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The small community of Hornlee on the outskirts of Knysna was in shock on Friday following the arrest of a teacher who is alleged to have sexually assaulted a 12-year-old girl.
The man, who appeared in court on Friday, was arrested after the mother of the girl laid a complaint. He was remanded in custody, and a formal bail application will be heard on Thursday.
The alleged assault occurred at Fraaisig Primary, in one of the offices, during school hours on Monday. It is alleged the victim and another pupil were helping the man with sending letters to the parents. When the other pupil left, the suspect allegedly closed the door and molested the girl.
“The principal of the school caught him red-handed and disclosed the information to the victim’s mom, who laid a charge of sexual assault,” said Southern Cape police spokesman Malcolm Pojie.
Residents revealed that the man was considered an upstanding member of the community.
“Kids are supposed to look up to someone like that. He must be punished. You can’t do that to a kid,” said one man. “It is vuil (disgusting).”
“It is a very good school. I am shocked,” he said.
Women and Men Against Child Abuse spokeswoman Germaine Vogel called for schools to introduce a screening process for employees.
“We don’t know whether this man has a history of doing things like this, but certainly school teachers need to be screened to make sure they don’t exhibit this kind of behaviour,” she said.
Knysna mayor Georlene Wolmarans expressed her shock at the news.