According to Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi, 175 complaints of physical assault of pupils by teachers and 43 complaints of sexual abuse by teachers were reported. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency/ANA

Johannesburg - The Democratic Alliance has expressed concern at the increase in the number of complaints of physical assault and sexual abuse of school pupils by teachers in Gauteng schools.

According to Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi, in a written reply to questions tabled in the Gauteng legislature, 175 complaints of physical assault of pupils by teachers and 43 complaints of sexual abuse by teachers were reported to the department in 2017/18, DA spokesperson Khume Ramulifho said on Sunday.

Of the 175 complaints of physical assault of pupils by teachers, 118 cases resulted in guilty verdicts. In 43 complaints of sexual abuse by teachers, 19 complaints resulted in guilty verdicts against the teachers.

"The number of complaints of physical assault and sexual abuse of learners by teachers increased in the 2017/18 financial year. This indicates that teachers are failing to adhere to the policy against corporal punishment and the sexual abuse policy that are in place," Ramulifho said.

"It is disappointing and disturbing that teachers who are entrusted with the responsibility of looking after learners at school are also abusing them. In addition, the department has reported 81 cases to the South African Council of Educators (Sace), 55 teachers have been found guilty, and 41 were dismissed from employment. Forty-one department officials were also reported to Sace."

The DA called on Lesufi to engage teachers on corporal punishment and the sexual abuse policy so that there was a culture of zero tolerance for these incidents in all schools, Ramulifho said.

African News Agency/ANA