Applause is due Mthandeni Dlungwana, the MEC for Education, whose appeals committee has in the last three months dismissed 12 teachers for having sex with pupils.

Twelve? It begins to sound like an epidemic, or common at least, the statistic emerging as an Nquthu teacher appeared in court on allegations of rape, sexual grooming and sexual assault.

Word has also emerged of four teachers from that Nquthu school being suspended, and of a headmaster in Nongoma being arrested for sexual assault.

This amounts to 18 adults in this province presently linked to criminal acts involving their charges, youngsters they are there to guide and tutor. These are the ones we know about.

It is not fanciful to suspect many more, given the frequency of those who are violating laws and standards of decency, treating their classrooms like hunting grounds.

Perhaps the MEC's repugnance will encourage further disclosures of such detestable conduct. It must be stopped.

While decisive action is commendable, it also a sign of the times that we find ourselves hailing an MEC for doing his job. Those predator teachers, who occupy a position of special trust and are figures of authority, have no business anywhere near children.

Dismissal and criminal action are their just deserts. The Employment of Educators Act stipulates their axing regardless of whether the pupil has consented.

Dlungwana wants them on the sex offenders' list. Why not? In all cases it is predatory, and in many cases it is nothing less than paedophilia. The school environment is no mitigating factor. In fact, it is a damning circumstance.

We have to look, though, for reasons behind this malady – in the offending teachers and their prey. And here we have to reach back to upbringing, and realise that part of the blame goes beyond the actual actors.

Who allowed them to think this behaviour was OK?