Cope suspends man over sex

2009-01-07 00:00

Cape Town — The Congress of the People (Cope) moved swiftly overnight to suspend one of its members in Beaufort West for allegedly abusing young girls, following the airing on Tuesday night of a feature by current affairs programme Special Assignment.

The SABC 3 programme showed how Cope member and social grant officer in the Beaufort West municipality, Terry Oliphant, made videos of himself having sex with under-aged girls, including a 15-year-old teen. According to Special Assignment, one of the girls laid a charge of statutory rape against Oliphant. However, he did not lose his job at the Social Security Agency.

Oliphant allegedly committed the offences three years ago whilst a member of the African National Congress.

In a statement yesterday, Cope’s Palesa Morudu said Oliphant had been suspended with immediate effect. “This is despicable and undermines the integrity of women,” Morudu said.

She said Cope is shocked by the Special Assignment report. “Cope views Oliphant’s alleged conduct as depicted in the report as abhorrent, reprehensive and a crude abuse of power.

“Women and young girls fall victim to such behaviour, particularly in rural towns experiencing economic distress such as Beaufort West. There can never be any excuse for such blatant emotional and sexual abuse of women.”

Morudu said it is regrettable that Special Assignment ran a “sensational promo” effectively linking Cope to the alleged sexual crimes without affording them an opportunity for comment.

She said besides Oliphant’s immediate suspension, Cope will institute a disciplinary process.

“Women’s emancipation and moral integrity are strong pillars of our party and we will have no tolerance for any of our members who go against these values.”

Morudu said the criminal justice system in Beaufort West must proceed with speed and efficiency in dealing with the case. “If it is indeed true that this case has taken three years to be heard in court, it is a totally unacceptable situation. Cope has also instructed its regional office to assist the families of the alleged victims to make sure that the criminal justice system doesn’t fail them in bringing finality to this case,” she said.

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