THE four Makhumbuza High School teachers who were acquitted of sexual harassment charges might not be totally off the hook just yet.
The Department of Education yesterday said the department would not immediately reinstate the cleared teachers. It is waiting for the verdicts of two other investigations - a criminal rape case against a fifth teacher and an investigation being conducted by the South African Council of Educators (SACE).
Department spokesperson Mbali Thusi said: "We are not in a position to reinstate or lift the suspension of the four cleared teachers until a verdict on the two remaining investigations is made. The outcome of the two cases is crucial because it also has strong implications for the matter as a whole."
Speaking through their lawyer yesterday the teachers said that they were eagerly waiting to go back to work and to finally put the ordeal behind them.
Lawyer George Moloko said that it was almost a month now after the verdict and his clients have still not been reinstated.
"The department is taking its time about implementing the recommendations of the investigation including the lifting of the suspensions," he said.
"This whole thing has caused them much stress, having to watch their wives and children going to school and work and being forced to sit at home and answer to their children why they do not go to work anymore."
Five teachers were initially suspended in April after allegations of their having sex with pupils in exchange for money and alcohol first surfaced. One of the five was arrested for raping a girl at the school and is currently out on bail.
"They have strongly indicated that they are not prepared to go back to the same school," he said.
Moloko said the charges against the four teachers were a conspiracy as shown by the fact that the charges were not proved.
He said the department had now been made aware of the source of the problem - the camps between teachers at the school - which ended in the teachers being falsely accused.
"The department is now aware that there are camps at the school and that the whole saga was a conspiracy to get rid of the four teachers who were believed to belong to one of the camps.