The KZN Education MEC's spokesperson said there were three separate incidents of rape and attempted rape, allegedly by a school principal, teacher and security guard respectively, which police were investigating. File picture: Rogan Ward/Reuters
Durban - The South African Council for Educators (Sace) is expected to dispatch its officials to Esikhaleni (Empangeni), in the King Cetshwayo district, to investigate alleged acts of sexual assault by teachers on pupils.

This comes after the decision by the provincial Department of Education on Tuesday to suspended six teachers accused of sexual offences against pupils at five different schools in this district.

The seventh alleged offender, a security guard at one of the schools, faces a charge of attempted rape after he allegedly tried to rape a pupil. He has since left the school.

The district manager reported these cases to the department. The cases are also being investigated by the police.

Department spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said the department suspended the teachers pending the outcome of internal investigations and the criminal cases.

Sace spokesperson Themba Ndhlovu on Tuesday said although the council posed stricter punishment on teachers found guilty of sexual offences, and other abuse against children such as corporal punishment, it seemed as if the problem was not being effectively remedied.

“We will be conducting our own investigation in that district in order to find solutions to the problem. We want to establish why there were so many sexual offence cases against teachers there,” he said.

Between April and August this year, Sace received 21 reports of sexual offence allegations against teachers. He said last year alone, 21 teachers were struck off the teachers’ roll for a variety of offences, including sexual offences and corporal punishment.

“This is an indication that the problem is continuing. The problem is probably much bigger considering the fact that we are only dealing with reported cases and our biggest concern is on how many more cases are going unreported,” said Ndhlovu.

Mahlambi confirmed that suspension letters were issued yesterday by Dr Enock Vusumuzi Nzama, head of department, and served by the district officials. The suspended teachers had to leave immediately.

Mahlambi warned that teachers found guilty of sexual offences against pupils would face the long arm of the law and be removed from the education system.

“We have no place for sexual offenders in our education system and we would never keep them in our schools and classrooms,” he warned.

He said the district had prepared for the suspension of these teachers so that the pupils were not affected.

Kwazi Mthethwa, the Education MEC’s spokesperson, dismissed rumours that a pupil was gang-raped by teachers.

He said there were three separate incidents of rape and attempted rape, allegedly by a school principal, teacher and security guard respectively, which police were investigating.

“It is not true that there was a gang rape. We found that there were three separate incidents of rape cases reported at the local police station. The teacher has already appeared in court on a charge of rape, and the security guard has since left the school, while the principal is yet to appear in court,” said Mthethwa.

Allen Thompson, the National Teachers’ Union deputy president, said they were not aware of the offences and were conducting their own investigation to establish if the accused teachers were their members.

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