DA calls for answers in sex offender case

Brian Shofer, 58, committed suicide recently.

The DA wants clarity on the National Register of Sex Offenders (NRSO) following the case of sex offender Brian Shofer, 58, who committed suicide recently.

Shofer, who had been teaching at Lourier Primary School in Retreat up until last term, made headlines when he was arrested for rape at his London Village home two weeks ago. (“Sex predator in the class,” Plainsman, Wednesday August 3).

Lorraine Botha, the DA Western Cape spokeswoman on community development said the DA was concerned that despite having two offences on record, Shofer could have easily offended again as parents had no way of knowing about the previous offences.

“A twice-convicted child sex predator has successfully advertised himself online as a tutor for children between Grades 2 and 11. This raises questions about the efficiency of the NRSO in deterring child-sex offences.

“The NRSO lists the names of those found guilty of sexual offences against children and the mentally disabled. However, it is not open to the public, and there is uncertainty about the regularity with which the list is updated,” she said.

Ms Botha said Social Development MEC Albert Fritz had noted that his department had no access to the register and he had called for transparency in this regard.

“I will therefore also ask that the national Department of Social Development submit a report to the committee which must detail the number of sex offenders that are listed on the NRSO for the Western Cape and over what period these offenders were added to the list, as well as a record of the number of instances of potential sexual offences against children that have been prevented by means of the NRSO,” she said.

When Plainsman asked the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) what steps it had taken to close the loophole that had led to a school governing body (SGB) inadvertently hiring a paedophile, spokeswoman Millicent Merton said MEC Debbie Schäfer had met WCED officials on Monday August 1 to discuss an SGB hiring policy.

“It was agreed that such a policy is necessary for all SGB posts, which include relief, substitute and contract teachers. The draft policy will be discussed with relevant role-players,” said Ms Merton.

“We are well aware that legislation already prescribes what has to be done when employing staff, whether by the department or an SGB. We will have to work with governing body associations on how to ensure compliance and how to hold SGBs to account, given the legal independence of SGBs,” she said.