- Regulations around protocols for children arriving at school without a mask have been amended.
- Principals, or owners or managers of early childhood development centres must take all reasonable steps to provide cloth masks.
- Failing that, parents or caregivers must be contacted while the child is isolated, or safe transport arranged before going home.
In new regulations published this week, schools and parents will have to take extra measures to ensure children who arrive without masks are safe.
This follows an incident last week in which a Grade 7 pupil in KwaZulu-Natal was raped after going back home to fetch her face mask.
New regulations published by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on Sunday covered a variety of sectors.
There are now also guidelines on what to do if school children arrive at school without a mask.
The principal of a school, or owner or manager of an early childhood development centre, must take all reasonable steps to ensure the relevant authority supplies the institution with sufficient cloth face masks, homemade items, or other appropriate items that cover the nose and mouth of children who may not have one.
"Should a learner arrive at school or early childhood development centre without a cloth face mask, homemade item, or another appropriate item that covers the nose and mouth, the learner may be provided with an appropriate item that covers the nose and mouth, if possible," the regulations said.
"Or if the school or early childhood development centre cannot provide such learner with an appropriate item that covers the nose and mouth, such learner must be isolated and his or her parent, guardian or caregiver must be contacted, without delay."
The parent, guardian or caregiver then either has to bring the pupil the appropriate item or safe transport has to be arranged to take the pupil home.
The principal, or owner or manager of an early childhood development centre, who fails to take reasonable steps to ensure compliance, could be held liable for a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months, or to both.
This comes after a 12-year-old girl was raped by a 17-year-old in Mahohoho in Donnybrook after she was turned back from the screening point at her school because she did not have her mask.
She returned home to fetch her mask and, on returning, informed the school she had been raped.
The 17-year-old was arrested and charged with rape.
Reacting to the news, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said the rape was a heinous crime committed against a defenceless and innocent child.
She called for an end to gender-based violence.
"This rape of a learner once again shines the light on the scourge of gender-based violence ripping our communities apart," she said in a statement on Wednesday.
The education department said it will ensure that the learner, who is a minor, receives the necessary psycho-social support from the District Auxiliary Support Services.