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Academics urge Pandor to launch sex offences inquiry against staff, students

The group has written an open letter to Higher Education Minister Naledi Pandor demanding that she should institute a register of offenders to avoid perpetrators from being employed elsewhere in the sector.

FILE: Higher Education Minister Naledi Pandor briefs the Press on discussions from the ANC NPC. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - A group of academics from different higher learning institutions have urged government to launch a special enquiry into sexual offences meted against staff and students.

The group said sexual offences have become normalised in higher education affecting black women employees who are pressured to exchange sex for jobs.

The academics who describe themselves as a collective of black women and gender non-binary people said students are also vulnerable to the abuse.

The group has written an open letter to Higher Education Minister Naledi Pandor demanding that she should institute a register of offenders to avoid perpetrators from being employed elsewhere in the sector.

The academics said most staff members affected by the scourge of sexual offences depend on their abusers for their short-term contracts to be renewed, putting them in a vulnerable position.

Dr Siphokazi Magadla a co-signatory to the letter said: “The single institution approach is clearly not successful. We need the sector to make a strong response around questions of sexual violence and offences.”

Magadla said they are aware that their complaint is not unique to academia but they still hope that the department will be proactive in addressing this problem.

“We need Minister Pandor to institute an investigation that is able to tell us about the state and scope of sexual offences in higher education overall.

Students in South African universities such as Rhodes, Wits University and the University of Cape Town have taken to the streets in the past few years in protest of rape culture.