A teacher and his pupil briefly appeared in the Mkhuhlu magistrate's court yesterday in connection with more than 11 burglaries in which items that included perfume and meat were stolen.
Emmanuel Mboweni, a teacher at Rindzani high school in Madras, near Hazyview, Mpumalanga, and his 17-year-old pupil, who cannot be identified because he is under age, appeared before a packed court.
They were not asked to plead to charges of housebreaking and theft and the matter was postponed until June 3 for further investigation by the police.
Mboweni was granted R800 bail while the pupil was remanded in custody.
"We have been stealing together and why am I the only one who is not granted bail and why do I have to go down in the cold alone?" the boy asked the court.
Magistrate David Mashakeni told him that the case against him was very serious, but that it was within his rights to make special arrangements for a bail application at his next court appearance.
The teacher paid the bail, but stayed at the police station apparently because he was afraid of members of the community who had gathered outside the court, baying for his blood.
The two accused allegedly broke into a number of homes in the Mkhuhlu area and stole items such as chicken braai packs, perfume, cell phones, clothes and electrical appliances.
Mboweni is said to be from Dan village, near Tzaneen, more than 200km away from where the incidents allegedly took place.
"We wonder why the department of education had to hire a thieving teacher all the way from Tzaneen to come and terrorise us as well as teaching scholars how to steal?" said an angry member of the community who asked not to be identified.
The Mpumalanga education department said it was disappointed to hear the news and promised to conduct an internal investigation as soon as possible.
"A teacher is supposed to be a role model and if the allegations against him are true then he is out of order.
"We are going to conduct internal investigations to see to what extent the allegations about the theft have affected teaching before the department decides on a course of action," said Mpumalanga education spokesman, Hlahla Ngwenya yesterday.