The entrance to Valhalla Primary School in Centurion where a teacher has been suspended on suspicion of sexual impropriety towards pupils. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency/ANA
Pretoria -  A male teacher accused of sexually assaulting at least 24 children at Valhalla Primary School will learn today whether the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court grants him bail or not.

Parents of the children, who were advised not to speak to the media or coach their children to avoid contaminating the case, were expected to gather in court for the bail hearing.

The man is accused of allegedly touching pupils inappropriately at the school since June last year.

He was only reported to the police last month after pupils told visiting Tshwane Metro Police officers about his alleged behaviour.

The officers were at the school to teach pupils about safety, their rights and how to spot harassment.

Other teachers from the school have joined forces with parents and #NotInMyName activists to submit a petition encouraging the court not to reintegrate the educator back into society.

A parent said: “He put his hands in my daughter’s pockets and started rubbing her private parts.”

Spokesperson for the provincial Department of Education Steve Mabona spent the whole of yesterday in court, sitting next to parents, who were upset on hearing the teacher denied all allegations against him and would plead not guilty.

According to the police, the number of pupils who were allegedly assaulted had increased from seven to 24 in the past week.

This could rise further because investigating officer Captain Johannes Mkhondo told the court that he was still sitting with incomplete statements from four boys.

Mkhondo told the court that the accused’s behaviour was continuous and would put the pupils in danger.

He said school principal reprimanded the educator last July, but evidence suggested that he continued with his alleged abuse of the children.

“His behaviour is continuous and there are children everywhere in the community.”

Mkhondo also objected bail, citing the teacher’s safety would be at risk because the community was very angry at him.

However, in a twist of events, the accused’s lawyer advocate Ngwenya told Mkhondo that he had text messages showing that a person who identified himself as Captain Mkhondo texted the accused’s wife requesting a R100 00 bribe to kill the case.

Ngwenya said he would call on the accused’s wife and sister to testify.

Mkhondo denied any knowledge of text conversations.

He said when he visited the family, he became aware that the wife was under the impression that she had been in communication with him. He subsequently had to produce his service certificate to prove he was the real Captain Mkhondo.

He said he had two cellphones and was prepared to have his messages read out if it would please the court.

Prosecutor Sanet Jacobson opposed the bail bid: “Is the accused’s own 8-year-old granddaughter going to be safe when he is released on bail? Will the court say we now trust you with the safety of South Africa’s children? What will happen if his urges come?”.

She further added it was not true that the accused did not know the identities of the victims because the defence had a copy of the charge sheet.

Ngwenya awaits the verdict to find out if he successfully convinced the court to allow his client to enjoy his right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

He argued that there was no evidence to suggest that his client was a threat to society, and that his client had no intentions to interfere with investigations or flee the country.

Pretoria News