The Cape Conference of South Africa is investigating allegations that include but are not limited to rape of a student by a staff member on the Bethel College High School campus. The Conference has also reported the allegation to the local authorities. While the investigation is underway, a staff member has been placed on “precautionary suspension” and is not allowed on the school campus nor allowed to make contact with students or staff.
News of the Conference action was sent to the constituency in a letter from the Conference Executive Secretary on February 19, a day after the Education Secretary of the South African Union Conference said, “Rumours being circulated regarding sexual molestation at Bethel College, which originated from an online news service, HotNews.org.za, have been under investigation by the Cape Conference. Initial information suggests that the reports are false.” He also said that the SAU legal representative was assisting in the process.
Apparently, there was more to the story than he knew. According to the letter from the Cape Conference Executive Secretary, “On Tuesday 12 February 2019, Bethel College High School Management became aware of allegations of sexual misconduct, which includes (but not limited to) rape. Allegations that the Bethel College High school Management did not respond appropriately when sexual misconduct was reported, were also received.”
The SDA Church has a Vulnerable Persons Abuse Prevention Policy, the conference letter said, that mandates reporting of incidents of child sexual abuse to the South African Police Services, and stipulates a process for also reporting the matter to a social worker and informing the Cape Conference leadership.
Executive Secretary DP Potgieter implored individuals to allow the investigation to run its course, and for anyone having additional information to bring it to the conference to assist in the investigation rather than posting it on social media.
“Furthermore, the Cape Conference deeply regrets this unfortunate situation and condemns it in the strongest terms. The Cape Conference supports the legal and social services in their handling of this matter.
“Our hearts go out to all those affected by these allegations. We will give our support to them as far as possible.”
Bonnie Dwyer is editor of Spectrum.
Image courtesy of Bethel College High School
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