Lesufi awaits report on alleged sex-for-marks scandal at Joburg school
Johannesburg - Sedibeng West District head of dispute management, Barney Boloang, told angry parents at a school meeting that the principal – who is said to have a 2-year-old child with a learner – and a number of teachers at the school, were under investigation for allegedly having sexual relations with pupils in exchange for marks, promotions and other favours.
Parents were also told that school funds were being embezzled, and that was also being investigated.
“There are allegations levelled against educators. There are allegations levelled against the principal. We found out that there are teachers who are having sexual relationships with learners, and we also found out that a principal has a 2-year-old child with a learner.
“There are also new allegations that funds of the school are embezzled. The cases are under investigation. But I am not going to talk about the merits and demerits of the case because it is under investigation. What I can safely tell you is that MEC Panyaza Lesufi came here and he met the SGB (school governing body), the district director and other stakeholders,” he said.
During the meeting, concerned parents requested that all the implicated teachers be suspended until the investigations were done, while others called for the closure of the school.
“This has shown that our children are not safe here. It’s even worse because they can’t report such behaviour to us. These teachers threaten them that they will show their ‘poor’ marks to parents,” said Josephine Molebatsi.
Another parent, Elizabeth Radebe, said the allegations were not a reflection of dedicated teachers who were celebrated on Teacher’s Day, on Monday. “This is not what is expected from teachers. They are supposed to be parents to our children. I hope those who did this are fired.”
Boloang said the allegations were first posted on social media and not reported to authorities formally.
“We conducted interviews after we saw these allegations on social media. The MEC has appointed an independent law firm to come and investigate. We have a pandemic of coronavirus and gender-based violence, and people who should take care of the lives of our children are sleeping with them and impregnating them. It’s a cause for concern.
“There are challenges in this school and these challenges cannot be left unattended. We must attend to them. I am not going to go into the merit of our investigations but there are people who were mentioned and linked to these allegations. We are pleading to the parents to give us permission to talk to their children because the Children’s Act states clearly that we must ask permission from parents,” said Boloang.
Boloang added that the absence of the principal in the meeting proved that there was a leadership crisis.
A former learner, who completed her matric last year, said she knew about the allegations.
“I once confronted the principal after I saw him with a prostitute and he never talked to me for the rest of the year. I also remember a Valentine’s Day trip to a hotel in 2018. The principal sat with a learner, facing each other with their legs open. Last year, she told us that she took blood tests after she fell pregnant, and that the principal was the father. We also knew about their relationship because it was open,” she said.
Last week, Lesufi visited the school after the allegations surfaced. Later, in an interview with Radio 702, he said he intended to question the school management and learners and then make a decision regarding the matter.
However, Gauteng Education spokesperson, Steve Mabona, said: “Due to lack of tangible information at the meeting last week, MEC Lesufi subsequently instructed the district to gather more information and within 14 days furnish him with a report.”
National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) executive director, Basil Manuel, said this was a tragic situation.
“These people should not remain in education. They should be expelled. If the principal is involved, how can he lead with authority.
“I am not surprised that there are also allegations of mismanagement because when we have a person in a position of authority, who has the authority to take it away because they have made themselves guilty of some heinous crime like this, that person has no authority to hold anyone accountable.”