Western Cape Government: End of 2014 school year

Minister Debbie Schafer

Western Cape Minister of Education

Note: the following statement includes Minister Schäfer’s highlights over the last six months, what to look forward to in 2015, security measures at schools over the holiday period, as well as holiday programmes for learners.

Today brings to a close the 2014 school year.

As the new Provincial Minister of Education, my first six months in office have been productive and exciting.

Highlights from my first six months in office include:

  • Announcing an unprecedented increase of 676 new teaching posts in the Western Cape. The additional  teaching posts for schools in 2015 is a testimony to how good management and planning can be applied to ensure that we achieve our overarching objective of providing a quality education to all the learners of the Western Cape, and a pleasant teaching environment for our teachers;
  • Celebrating excellence in teaching and honouring some of the outstanding educators who inspire and motivate our children every day at the fifteenth Annual Teaching Awards;
  • Launching the School Admissions Management Information (SAMI) which has and will assist the department, schools and parents in placing learners more effectively;
  • Launching the NGO database;
  • Launching the E catalogue inviting people with educational programmes to register so we can make available educational materials for our teachers and learners; and
  • Announcing that the 2014 NSC award criteria will include some new award categories that are in line with our strategic vision for the next five year period, categories that promote technical and IT skills.

I am looking forward to the many ‘first’ exciting and nerve-wracking experiences in 2015 that a new Minister can expect, such as my first release of matric results, the release of the systemic test results and the NSC Awards at the Premier’s residence in January.

Another important event that is taking place in 2015 is the national School Governing Body (SGB) elections. School Governing Bodies are essential partners in the combined effort in delivering quality education to the children of this province and it is therefore important that the WCED, as well as school communities, prepare well for the upcoming SGB elections, which are expected to take place in March 2015.

Parents, especially those with skills in financial management and law, should now start to consider making themselves available for their respective bodies if they feel they can contribute positively to their school.

In 2015, the WCED is committed to expanding e-learning and e-teaching as soon as possible and I am also looking forward to announcing a number of new exciting initiatives that the Western Cape Government have been working on to make education better, together in the Province.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all learners, educators, school administration staff, officials and their families a very happy, safe and well-deserved holiday.

I would also like to appeal to communities to be aware that the schools in their communities are vulnerable to burglary and vandalism during the holidays.

We remind all schools that have alarm systems to test their systems to ensure that they are in working order before they shut their schools.

In order to protect our schools, as far as possible, from burglary and vandalism over the holiday period, the WCED’s Safe Schools directorate has arranged increased security at some of our high risk identified schools.

448 schools will receive either overnight security or 24 hour security.

Schools are safest where local communities play an active role in helping to look after schools.

We also ask every community member to help their schools by participating in neighbourhood watches and reporting any suspicious behaviour in and around our schools immediately to the police.

The WCED Safe Schools has organised a holiday programme for all learners which will be launched on 11th December 2014 across all eight education districts in the Province.

Once again, a number of stakeholders have come on board to assist us with the various educational and fun activities. The programme includes various government departments, the City of Cape Town, Metro Police, SAPS, WECTAC; Help to Care SA, Imvume Yethu Trading CC, Working Ladies, African Skye, Pivotal and Catiza.

Educational Programmes on offer will cover important topics such as substance abuse, HIV/Aids, sexual abuse and teenage pregnancy seminars, workshops on conflict and drug abuse, peer pressure, leadership and communications courses, as well as debating and reading sessions. Fun and physical activities include swimming, indigenous games, dog shows, boat trips, soccer and rugby tournaments.

In 2015, teaching and learning will take place for 197 days – with the first school term beginning on the 21st of January and the last school day on the 9th of December 2015. Learners are expected to be at school for the full 197 days in accordance with the National Learner Attendance Policy, while educators are to be at school for 201 days of the year.

I would like to urge all parents who are travelling over the holiday period to ensure that their children are back in time and present on the first day of the school year.

In preparation for the new school year, we urge parents to note the following:

  • To consider uniform and stationery expenses for the 2015 school year.
  • Parents should buy return tickets in December for trips to areas far away from Cape Town. Learners are required to be at school on the first day of the school year.
  • Parents must plan ahead to pay school fees at schools that charge fees unless they intend applying for fee exemption.

In closing, I would like to wish all our educators, learners and staff a happy and safe holiday. Thank you for your support and dedication.

I look forward to what we can achieve in education 2015. I certainly look forward to my “first day of school” as Minister of Education on 21 January 2015.

Democratic Alliance Women’s Network (DAWN) launches rape rights DVD

Celeste Barker (MPL)

DAWN Provincial Chairperson

This is an extract of a speech delivered by Celeste Barker, MPL, at the launch of DAWN’s rape victims’ rights DVD in Port Elizabeth today.

Today, Human Rights Day, marks the closure of the international 16 Days of Activism Campaign against Gender Violence in South Africa.

As Eastern Cape DAWN has laboured to produce a “Rape Rights” DVD it is apt to mark the closure of this, the 16th 16 Days Campaign in South Africa, with the launch of a DVD that aims to give each DAWN member in our province the knowledge, skills and support she needs to protect her own rights and to defend the rights of all those who survive rape and gender violence.

It is no coincidence that Eastern Cape DAWN stands united in the fight to secure women’s rights on Human Rights today and every other day of every other year until every woman in our province is truly free, equal and safe!

DAWN has a constitutional and moral duty to speak out and break the silence and shame of all forms of violence against women.

This year we choose to do so with information because, as Carl Jung so accurately observed, “Knowledge is Power”. It is common knowledge that South Africa is the global rape capital of the world.  This means that 1 of every 3 women in this room has or will be raped and that a woman is raped at least every 6 minutes in this, our bloodstained, violent country.

It is also a fact that those who suffer the most in our province are rural black women. This group constitutes 65% of our provincial population. Its members are the most marginalized, neglected, under- or unemployed and impoverished group in the Eastern Cape.

Our Rape Rights DVD aims to equip EC DAWN members to support and protect the rights of rape survivors and battered women.

So, practical physical, medical and legal tips are provided in the Rape Rights DVD together with info on how to lay a charge, what to expect at a Police Station, which medicine to request to prevent unwanted pregnancy and rights to legal abortion and HIV testing at provincial hospitals.

Details of what to expect at court, in a medical examination and the emotional and psychological aftermath of rape are described with suggestions of how to prevent rape.

We undertake to train our DAWN Provincial EXCO to empower and support rape survivors and battered women.

As a Provincial collective of determined, outraged women we endorse Andy Kawa, Rape Crisis and FAMSA and repeat Kwanele nyani! Enough is enough! Genoeg is genoeg!

DAWN calls on our provincial government and all its departments to lead by example.

We will never accept “Sex for Jobs”, not under any circumstances.

DAWN believes the time has come for radical action!

We demand that rape is escalated to a crime of the same status as paedophilia in South Africa!

Let’s have a national data base of murderous, maiming rapists and protect our babies, girls and all the women of this province from being treated like cattle or pieces of meat.

Such commodification is no different from that which kidnaps and sells women and girls as we’ve seen with Boko Haram (BH) in the present and Saartjie Baartman’s total degradation to a living exhibition of sexual difference and otherness as an African woman in the past.

If the ANC–led government of this province and all its departments honestly commit to women’s rights and constitutional democracy then they should release the findings of all Commissions of Enquiry into “Sex for Jobs” today! Human Rights Day is surely the most appropriate opportunity for healing, redress and reconciliation.

So Eastern Cape DAWN calls for total transparency and public access to information regarding all “Sex for Jobs” scandals now – as we close the 2014 “16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence” campaign in our province.

If not forthcoming then all the sweet talk, the food parcels, quick repairs of roads and houses are empty promises blowing in the wind like Bob Dylan’s famous lyrics or the Biblical adage of “sound and fury signifying nothing”!

Eastern Cape DAWN demands a register of murderous rapists and open publication of all Commissions of Enquiry findings into the “Sex for Jobs” scandal.

Name and shame the men who rape, murder and mutilate our children, mothers and grandmothers.

Break the silence because “Women’s Rights are Human Rights!”

Western Cape Government to honour Sport Legends

Western Cape Ministry of Cultural Affairs and Sport

Tomorrow, 11 December 2014, Cultural Affairs and Sport Minister, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, will be honouring sportspeople in identified sport codes for the role they played in ensuring the promotion, growth, development and transformation of sport in their communities.

Those who will be honoured have become synonymous with sport in their communities, their province and their country. They are indeed our legends.

This year will be the 10th Sport Legends Awards and specific focus will made on the following sport codes: Athletics, Baseball, Boxing, Chess, Cricket, Deep Sea Angling/Ski Boat, Golf, Gymnastics, Judo, Kickboxing, Lawn Bowls, Masters Athletics, Masters swimming, Netball, Soccer, Softball, Table Tennis, Tennis and Wrestling.

Minister Mbombo will acknowledge the contribution made by the Nominees and bestow upon them the title of ‘Sport Legend.’

16 Days of Activism means nothing without Action

Mbali Ntuli, MPL

Member of the DA Caucus in the KZN Legislature

Today marks the end of 16 days of Activism – a period in which, given the statistics of abuse against women and children in this country, should be extended to a full 365 day programme.

These figures, released by our own police commissioner tell us that in KZN one in three of the women in this room have either been victims of or know somebody who has been physically abused. These statistics tell us that at least one in three of the women in this room will be raped.

KZN’s incidents of rape of the elderly and infant rape are shockingly high.  Yet, looking at our nation’s official programme of events for this period, one does not get the feeling that the government understands the urgency of this threat to our women and children.

Prayer services, vigils, film festivals and internal meetings which dominate the agenda do not make women in this country believe everything possible is being done to ensure their safety and severity – even during the very small number of days specifically dedicated to us.

How can we expect this nation and our province to prosper when so many of our women and children have to worry about their survival before dealing with the systemic difficulties of breaking down a patriarchal society.  The truth is we cannot. We cannot do it alone and so we need the people in this room to send a strong message to the women and children of KZN. That message needs to emphasize that we support them and we will do anything to make them feel safe. Then we need to back up these words with real actions.

The DA in KZN launched a campaign aimed at breaking the silence around abuse as part of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children, the purpose of which was to ensure that cases of abuse were brought to the attention of the relevant authorities.  This campaign formed part of the DA’s quest to stop the talk and start real action to end the cycle of abuse.

During our campaign it has become incredibly clear that the scourge of violence against women and children is so great that all political parties must put aside their differences and unite for an integrated strategy against it.

Violence and abuse towards women and children is the biggest indictment of our democracy. That so many women and children are still the most vulnerable and easiest targets for crime, poverty, inequality, poor education and a lack of any opportunities to better their lives is testament to a society that cannot possible succeed.

We all know the problems. We live in a patriarchal society which has placed women and children at the lowest rung of the country. Poverty, rape, crime, domestic abuse, poor education and misogyny are the main issues facing many women and children in KZN.

Not a week goes by without a horrific report of abuse towards women and children.  Whilst easy to condemn the perpetrators one needs to also take a closer look at how our own government and lack of safety and security contribute to exacerbating problems caused by social ills.

If government cannot guarantee that cases of abuse, such as this, will be treated with the utmost seriousness then it sends a message to abusers that they will not be punished and to victims that they have nowhere to turn.

Our country needs better institutions to deal with the abuse women and children have to endure.  Just yesterday Shrien Dewani went home a free man after the NPA, which has become an embattled political institution, failed to do its job properly.

Here in KZN we need more police trained to deal with issues of abuse.  We need more social workers especially in rural areas where women are most marginalised. We need to ensure that our vulnerable children, orphans and street children are taken in to more shelters.  We need dialogues happening in schools and community programs that all create awareness.  We also need to instil a culture where women and children are not afraid to report incidents of violence. Lastly we need swift and just action from our courts to ensure abusers are punished so that they are not allowed to destroy any more lives.

Violence against women and children is everybody’s problem. It will take an integrated strategy across government, communities, civil society and political parties to stop this scourge.

Unless real interventions are going to be made to curb the amount of Gender based violence, as evidenced by the hundreds of cases in KZN of women being killed by their partners or the scourge or rapes inflicted upon children and the elderly, we will be failing our mandate as leaders.

As a country and province we will be judged by our ability to ensure the safety and real freedom of those who are the most marginalised.

Let this 16 days of Activism be the last that is merely a talk shop.  Let us see shelters, rehabs, orphanages, opportunity centres and police improvement that are so desperately needed to really end violence against woman and children.

Finally,  if we truly want to ensure a legacy of a generation that will understand that violence against women and children is wrong, then it is up to the leaders in this room to reject any forms of culture that seek to perpetuate it such as ukuthwala.

In your homes bring up both your girls and boys to know they are valued in society. As young women we watch how our fathers treat our mothers and we watch how our mothers respond. This is how we learn what we are worth and how we should expect men to treat us.

If you do not make us believe we deserve better then you condemn us to life of expecting love to be shown through abuse. Often these lessons are couched in culture but that culture may just be killing our women and children. This country will not be free until its women are truly free.

The time is now. Our country’s future depends on it because no nation can succeed when half its population does not have real freedom.

Community Safety – KZN a province of unfilled promises

Dr Rishigen Viranna, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Community Safety

KZN communities are tired of the Department of Community Safety & Liaison’s reports and ongoing promises to lower crime levels in the province – many didn’t even know that November had been declared Safety Month.  In fact the provincial portfolio committee did not even know.

Community dissatisfaction is very clear from the response to the recently released crime statistics and the rise of vigilantism. People are fed up with high crime levels and are now demanding action from the MEC, his department and the South African Police Services.

Today I would like to enlighten this House on one community’s agonising wait for KZN’s ANC-led government to fulfil its promises. The communities of Silverglen, Croftdene and Montford in Chatsworth are under siege by criminals based in the Silverglen Nature Reserve. There have been innumerable murders, rapes, assaults and home burglaries with residents now living as prisoners in their own homes. Even a police officer was shot by criminals from inside the nature reserve.

The MEC is fully aware of this community’s circumstances as he visited the community at the Pinewood Primary School and the SAPS Chatsworth boardroom on 12 February 2014. During this meeting he lamented the effect crime is having on the school saying, ‘I have not come across that situation before. I do not know how they go about teaching in that environment.’

At the time, the MEC promised that a mounted police unit would be based in the nature reserve.  He also promised increased police ground patrols, additional security barriers around the nature reserve and for this issue to be discussed in the legislature.

Yet, ten months later the community is still waiting for action. This lack of action, however, is not new. Similar promises were made by Honourable Ravi Govender on 20 October 2012 and by MEC Ravi Pillay on 28 August 2013.  In 2013, the Department of Public Works even promised to assign R200 000 to build new stables for the promised mounted police unit. I have proof of these promises here.

This government has now become the government of unfulfilled promises when it regards keeping our people safe.

This is the story of one KZN community but it is by no means an isolated occurrence. One just has to look at the recently released crime statistics for KwaZulu-Natal. It shows that many communities have reason to fear for their safety and that the MEC should not try to water down the crime statistics.

Ten people are murdered every day in KZN.  There are a further 10 attempted murders per day. Every day, at least 32 women or children are victims of sexual crimes.  There are also 119 house burglaries and 24 hijackings that occur every day.  Levels of crime are at crisis levels and our communities have had enough.

It is an indictment against the ANC government that the challenges listed in the Intelligence Coordinating Committee Assessment on Social Stability in KZN all relate to government failures;

  • Localised political tensions. The current internal ANC regional leadership violence is now occurring on the streets. Every day we hear of gun battles or stabbings occurring from Lamontville and Cato Ridge to Richmond. The ruling party now cannot control their own members
  • Instability in the education sector due to government’s yearly mismanagement of NSFAS results in annual student rioting
  • Instability in labour due to strike violence, primarily by trade union affiliated to COSATU.

The government first needs to resolve its own internal problems and mismanagement before it can think of implementing an effective crime fighting strategy.

The DA does commend the MEC on his initiative to curb police deaths.  Every police death is one too many and we, as public representatives, must encourage all communities to work against this blight.

We must, however, look at the underlying causes of this. Yes, there is a definite criminal element. But there are the other contributory issues of severe staffing shortages and equipment and vehicle shortages within SAPS, confirmed by a recent National Assembly parliamentary answer.

A total of 50% of KZN police stations – primarily in rural areas and townships – do not meet the national norm of 184 police officers per 100 000 people.  These include Umkomaas, Ndwedwe, Plessislaer, Umsunduzi, Mpophomeni, Harding, uMlazi and Chatsworth. According to the Khayelitsha Commission, half of all KZN police stations are less resourced than Cape Town’s Khayelitsha Township, which has staffing of 190 police per 100 000.

The question must be asked – how can we expect the police to be an effective crime fighting mechanism when they face so many internal challenges?

It is in this light and as an effort to create an active, effective provincial police service, that the Democratic Alliance will resubmit a revised Community Safety Bill to the legislature early next year. This Bill will ensure a conducive relationship between the provincial police and people’s legislature. It will ensure amongst others:

  • The creation of a police Ombudsman
  • Mandatory reports by the Provincial Police Commissioner on service delivery encompassing staffing and vehicles; arrests, caseloads and convictions; and police deaths
  • Provide, build and improve upon relationships between communities and the police

The crime-burdened people of KZN live in hope that the ANC will move beyond party politics to ensure a safer province.  This bill will ensure that the KZN Community Safety department is converted from one known for its inaction to one renowned for action.

Implement solutions from the first day of school

Safiyia Stanfley, MPL

DA Provincial Spokesperson on Education

It is absolutely shocking that 92% of grade 9 learners cannot get more than 30% for Mathematics. The Northern Cape’s Annual National Assessment results show that serious intervention is needed to improve the quality of education in the province.

The ANA results should be used by the provincial department as a diagnostic tool. It should be used to identify problems and then to implement solutions. Solutions cannot just be plans on paper; it must be actively carried out throughout the province. Schools who achieve low marks should not be victimised, but assisted to improve. The purpose of ANAs are not to make a teacher or learner feel inferior, but to highlight gaps in the system which must then be addressed by the department. Solutions must be implemented from the first day of each school year. It cannot wait until the third quarter or until results are released.

The provincial department should look at continuous support for both teacher and learner. Training and mentoring for teachers should be prioritised, so that we have enough teachers who can teach Mathematics in a simple, effective way. It is incredibly worrying that less than 3% of grade 9 learners in the province could achieve more than 50% for Mathematics.

It is welcome to note that the province has achieved the highest average for grade 9 first additional language in the country. It should serve as motivation for the department and for teachers to improve the results in 2015.

DA to refer management of medical waste to SAHRC

Andrew Louw, MPL

DA Provincial Leader

The Democratic Alliance welcomes the action taken by AfriForum in raising awareness about the unhygienic conditions at the Kuruman Hospital. We call on the department of Health to take the necessary action to ensure the proper management of medical waste at all health facilities throughout the province. It is not enough for the department to say it will undertake an investigation; immediate action is needed to improve the management of medical waste in the province.

It seems that the department has not yet learned from its previous mismanagement of medical waste. In the past three years, investigations have uncovered medical waste being dumped in Wrenchville, Kuruman, Kimberley and Daniëlskuil. The warehouse in Kimberley, for example, contained the rotting body parts and placentas collected from state hospitals and clinics throughout the province.

The improper disposal of medical waste poses a serious risk to the health of humans and animals.

We will be pursuing the matter to ensure that the MEC for Health is held accountable for his department’s horrifying failure to handle medical waste properly. The mismanagement of medical waste seems to have started with the awarding of the contract to Tshenolo Resources.

We will scrutinise the department’s contract management on medical waste and we will take the necessary steps to see that the situation is rectified.

Due to the seriousness of the matter, we will be reporting it to the South African Human Rights Commission for a thorough investigation. We believe that the rights of Northern Cape residents to a healthy environment is being violated.

Why has Gauteng health official been suspended?

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC

In typical fashion, the Gauteng Health Department refuses to give details why it has suspended Mr Abey Marokoane, Chief Director of Risk management and internal Control.

According to Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu, he was suspended after police notified the department of an investigation into alleged misconduct.

Marokoane is currently out on bail after being arrested on November 27 and appearing in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in Pretoria the next day.

It appears that he is being charged with alleged corruption relating to hospital security contracts in the West Rand. The West Rand Security Forum says that one company was awarded a tender to provide services to five hospitals and three people from the same family were awarded contracts for 10 hospitals.

I suspect more corruption in the awarding of hospital security contracts this year worth R265 million, and have submitted an application under the Promotion of Access to Information Act for details about the award process.

We still do not know why the department’s Chief Financial Officer Ndoda Biyela.was suspended in August this year.

The suspension of yet another senior official shows that the corruption rot continues at this department.

The department should tell us why officials have been suspended and ensure that discipline is speeded up so that money is not wasted by paying them during this process.

Well wishes for the people of Limpopo-DA

As the year draws to an end, the Democratic Alliance in Limpopo wishes all the people of this province a happy Christmas and a prosperous new year.

This year was characterized by a number of significant events, yet the most remarkable was the vote of confidence in the DA by hundreds of thousands of people in Limpopo during the national elections in May.

2015 promises to be a year that the DA will relentlessly pursue transparency and accountability in government to ensure the creation of an open opportunity society for all.

The DA calls that this festive season be themed as “We celebrate together”.

It remains important that we not only celebrate this period with our families but include the less privileged and most vulnerable in our communities.

The DA encourages calm driving and tolerance amongst motorists.

We would like to remind all residents and visitors to not drink and drive and to arrive home safely.

Why has Gauteng health official been suspended?

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

In typical fashion, the Gauteng Health Department refuses to give details why it has suspended Mr Abey Marokoane, Chief Director of Risk management and internal Control.

According to Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu, he was suspended after police notified the department of an investigation into alleged misconduct.

Marokoane is currently out on bail after being arrested on November 27 and appearing in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in Pretoria the next day.

It appears that he is being charged with alleged corruption relating to hospital security contracts in the West Rand.

The West Rand Security Forum says that one company was awarded a tender to provide services to five hospitals and three people from the same family were awarded contracts for 10 hospitals.

I suspect more corruption in the awarding of hospital security contracts this year worth R265 million, and have submitted an application under the Promotion of Access to Information Act for details about the award process.

We still do not know why the department’s Chief Financial Officer Ndoda Biyela was suspended in August this year.

The suspension of yet another senior official shows that the corruption rot continues at this department.

The department should tell us why officials have been suspended and ensure that discipline is speeded up so that money is not wasted by paying them during this process.