As convicted child molester and former Parktown water polo coach Collan Rex enjoys another month of freedom, three more teachers accused of racism, assault and intimidation at the school have been given minimal or no punishment.
Rex’s sentencing proceedings were meant to continue on Wednesday after a month-long postponement, since his conviction on 144 charges of sexual assault and a further 12 of common assault.
The 23-year-old coach spent much of his tenure between 2015 and 2016 molesting pupils at the school, although he managed to dodge a further 171 criminal charges including rape and attempted murder.
This week, however, the High Court sitting at Palm Ridge heard that eight social workers were brought on to interview the numerous victims in the case as part of Rex’s pre-sentencing report.
But the report was still unfinished, and Acting Judge Peet Johnson reluctantly allowed the case to be postponed until the end of this month. Before proceedings, parents of the victims filled the court gallery, and began angrily shouting questions at Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) spokesperson Steve Mabona, asking why the abusive environment at the school had not changed.
Among the barrage, one parent asked why three teachers, Remo Murabito, James Furlonger and Etienne le Roux, fingered in an audited report, were not punished.
The massive probe into teacher misconduct earlier this year revealed evidence against at least six teachers at the school - current and former - involving abuse of pupils, racism and cultivating a culture of bullying.
One of the teachers, Murabito, was accused of not only assaulting a child, but encouraging the culture of silence that is believed to have prevented pupils from coming forward about the water polo coach’s 18 months of abuse.
Mabona told the Saturday Star Murabito went through a disciplinary hearing and that “sanctions had been imposed”, but he did not divulge what they were. However, a source high up in the GDE said Murabito was given a R7000 fine, despite the seriousness of the allegations against him.
“I didn’t think it was appropriate, but we have to abide by the decision of the (independent) disciplinary chairperson,” the source said. Meanwhile, the disciplinary proceedings against Furlonger and Le Roux also fell apart, after parents of the complainants refused to participate because the charges allegedly did not reflect the findings of the audited reports.
The initial charges, which were allegedly incomplete, saw Furlonger accused of calling Indian pupils “c**lies”, and saying “black people always expect free things and they don’t want to work hard”.
Le Roux was accused of failing to assist a student with a head injury. He was also accused of grabbing a pupil and shoving him against a door, as well as violently breaking a student’s “headset”.
According to Mabona, it was because of the collapse of the hearings process that the two teachers were exonerated and have since returned to the school. He said the GDE had no choice but to allow them to return, or face potential litigation in the labour court.