Politics / 2 October 2019, 06:43am / SIYABONGA MKHWANAZI
Cape Town - Teachers preying on pupils are among the more than 600 cases being investigated across the country’s schools involving educators.
The Department of Basic Education has fired 32 teachers in the last financial year for various misconduct charges, including rape.
This comes after the South African Council for Educators (Sace), in its annual report tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, said that more than 101 teachers had been hauled before disciplinary hearings on a number of charges.
In the report, Sace revealed that it had investigated a total of 633 cases against teachers, and that 93 of these were for the rape and sexual assault of children at schools.
It added that out of 101 disciplinary cases, 67 teachers were found guilty, 11 were found not guilty and 23 cases had been withdrawn.
“Cases (were) withdrawn at the hearings owing to lack of co-operation by witnesses and parents,” read the report.
Sace has previously complained in Parliament that parents and pupils fail to co-operate with them on rape and sexual offences charges against teachers.
Also in the report, the organisation said that in some of the cases, 32 teachers had been dismissed. However, it was pointed out that in five other cases, teachers were dismissed for a period and could later reapply to the department.
In 30 other cases, teachers were barred but their dismissal was suspended for a certain period.
“A total of 633 complaints were received for the year compared with 550 that council had anticipated to process for the year. It must be noted that Sace has no control over the number of cases that may be reported to it in any financial year,” the organisation said, adding that there had been an increase in the number of cases reported for the misconduct of teachers.
The report by the council comes as the country grapples with child abuse and gender-based violence.
President Cyril Ramaphosa last week told an SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) conference in Nasrec, Joburg, that teachers must protect pupils and not abuse them.
The president has pumped in R1.1billion to fight gender-based and sexual violence against women and children.
Cases of sexual abuse by teachers have been going on for some time.
Sace is now set to face the portfolio committee on basic education on its annual report in the coming weeks.
The department has been under pressure in recent times to clamp down on teachers who are involved in sexual relationships with children.
A year ago a teacher in Manguzi, KwaZulu-Natal, was accused of impregnating five pupils.
It was later revealed that more pupils had been impregnated by the teacher over several years.
Meanwhile, Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said the union condemned acts of misconduct by teachers.
“We are very clear when it comes to that (rape and sexual assault) - there must be no sympathy from Sace. We are clear that people must be struck off the roll and not find their way back (teaching). We cannot have a teacher who impregnates five pupils,” said Maluleke of the KZN teacher.
He added that Sace should be allowed to continue its job of rooting out elements falling foul of the law.
Maluleke added that the Department of Education and Sadtu had to work together in dealing with these cases and in preventing theft and fraud.
South African Teachers Union operational director Johan Kruger said that teacher-pupil relationships had to be stopped, adding that the union had also had to deal with cases relating to some of its members.