Jeppe Boys High School wants to allay parents' fears after it was revealed that two of its teachers were involved in serious misconduct during their respective tenures at Parktown Boys High.
In September, the Saturday Star reported on the criminal trial of the water polo coach who molested numerous pupils at Parktown Boys, where pupils testified about the school's alleged discouragement of reporting abuse on campus. This “culture of silence” was a key aspect of the criminal trial, with the State alleging that the abuse of pupils was able to continue unabated because learners were too afraid to report it.
One of the complainants mentioned that while matrics indoctrinated Grade 8 pupils into not being “snitches”, it was a teacher, David Hansen, who allegedly would turn away pupils who complained of bullying or even physical abuse in the boarding house.
The same teacher allegedly encouraged matrics to beat Grade 8 boarders after they complained they were being victimised. Hansen is also understood to be one of the educators incriminated in a Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) report that found numerous teachers guilty of misconduct.
Hansen is currently working as a boarding house master at Jeppe Boys, and after last month's media coverage of the allegations against Hansen, a group of parents and pupils approached the Saturday Star about their concerns.
One Jeppe pupil explained that he and at least two others had filed complaints against Hansen in 2016, allegedly for the same conduct, wherein they were threatened with punishment for reporting inter-pupil bullying and abuse.
Meanwhile, another boarding house master at the school, Bryan Hillock, was also involved in a shocking initiation incident at Parktown in 2009, where Grade 11 pupils were taken from their beds, marched to the rugby field, stripped naked and forced to rub Deep Heat onto their genitals before lining up against a wall and being forced to run a gauntlet of matric boys who beat them with cricket bats, hockey sticks and golf clubs. Hillock was allegedly aware of the initiation incident but did not report it. He was later placed on suspension.
In 2009, the GDE also confirmed he had been internally disciplined for hitting a boy with a hockey stick and forced to undertake an anger management course.
Yesterday, Jeppe principal, Dale Jackson, said he only became aware of the allegations against Hansen after the Saturday Star's report. However, he said he did not wish to make a snap judgment and was still awaiting the GDE report that detailed the allegations against the teacher. He added that the concerns against Hansen in 2016 had been handled with the relevant pupils amicably.
GDE spokesperson Steve Mabona confirmed that the report would be provided to the relevant schools in the next week, and said the department supported Jackson's decision. Regarding Hillock, Jackson said he believed that the boarding house master was “rehabilitated” and that in the six years he had been teaching at Jeppe, he had not received a single complaint.
The principal categorically denied that there was a culture of silence at the school and that the school had done its utmost to give pupils numerous avenues to report abuse or bullying, in person or anonymously.
Mabona said the department was particularly pleased with the anonymous complaints portal established by the school in recent years, and that it would like to implement such a system at other government schools.
Jackson said he was deeply concerned that parents and pupils at the school had approached the media instead of the school administration, and said he hoped they would feel comfortable enough to speak with him about any issues in the future.
The Saturday Star