A former Grassy Park High School teacher has been dismissed for allegedly suggesting by innuendo that a learner watch out not to touch his genitals after taking her money and instructing her to remove it from his pocket.
According to the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC), the teacher's conduct constituted misconduct of a sexual nature.
Commissioner Jacques Buitendag ordered that the Department of Social Development be notified of the verdict and enter his name in their register as he was unsuitable to work with children.
The teacher, with more than 21 years’ experience, faced six charges but was found guilty of one.
He acknowledged that he understood the allegation levelled against him and pleaded not guilty.
A 14-year-old pupil identified as ‘Learner A’ testified that the teacher saw her hugging a friend before entering his class and that he then asked her for a hug which made her feel uncomfortable.
She further testified that another learner came to the class to give her money but the teacher took it and put it in his pocket.
He allegedly then told her to take the money out but to remember “there is a hole in my pocket”.
This would mean that she could have touched his private parts if she did what he asked.
The learner said this was inappropriate and she felt uncomfortable.
Another pupil testified that she was in class when the teacher told the girl to remove the money but watch out for the hole in his pocket.
A third learner said the teacher acted inappropriately and meant that the pupil must be careful not to not touch his private parts.
The teacher testified that he was new at the school and wanted to build rapport with the learners.
He denied that he put the money in his pocket or that he instructed her to remove it from his pocket and claimed he had the money in his hand, gestured to his pocket and said that he has a hole in his pocket.
The teacher said he handed the learner her money when she approached him.
Commissioner Buitendag said the learner’s testimonies were consistent however the teacher changed his version of events three times.
“My conclusion is that he changed his version because he knew that his conduct was unacceptable. To invite a young female leaner, in front of her peers, to take money from his pocket and warning her that there is a hole in his pocket suggested by innuendo that she must watch out not to touch his genitals. His conduct was inappropriate, disgraceful, unacceptable and it constitutes misconduct of sexual nature,” said Buitendag.
WCED spokesperson Millicent Merton said the teacher was informed on Tuesday about his dismissal and to date has not indicated that the outcome will be challenged.