The Western Cape Education Department’s (WCED) labour directorate will conduct its own investigation after a 43-year-old teacher appeared in the Mossel Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, facing 19 charges including sexual grooming of children, sexual assault, rape, exposing children to pornography, and using a child to procure child pornography.
National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said the Grade 7 teacher was arrested on September 20, and made his first court appearance two days later.
“His bail application was rolled over to (yesterday). The State intends to oppose his Schedule 6 bail application where he is expected to show the court that it is in the interests of justice for him to be released on bail.
“The victims were learners in his class. His name cannot be published/ mentioned to the media as he has not yet pleaded,” Ntabazalila said.
WCED spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said the allegations were “extremely concerning and serious”.
“The WCED labour directorate has been informed and is to conduct an investigation. Contact is being made with the alleged victim(s). The department reports all cases of sexual misconduct to the SAPS and the SA Council of Educators (Sace) if there is an educator involved. We also then note them on Persal, the national register of public servants,” she said.
Hammond said sexual harassment, sexual assault, and all other forms of abuse were not tolerated.
The National Professional Teachers' Organisation of SA (Naptosa) called for teachers who were found guilty of any act of sexual violence against children or colleagues to be struck from the roll by Sace and be “named and shamed” in the Sexual Offenders Register.
Naptosa provincial spokesperson David Millar said the union took a “very dim view” of any teacher who committed sexual misconduct.
“Teachers have a duty of care towards their children. In addition, teachers are governed by a professional code of ethics.
“Children, and their parents, must see schools as safe places and schools must ensure that safeguarding measures are watertight so that no child suffers at the hands of sexual predators,” he said.
Director of Molo Songololo, Patric Solomons, said sexual abuse in schools was an ongoing problem.
“The educators are custodians of learners and they are trusted to execute that duty diligently. It is a shame when that relationship is broken and those lines are blurred and skewed by the very same adults that are put on such a high pedestal. It is common nowadays that we have educators who view young children as victims. Educators don’t have the licence to engage in sexual relationships with children.
Those cases must be reported and investigations must be undertaken, they have to be taken out of the classrooms because they are not fit to be role models for students. Schools have to have good policies to address this,” Solomons said.