This emerged as furious parents held a meeting last night to discuss the traumatic developments.
Confirming the increase, Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi tweeted: “Sadly, the number of learners who were allegedly sexually assaulted by the guard at a primary school in Soweto has increased to 83.”
The suspect was arrested on Monday and appeared at the Protea Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday. He is in custody and is due to appear in court again on Wednesday.
The department confirmed that the principal and the senior management of the school were dismissed with immediate effect and stated that it will engage the school governing body to establish why it should not be dissolved.
An independent body has also been appointed to investigate all the allegations levelled against the principal and the school's management.
The department also confirmed that it was offering counselling to the learners, who were mostly believed to be in Grade R.
A multi-disciplinary team made up of officials from Gauteng's education, social development and health departments as well the Teddy Bear Clinic is providing counselling for the pupils. "We will continue to closely monitor the situation," Lesufi said.
“We remain grateful to all the stakeholders, especially the Teddy Bear Clinic and social support services. And I am grateful that the department has prioritised this matter, and we will leave no stone unturned,” Lesufi added.
The ANC Women's League praised the parents who reported the matter to police.