Johannesburg - Outrage has erupted in Kagiso over the appointment of an acting principal of John Martin Catholic School who apparently was dismissed by the Gauteng Education Department for sexually assaulting and harassing learners at another school in 2014.
Concerned community members and parents went to the private primary school in Kagiso, Mogale City, on Wednesday after allegations of sexual harassment and rape were levelled against acting principal Motsamai Molete on social media on Tuesday evening.
Molete, a former teacher at Phahama Secondary School in Mohlakeng, was accused of being fired by the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) for seven alleged charges of sexually assaulting and harassing learners in 2014.
“These were serious allegations against the acting principal … so we went there to investigate,” a community member said.
GDE spokesperson Steve Mabona told The Star on Tuesday that Molete was dismissed by the department for misconduct concerning sexually assaulting a learner and improper and disgraceful conduct of a sexual nature towards learners.
“He lodged an appeal; however, the Gauteng Education MEC Mr Panyaza Lesufi upheld the disciplinary committee’s decision to dismiss Mr Molete,” Mabona said.
A copy of Molete’s Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) arbitration award for unfair dismissal, delivered on October 19, 2015, and seen by The Star, stated that the educator was convicted and dismissed on seven charges which included allegations that Molete sexually assaulted a leaner by inserting his finger in her and sexually harassed several learners by telling them that he wanted to have sex with them.
The document, available on the ELRC website, showed that the arbitrator DP Van Tonder found that Molete’s dismissal was “substantively fair” but “procedurally unfair”.
The DA’s constituency head in Mogale City Janho Engelbrecht, and ward 15 councillor and parent at the school Lesego Lekoto, told The Star on Wednesday that the matter was brought to the attention of the school by concerned parents after the social media posts trended.
“Parents then took it up with the school in the morning and it was immediately taken up and reported to the CSO (Catholic School Organisation) under which John Martin School falls,” Lekoto said.
Before the social media posts, other concerned parents from Phahama Secondary School had also written a letter about the matter.
“I previously raised my concerns concerning parents of children who were allegedly sexually assaulted by teacher Motsamai Molete … Children are not safe to be around him, if you don’t take this matter seriously this will be reported to Mr Panyaza Lesufi,” a parent from Mohlakeng wrote in a letter last year.
The Star made numerous attempts via phone calls and email to get comment from John Martin Catholic School on the matter but the school had not responded by publication.
The Education Department, however, said it was not aware of Molete’s appointment and position at the school.
“Consequently, upon learning of this, GDE officials were sent to the school to further investigate … they found the principal absent and unreachable for engagement.
“Despite this, the department has taken the decision to convene a meeting with the Catholic Institute of Education this evening (Wednesday) … to discuss this matter further,” Mabona said.
Engelbrecht said the DA was deeply concerned about the matter and would be posing questions to the MEC for Education in the provincial legislature via DA Gauteng spokesperson for education Khume Ramulifho.
“This just goes to show how important that creation of a National Registry of Sexual Offenders is. The DA has been pushing for this registry for years but sadly the governing party seems to have a different view,” Engelbrecht added.