Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund calls for immediate ousting of Western Cape municipal mayor and his deputy
The appointment of the Western Cape’s newly elected municipal mayor and convicted child rapist, Jeffrey Donson, further points at the gaps in the South African legislation and sends a scathing message of our country’s complicity in perpetuating violence against children and women.
The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (the Fund) therefore joins the calls for the immediate removal of Donson and his deputy, Werner Meshoa.
Donson was reportedly convicted of statutory rape while he was mayor of Kannaland in 2008, while Meshoa, a convicted fraudster, lost his job as a teacher after being found guilty of sexual misconduct with a pupil.
The Fund calls for the re-listing of Donson and Meshoa on the Sex Offenders list and for the strengthening of legislation to protect children from sexual predators holding public office.
The CEO of the Fund, Konehali Gugushe, says that it is perturbing that Donson and Meshoa were even allowed to stand for public office again. “This shows a loophole in our country’s legislation and promotes the protection of convicted perpetrators over that of children and women at the receiving end of the sexual assault.”
Gugushe continues, “As a country known as the rape capital of the world and where cases of rape, abuse and sexual assault, among others, remain underreported, South Africa should stand firm against perpetuating fears that the justice system favours perpetrators. Donson and Meshoa both demonstrate that these fears are valid. We cannot afford to send this message to vulnerable women and children.”
On Thursday, 18 November 2021, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (the Fund) hosted a webinar to discuss gaps related to the Children’s Amendment Bill.
The discussion revealed gaps in the legislation informed by the Fund’s oral and written submissions to parliament last year.
The Chief Programmes Officer at the Fund, Dr Stanley Maphosa says that in its submission, the Fund had called for measures to improve the efficacy of the National Child Protection register. “This is a significant step in ensuring that child abuse perpetrators will be precluded from assuming positions in public office or environments where children are potentially exposed to their presence. Furthermore, it will ensure that names of child sex offenders are never removed from the list, to ensure proper screening of individuals to promote the safety of children,” says Maphosa.
Maphosa adds, “There is also a need to ensure that legislation is not far removed from implementation on the ground which is often the case and an issue that was raised by children the Fund had engaged on matters related to gaps in the Children’s Amendment Bill.”
In addition, the Fund strongly condemns the comments of provincial chairperson, David Kamfer, from the Independent Civic Organisation of South Africa (Icosa)’s, the party of the two convicts, who was quoted in the media defending Donson by stating that he had no knowledge of the minor’s age and assumed that she was of legal age at the time.
In response, Maphosa says, “This argument is highly dangerous, legally indefensible and as such, individuals should refrain from using it as justification.”
Gugushe says that inaction in the removal of Donson and Meshoa would be an indictment on South African society. “Abuse against children does not occur in isolation. It occurs when communities do nothing, when perpetrators are allowed to take advantage of the justice system and when we all act as spectators. As media coverage around this issue dwindles, and as the justice system goes unchallenged, we should all be aware of the hand we play in retaining the violent status of our country.”
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