File picture: African News Agency (ANA)
File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Father slams handling of sexual harassment allegations at Sans Souci Girls’ High

By Odwa Mkentane Time of article published Feb 26, 2021

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Cape Town – The father of a pupil at Sans Souci Girls’ High school has slammed the institution over their handling of allegations of sexual advances made by a male teacher toward his daughter.

The school came under fire this week after pupils handed over a list of grievances to management regarding allegations of sexual harassment, body shaming and a dictatorial system.

The parent told the Cape Times yesterday that he had approached the school principal, Ruschda O’Shea, about the allegations.

“Subsequent to laying the complaint, I held a meeting with the principal, chairperson of the SGB, grade head and a teacher, who was introduced as a counsellor at the school.

“My daughter was requested to submit a written statement on the incident, which she did. We were assured by the SGB chairperson that an investigation would be undertaken.

’’After a substantial amount of time had passed without hearing from the school on the matter, I wrote to the principal expressing my dissatisfaction at their complete silence.

“It is only then that I received a correspondence from them stating that they had conducted an inquiry on the matter and that they had decided to conduct a further inquiry on the matter in the presence of myself and my daughter for the sake of transparency; and thus they would be in contact with me. This correspondence was sent to me on February 20, 2020.

“I am still waiting to hear from them. In the meantime, my daughter has had to go to school and face this man daily,” the father said.

He added that there was no truth in saying that the school or department had been in contact with him in this regard.

“I have never seen any report pertaining to the purported investigation by the SGB Board,” he said, adding that the principal displayed a “glaring unco-operative posture” when they laid the complaint.

He said he further had to collect his daughter from school after she was allegedly body shamed for what she was wearing.

“I am nonetheless not surprised at the stance taken by the WCED (Western Cape Education Department) as that is always their posture when it comes to the African child.

’’Their statement and approach on this matter is a manifestation of the racially biased way things are dealt with. Shame on the WCED for trivialising a serious issue like this.”

WCED spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said the department had noted the comments made by the parent but that it was not made aware of these allegations before the media report.

“The school day resumed as per normal today with no disruptions,” said Hammond.

She did not say whether the allegations would be further investigated.

A learner at the school, who asked not to be named out of fear for victimisation, said allegations of harassment by teachers were swept under the carpet.

“The principal knows that there have been sexual harassment cases reported at the school. If you try to make a follow-up they will ignore you. Nothing has been investigated.

’’The memorandum we handed to the principal. We know that she won't address the issue but we had to stand for ourselves because no one will if we don't.”

EFF provincial spokesperson Wandile Kasibe called for the WCED to be investigated for failing to source the facts from all sides to make a proper determination on the matter.

“(We) condemn the failure by the school to deal effectively with issues of sexual harassment and other related matters within its premises.

“We call for the teacher who body shamed and made sexual advances on the learner/s to be suspended pending the outcome of the investigation. We also call on the unco-operative principal of the school and the SGB to be investigated for what seems to be a cover up for the teacher/s and delay tactics.”

“It cannot be that our black children continue to be victims of these sexual predators and racists who use school protocols as walls behind which they continue to violate the dignity of our children,” said Kasibe.

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Cape Times

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