Cape Town - The number of sexual misconduct cases reported against school teachers has more than doubled from the 92 recorded in the 2019/20 financial year, Department of Basic Education (DBE) Minister Angie Motshekga told MPs.
While the sexual misconduct cases reported for 2021/22 rose to 191 – from the 92 recorded in 2020 – only 23 of the 191 cases culminated in hearings.
And the number of closed cases has grown exponentially.
Motshekga based her responses on complaints reported to the SA Council of Educators (Sace).
Sace spokesperson Risuna Nkuna had not responded by deadline.
DA MP Désirée van der Walt quizzed Matshekga on the number of cases of sexual misconduct reported to Sace from 2019 to 2022; the number of disciplinary proceedings instituted against the teachers; educators found guilty; the number of disciplinary proceedings where Sace was unable to reach an outcome; the number of teachers struck off the roll; and, reasons why Sace was unable to make rulings at disciplinary proceedings.
Van der Walt also queried Motshekga about whether all teachers struck off the roll had been reported to the Department of Social Development (DSD) for inclusion on the register of people unfit to work with children.
Motshekga said Sace had received 92 complaints of sexual misconduct in 2019/20; 169 in 2020/21 and 191 in 2021/22.
She said only 23 disciplinary hearings were conducted against educators for sexual misconduct in 2021/22.
Molo Songololo director Patric Solomons said child sexual abuse, sexual assault, rape and sexual exploitation was a huge problem, which manifested itself in various ways.
He said some teachers exploited pupils “entrusted to their care”.
“Molo Songololo is very concerned at the increased number of educators reported for ‘sexual misconduct’ as reported by (Motshekga) for the period of 2021/2022,” Solomons said.
Motshekga said the same information for the period from 2019 to 2021 wasn’t readily available.
She said 17 teachers were found guilty of sexual abuse in 2019/20; seven in 2020/21; and 19 in 2021/22.
Motshekga said 19 teachers were indefinitely struck off the roll from 2019 to 2022 – with 17 of those on charges of sexual abuse, and two of severe assault.
Sace struck 11 teachers from its roll in 2020/21 – seven for sexual abuse; one for gross negligence; one for assault of a colleague and two for severe assaults on pupils.
Three teachers were indefinitely struck off the roll in 2021/22 for “sexual relationships”, while one teacher was removed from the Sace register for a specified period for sexual assault of a pupil, according to Motshekga.
Ten teachers’ names were submitted to the DSD for inclusion on the register for people deemed unfit to work with children in 2019/20, while 11 and 19 were submitted to the department for 2020/21 and 2021/22 respectively, Motshekga said.
She said although there were no cases without conclusive decisions, there were sexual abuse cases that were closed for a lack of evidence, the “deliberate unavailability” of complainants and a refusal by witnesses to co-operate with Sace investigations or disciplinary processes.
Motshekga put cases which Sace closed due to amicable resolution between the parties, or at the request of the complainants, and/or owing to lack of evidence or owing to deliberate lack of co-operation by witnesses, at 224 in 2019/20, 116 in 2020/21 and 310 in 2021/22.
Solomons said: “The DBE and schools have a responsibility to prevent and combat sexual misconduct, child sexual offences by educators and support staff. They must be held accountable.
“Learners and parents must… demand that appropriate measures and procedures to prevent and deal with sex predators in schools and remove barriers that impact negatively on reporting, investigation and prosecution.”