Sex-pest plague: SA is crawling with wayward teachers
The Parktown Boys sex pest is but one of hundreds of teachers in six provinces rapped for serious offences
As the sentencing of convicted paedophile Collan Rex, a former assistant water polo coach at Parktown Boys’ High, was postponed on Wednesday, it emerged that 98 teachers were fired in the last financial year for a host of serious offences, including having sexual relationships with pupils.
A further 483 teachers from six provinces were slapped with final written warnings and 308 with fines, while 119 were suspended without pay.
The statistics, which cover the period April 2017 to March 2018, are contained in the latest annual reports of six provincial education departments. They exclude the Free State, Gauteng and Northern Cape, whose annual reports were not available.
A shocking 28 out of the 36 teachers hauled before disciplinary hearings in four of the provinces for allegedly having sexual relationships with pupils were from KwaZulu-Natal.
Not a single teacher from the Eastern Cape or North West was accused of having sexual relationships with pupils or sexually assaulting them. There were also no recorded cases of teachers sexually assaulting pupils in Limpopo.
Rees Mann, director of South African Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse, questioned whether any of the cases of teachers being fired ended up with the police.
“People think they did their part by firing somebody or giving them a sanction, but that is not so. Their part should be victim-orientated and ensuring that justice is done.”
He said slapping teachers with a fine or a final written warning “doesn’t mean they are now going to be good boys and girls”.
“If they are career offenders, they are going to continue this behaviour.”
He said the names of those who were suspended after being found guilty of sexual offences would not appear on the National Register for Sex Offenders because they did not have a criminal conviction.
About 262 teachers were investigated for assaulting pupils and a further 16 for assault with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
A further 213 teachers faced disciplinary hearings for alleged improper, disgraceful and unlawful conduct, while 11 were implicated for being under the influence of intoxicating substances.
Anthea Cereseto, chief executive of the Governing Body Foundation, welcomed the department’s efforts in subjecting teachers to disciplinary action.
“We support all measures to ensure schools are safe and honest places where children don’t get beaten.”
But she said disciplinary processes, especially when they involved principals, put schools “in limbo”.
“Principals are put on suspension and placed in district offices or other schools while the process happens, but it takes too long. In the meantime, there’s destabilisation in the schools, and a number of schools have declined in functionality enormously in that period.”
She said that often there was no valid case against the principal, but because an allegation had been lodged it had to be investigated.
“The principal is displaced for some time and it gives people who are trying to capture a particular position the opportunity to strategise to get the position or to assist someone else to get the position.”
Eastern Cape education department spokesperson Mali Mtima said “it can’t be true” that no teacher from the province had been found guilty of having a sexual relationship with or sexually assaulting a pupil. He promised to respond to the query.
KwaZulu-Natal education spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, the sentencing of Rex in the High Court sitting at the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court in Katlehong, east of Johannesburg, was postponed to November 27 because probation reports from social workers were not ready. Rex was convicted on 12 counts of assault and 144 counts of sexual assault.
The organisation, Women & Men Against Child Abuse, slammed the delay in sentencing Rex. Representing the organisation, Luke Lamprecht said he was “devastated” that the case had not been finalised.
“The boys had to endure three sets of interviews – their initial statements to the police, the follow-up victim impact statement, and a third set of interviews with state-appointed probation officers.”