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Johannesburg - Forty-five percent of teachers found guilty of sexual misconduct against pupils have been allowed to continue teaching.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga revealed this on Thursday in an oral reply to a parliamentary question by the DA.
The Star reported on Thursday that three teachers from Phahama Senior Secondary School in Mohlakeng near Randfontein on the West Rand had been suspended for allegedly having sexual relationships with pupils at the school.
It was also reported that at least 126 cases of sexual misconduct, which included rape, were reported last year - up from 78 the previous year.
On Thursday, Motshekga said 136 teachers were found guilty of sexual abuse-related cases between 2009 and last year.
Of this figure, only 62 had been struck off the teachers’ register.
The sentences of the rest were suspended for a certain period on condition that they were not found guilty of misconduct in the period.
Motshekga said 153 complaints - more than a half of the 289 complaints received in the same period - had not been finalised.
Most of the outstanding cases were for the 2009/2010 and 2010/11 periods, at 32 percent and 55 percent respectively.
The DA has blamed the SA Council for Educators, the primary statutory body tasked with ensuring accountability and good ethical practice among educators.
The result of the inaction was that 45 percent of teachers found guilty of sexual misconduct “are permitted to teach our children until they sexually abuse or engage in an inappropriate sexual relationship with another learner. This is simply unacceptable”, said Annette More, the DA’s education spokeswoman.
She said this showed the government was “clearly not taking the scourge of sexual violence and the welfare of our children seriously”.
More added: “Teachers involved in sexual assault or inappropriate relations with pupils must be prevented from stepping into a classroom again. This is not negotiable.”
In terms of section 17 of the Employment of Educators Act, a teacher had to be dismissed for committing sexual assault against a pupil or having a sexual relationship with a pupil of the school in which he or she teaches.