Paedophile Dennis Stewart, a former Durban teacher, has been sentenced by a Melbourne court to 27 months in jail for committing sex acts with children as young as 12.

Stewart, 50, who emigrated to Australia in 1999,

had pleaded guilty last week when he appeared at the County Court in connection with four offences committed in 2010 and 2011.

Judge Richard Maidment jailed Stewart on Monday for two years and three months, with a minimum of 18 months to be served.

Stewart is expected to face more charges in New South Wales.

Police have said he will be extradited once he completed his sentence.

His sentence, perceived to be lenient, has drawn sharp reaction in South Africa, with KwaZulu-Natal Childline head, Linda Naidoo, describing it as “ridiculous”.

“It must have taken a lot for those boys to have disclosed what happened to them. The abuse would have had an emotional and physical impact on them,” she said.

Naidoo said they would probably be scarred for life.

“Knowing this man could walk free in under two years, cannot be easy for them.”

Last week the Daily News reported on a Durban teacher who sounded the alarm on Stewart 21 years ago.

Before he emigrated, Stewart had taught at Glenmore and Atholton primary schools in Durban.

The whistle-blower said that Stewart’s unusual closeness to young boys at the school prompted her to report her suspicions to Childline in 1992.

She said he had gained the confidence of the young boys by buying them expensive gifts and inviting them to his eMdloti (Umdloti) flat for sleepovers.