Ntombizodwa Matjila’s job requires her to deal with the harsh realities of society,
particularly that of sexual abuse, but at the same time, it also allows her to help protect vulnerable groups.
She is the Registrar of the National Register for Sexual Offences (NRSO), which is a record of all those found guilty of sexual offences against children and the mentally ill.
Her work helps ensure that convicted sexual offenders do not work with children and the mentally ill Protecting the vulnerable.
The NRSO is a unit located within the Promotion of the Rights of Vulnerable Groups at the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.
Giving vulnerable groups a voice Matjila says one of the unit’s objectives is to protect those who cannot protect themselves and don’t have a voice.
“We are trying to be that voice that can try to put an end to the scourge of sexual offences which is a societal problem,” she adds.
NRSO was established in 2009 as a result of the high number of sexual offences committed against children and the mentally ill in particular.
The register gives employers in the public or private sectors such as schools; crèches
and hospitals the right to check that the person being hired is fit to work with children or mentally disabled people.
According to Matjila, currently there are more than 25 000 convicted sexual offenders on the NRSO.
About 8 500 of these were convicted prior to the NSRO being established Protecting the vulnerable.
She adds that this number is extremely high and a cause for concern.
“This means that we have a problem in our society but at the same time by registering these sexual offenders,
it shows that the system is working and that people are getting convicted.”
Accessing the NRSO To protect the right to privacy of those on the registry,
only certain groups may apply to find out who is on the registry, Matjila explains.
Employers can apply to find out if those they intend hiring to work with children or the mentally ill are on the register,
while a person can also do so if this is a prerequisite of a potential employer.
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