Durban - A TEACHER at a Durban school has been suspended on allegations of making sexual advances to pupils, and his principal is also being taken to task for allegedly not doing anything about the allegations of sexual misconduct against the teacher. .
The allegations came to light at the weekend, after the pupils publicly opened up about sexual harassment by a male teacher, who they accused of using them as sex objects. They claimed he would refuse to teach them if they rejected his sexual advances.
The Education Department on Monday said it was working on an investigation to get to the bottom of the pupils’ allegations.
Some pupils had complained that the man, who teaches physical science to Grade 11 pupils, had been making comments about their bodies and this made them uncomfortable.
One pupil said she did not report him at first, as she was worried about her academic marks.
Another said the teacher sent her a WhatsApp message making sexual advances.
The girls alleged that they had finally decided to report the teacher, in his thirties, to the principal, who allegedly did nothing - despite a number of reports made about the man.
A parent of one of the alleged victims said she approached the principal after her daughter alerted her to the sexual misconduct, and asked that the matter be attended to urgently.
She said the principal had promised to report the matter to the school governing body (SGB) and remove her daughter from the teacher’s class, but nothing was done.
Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu called on all people to protect pupils from any abuse.
He vowed to ensure that action would be taken against anyone found to have sexually mistreated pupils in the province.
“We call on all our teachers to respect the code of conduct of educators, treat pupils as their own children and protect them from any form of abuse. Last year alone, the department fired seven teachers who were found guilty of sexual misconduct,” said Mshengu.
In a letter sent to parents on Monday, the school said it took the allegations seriously.
The school said in the letter, signed by the deputy principal, that it was both ashamed and depressed over the incident.
“We are doing everything possible to get to the bottom of the matter. All implicated parties have been suspended pending an investigation and, rest assured, we will leave no stone unturned. We are pleading for patience on the part of parents and pupils while the SGB and the Department of Education finalise their investigations,” the deputy principal said in the letter.
Education Department spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said they were taking the allegations seriously and, if found to be true, those involved would be dealt with.
“We are not going to fold our arms and look away. We are going to be looking at this matter in detail and we promise to get to the bottom of it. However, there are processes to be followed.
“We are going to listen to both sides of the story. We definitely do not want to be associated with such allegations of abuse of our pupils, and we will do anything possible to protect them,” said Mahlambi.