Bloemfontein - Free State MEC for Social Development, Sisi Ntombela, has condemned the rape of a 13-year-old girl, allegedly by her school teacher.
It is alleged that the grade six girl, who is attending a farm school near Orangeville in Metsimaholo, was lured by her teacher to his house on Sunday, under the pretext that she should bring him an English textbook.
The suspect appeared in court on Tuesday, but his case was postponed until 26 May, for a bail hearing. The accused is in custody until the date of the hearing.
"We must not only condemn the uncivilised acts of brutality against children, but ensure that the perpetrators of these acts are brought to face the full might of the law.
"This horrible incident is taking place while we are busy working on our Child Protection Awareness Campaigns towards Child Protection Week, which starts on 25 May to 1 June 2009, when we will be celebrating the International Day of Children," MEC Ntombela said on Tuesday.
She urged members of the public, including families, and non-governmental organisations to report incidents of abuse and to demonstrate values of a child friendly society.
"I urge you to report any suspicion or incidents of child abuse, neglect, child poverty, child labour, the use of children as sex slaves, prostitutes, as well as the use of children as drug smugglers.
"Our children deserve better, they must be afforded the opportunity of decent living and decent education in crSches and schools," she said.
She added that the department hoped the police will do all they can to ensure the successful prosecution of the alleged perpetrator and his successful conviction.
"The sentence we are hoping for is a maximum one to ensure that the right message is sent to all who may be intending to commit such uncivilised acts that they too will face the full might of the law.
"They must be taught that our society has no place for people like them," MEC Ntombela said.
She said the department will offer counselling to the victim and her family to deal with the trauma to enable them to move forward.
Meanwhile, five teachers from Makhumbuza High School in the south of Durban were suspended by the KwaZulu-Natal Education Department after learners laid charges of statutory rape against them.
The teachers were accused of having intercourse with under-age pupils in exchange for money and alcohol, in the school's science laboratory.
Department spokesperson Mbali Thusi said an independent prosecution team has been set up by the department to act on the findings and recommendations of the preliminary investigation.
"We are keen on finalising this case speedily as we need to put the interests of the concerned learners first.
"I am confident that the independent prosecution team will carry out the task at hand with utmost integrity and within the ambit of the law in concluding this case, which has tainted the teaching profession and created a huge embarrassment to the department as a whole," Ms Thusi said on Tuesday.