Gauteng teacher falsely accused of sexually assaulting pupil cleared
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Johannesburg - The Gauteng Department of Education has been ordered to reinstate a teacher it suspended over what now appear to have been false charges of sexually abusing a pupil and smoking drugs in class.
Mario Marshal Mokwena, a Randfontein Secondary School teacher, has been found not guilty at an inquiry at the Education Labour Relations Council.
Arbitrator Themba Manganyi presided over the inquiry intended to determine whether Mokwena was guilty of smoking the drug Cat in class and sleeping with a Grade 9 learner.
The incidents were said to have happened in 2017 and were reported to authorities last year after the accuser’s mother learnt of them.
Mokwena was placed on precautionary suspension after being charged.
According to evidence before Manganyi, the allegations came about after the accuser was assaulted by her boyfriend while pregnant.
Manganyi established that the boyfriend dictated to the accuser, now 19, what to write in a statement detailing the allegations against Mokwena.
“I therefore find that the statement was written under duress,” said Manganyi in the ruling delivered last week.
The allegations were that Mokwena slept with the then Grade 9 learner several times at his rented accommodation in Randfontein.
It was alleged that the girl would sneak from her home at night to make her way to Mokwena.
The accuser alleged that on one occasion, Mokwena had sexual intercourse with her and then took another learner to his bedroom.
The department charged Mokwena over this allegation, too. But it did not call the learner to testify at the inquiry, Manganyi said.
“I therefore find that allegation 2 is based on hearsay. Thus, I cannot find Mokwena guilty on this charge,” Manganyi ruled. Mokwena’s accuser also alleged that he smoked Cat in class.
Mokwena led evidence intended to prove that the allegations were improbable. He submitted that he did not stay at the place the accuser alleged she had sneaked into in 2017.
Manganyi’s major finding pertained to whether it was probable that the accuser sneaked out of her home at night several times to go to Mokwena’s residence.
The accuser’s mother testified that she was strict and locked the gates around 6pm.
Said Manganyi: “I find it improbable that (she) would go to such trouble to sneak out of her mother’s place and sneak into (Mokwena’s) place on four or five occasions and back at her mother’s house without being observed.
“It is my considered view, based on a balance of probabilities, that Mokwena did not commit the misconduct levelled against him … ”
Manganyi found the department to have failed to prove Mokwena’s guilt.
“Consequently, I … find Mokwena not guilty of all the charges that were preferred against him,” he ruled.
“I order the employer, the Gauteng Department of Education, to uplift Mr Mokwena’s precautionary suspension and to reinstate the terms and conditions of his employment contract prior to his precautionary suspension with immediate effect.”