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Sex pest teacher fired from school for blind and deaf pupils

TT Mphethi, a partially-blind teacher, has failed to convince an Education Labour Relations Council arbitration that his dismissal for sexually and physically assaulting a Grade 7 learner in 2016 was unfair. File Picture.

TT Mphethi, a partially-blind teacher, has failed to convince an Education Labour Relations Council arbitration that his dismissal for sexually and physically assaulting a Grade 7 learner in 2016 was unfair. File Picture.

Published Dec 8, 2020

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Johannesburg – An abusive sex pest teacher has been removed from the classroom.

TT Mphethi, a partially-blind teacher, failed to convince an Education Labour Relations Council arbitration his dismissal for sexually and physically assaulting a Grade 7 learner in 2016 was unfair.

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Arbitrator MP Shai found Mphethi guilty on probability on the charges on which he was axed following a disciplinary hearing at Limpopo’s Bosele School for the Blind and Deaf.

Mphethi had faced a raft of counts, but Shai found many were duplicates of three charges. These were sexual assault, bribing a learner to silence her about sexual harassment, and administering corporal punishment.

The sexual assault charge against Mphethi, who had been a teacher at the school since 1994, was that he inappropriately touched the learner.

He was found to have also kissed her on the lips. He went on to give her R200 after a female teacher told him his actions were improper.

The learner had confided in the female teacher. The R200 was viewed as an attempt to buy her silence.

The corporal punishment charge stemmed from when Mphethi slapped the learner with an open hand across the face.

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Some days after the groping and bribery incidents, the learner was part of a group of learners who made a noise in a classroom.

She testified Mphethi beat all the culprits three times with a chalkboard duster, but hit her harder.

The learner detailed Mphethi further slapped her and her spectacles fell from her face and broke.

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The learner’s mother learnt of her ordeal at the boarding school after this incident.

Mphethi denied all charges. He denied he groped the learner and gave her R200.

While he admitted to encountering learners making noise, he denied assaulting them. The learner’s spectacles broke when he knocked against them by mistake as she ran away, he told the arbitration.

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Shai found Mphethi’s defence improbable.

“Looking at the totality of the evidence, I find that the applicant probably committed the sexual harassment against the learner,” Shai said.

“I have also looked at the demeanour of the learner. She appeared to me to be a credible witness, who could remember the incident reasonably well though she was 14 years when it happened. Further, there appears to be no motive to implicate the applicant on the part of the learner.”

On the bribery charge, Shai said evidence indicated that Mphethi had a motive.

“I conclude that the applicant probably bribed the learner with a R200 note.”

Shai found Mphethi guilty of slapping the learner.

@BonganiNkosi87

The Star

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