Durban - A veteran teacher convicted this week of two counts of indecent assault – involving two pupils two decades ago – would be suspended, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education said on Thursday.

Department spokesman, Muzi Mahlambi, confirmed that a letter of suspension would be served on Friday on Robin Radley, a teacher at Richmond Primary School for the past 26 years.

“We cannot keep such educators in our schools and the department will take decisive action,” Mahlambi said.

Radley, 52, pleaded guilty in the Pietermaritzburg Regional Court this week to indecently assaulting two 13-year-old male pupils in 1993. In terms of a plea agreement he was sentenced to four years in prison, conditionally suspended for five years.

The assaults took place at the hostel situated behind the school, when Radley said he was a “young and inexperienced teacher who found himself in a state of emotional turmoil” because he was homosexual.

He said he was later ashamed of what he had done and that since the two incidents he had kept his distance from scholars and refrained from acting in such a manner.

Herman Botha, a parent who has a Grade 6 pupil at the school, said he was taken aback when he read about Radley’s convictions in the Daily News on Thursday.

“As parents, we deserved to be told what kind of a man this is, teaching our children,” he said.

“I was shocked when I read about it in the newspaper. My son was at risk being in the same school as that man.”

Another parent whose child was in one of Radley’s classes said she was shocked and appalled at his conduct.

“I had numerous interactions with him and he seemed like an educator who truly cared about the well-being of his pupils. I trusted him, not knowing he was a sexual predator.”

However, Radley’s colleagues have come to his defence, describing him as an “excellent teacher” and a “good person”.

“He made a mistake all those years ago. No other incidents were reported involving any inappropriate behaviour on his part,” said one colleague, who taught at the school with Radley for many years.

Another colleague said Radley had a wonderful relationship with his pupils, who all liked and respected him.

“This is a very unfortunate situation… really horrible. Nothing can excuse what Radley did, but his suspension is a great loss to the school,” the colleague said.

Daily News