Sepanya said that the handbook had been concluded and adopted during the plenary of 11 December 2023. They did not only do the handbook but also prepared internal and external protocols just to minimise some of the internal and external challenges when they have events and the relations between commissions and staff. They delayed in disseminating the document because they wanted to formally launch it. She said that all the Committee Members were invited to the formal launch. She agreed to provide a report on the list of commissioners, existing, backup and those who were leaving.

The Chairperson thanked the CGE for the presentation and responses provided. She encouraged them to continue the good work but asked that the research team do their own research and not rely on research conducted by third parties. Research conducted by the CGE would make it easier for the CGE to respond to questions asked by the Committee and also improve on the gaps pointed out. She hoped that the report presented in the next term would have added and improved on the issues raised in the meeting. She said that once they had organised themselves, they would invite the CGE to present the outstanding reports probably one evening the following week.

Ms M Khawula (EFF) said that all the cases that she had raised concerning the abuse of people working in farmlands and the Police evicting citizens from their homes, akin to the Apartheid regime, were still not addressed. Such cases were really affecting her. The Deputy Minister of Human Settlements knew about the Phoenix case, as did the Durban CGE. The Justice Legal Advisor also knew about the matter, but there was no sign that it was being addressed – that the eviction victims are being protected from being dragged out by the Police and private security. What caused her heartache was seeing young children being thrown out, as it reminded her of what had happened in her community during the Apartheid regime when their parents had not paid rental fees. To her, it seemed like black people were still not free in their own country. These officials who have been appointed are clearly not doing the work that they are supposed to be doing. They had visited, along with CGE, places like Dundee and saw Apartheid victims who had been disabled and families that were poisoned. There still has not been any progress on any of these cases. This brought her misery because she had also experienced some of these injustices. They fought in the 1980s, hoping that life would be a lot better than it is today, for the disenfranchised. What annoys her is that she has to waste her fuel travelling and visiting these communities on matters that were meant to be addressed but still have not been. She lamented that they, as Members, do not deserve to be regarded as honourable, because the matters raised in these meetings are not being resolved on the ground.

She said that she sent the Committee Chairperson the contact details of Lawrence Phahlo (sp), who was removed by the Deputy Minister. She also sent her Carol’s number, who was advisor to the Minister of Justice.

The Chairperson asked Ms Khawula to clarify who was removing who and where.

Ms Khawula explained that at unit 20, in Phoenix, a family had lived there for more than 23 years. There was a war where Indians were removed from black townships such as Ezimangweni. These Indians were then migrated and given vacant land in Phoenix. Then there were those who chose to stay there, while others opted to move again. The family in question now had been residing there since those times, building a home on vacant land from nothing. Now, there has been someone claiming to own this land. When she went to Verulam Police, she discovered that the Islamic community tended to investigate whether occupants had title deeds or not. If not, they then quickly apply for the deed and then come back to evict the occupants, claiming to own the land.

The Chairperson asked the CGE Chairperson and Commissioner Mazibuko to deal with this case separately from what has been discussed in the meeting.

Ms Khawula continued to lament that what was further causing setbacks in KZN were the High Courts and Magistrate Courts. The Police were also being used to evict residents instead of doing their primary work which is to chase and apprehend criminals.

The Chairperson said that this case would be referred to CGE.

Ms Khawula said that she was currently outside a family home, speaking to a child who had been dragged and forced out by the police – exactly like what had happened during Apartheid. She wished that people knew how Apartheid police had abused them in black communities. They do not even know where their parents were even buried. They would even have to be silent about their missing family members because ‘Black Jacks’ would catch wind of this and then come to evict and abuse the children who were staying alone.

The Chairperson thanked Ms Khawula for her input.

Committee Minutes

Minutes of 21 November 2023
The Chairperson took the Committee through the minutes, and invited the Members to make comments and corrections.

Members did not make any comments or corrections.

The Chairperson called for the adoption of the minutes.

Ms Masiko moved to adopt the minutes. Ms T Masondo (ANC) seconded the adoption of the minutes.

Minutes of 23 November 2023
The Chairperson took the Committee through the minutes, and invited the Members to make comments and corrections.

Members did not make any comments or corrections.

The Chairperson called for the adoption of the minutes.

Ms C Phiri (ANC) moved to adopt the minutes. Ms Khawula seconded the adoption of the minutes.

Minutes of 28 November 2023
The Chairperson took the Committee through the minutes, and invited the Members to make comments and corrections.

Members did not make any comments or corrections.

The Chairperson called for the adoption of the minutes.

Ms Shariff moved to adopt the minutes. Ms Makata seconded the adoption of the minutes.

Minutes of 7 December 2023
The Chairperson took the Committee through the minutes, and invited the Members to make comments and corrections.

Members did not make any comments or corrections.

The Chairperson called for the adoption of the minutes.

Ms Masiko moved to adopt the minutes. Ms Masondo seconded the motion.

Minutes of 20 February 2024
The Chairperson took the Committee through the minutes, and invited the Members to make comments and corrections.

Members did not make any comments or corrections.

The Chairperson called for the adoption of the minutes.

Ms Shariff moved to adopt the minutes. Ms Masiko seconded the motion.

Minutes of 21 February 2024
The Chairperson took the Committee through the minutes and invited the members to make comments and corrections.

Members did not make any comments or corrections.

The Chairperson called for the adoption of the minutes.

Ms Sonti moved to adopt the minutes. Ms Makata seconded the motion.

Minutes of 27 February 2024
The Chairperson took the Committee through the minutes, and invited the Members to comment and make corrections.

Members did not make any comments or corrections.
The Chairperson called for the adoption of the minutes.

Ms Masondo moved to adopt the minutes. Ms Phiri seconded the motion.

The meeting was adjourned.

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