LIMPOPO MEC for education Namane Masemola yesterday suspended a teacher who was allegedly caught by his principal fondling the genitals of a Grade 11 girl pupil.
Cebile Khanye, a communications manager in the province's department of education, confirmed the teacher's suspension.
Khanye said the teacher was served with a suspension letter at the school at Mopje village outside Tzaneen.
"He was suspended with full pay and will stay at home until the investigation against his alleged sexual offences has been exhausted," Khanye said.
A teacher at Mopje Secondary School, known only as Moremone, told Sowetan that examinations had to be suspended for a few hours while principal Rector Molewa was cautioning teachers about the dangers of having sexual relationships with their pupils.
The suspended teacher allegedly impregnated a 15-year-old Grade 10 pupil twice - in 2008 and this year. She allegedly gave birth to her first child on November 19 2008 and another child on November 23 2009.
The girl left Mopje Secondary to continue her studies at Kgwekgwe High at GaMoleketla village.
The girl's uncle, who took care of her after the death of her mother, said yesterday that the girl had left her grandmother's house to live with the teacher at a hostel in GaMotupa after the birth of her second child.
"We feel relieved that the teacher has finally been suspended. Maybe our child will now realise that her so-called boyfriend is a loser who only wanted to use her. He has a wife in Venda where he comes from," said the uncle.
Meanwhile, the SA Council of Educators (Sace) says the number of reported sexual offences involving teachers and pupils has gone up since Sowetan first reported about them last month.
Sace spokesperson Temba Ndhlovu said the council had received more than 15 cases since November 12 after the Sowetan article first appeared. He said since April a total of 73 cases had been reported nationwide and that 66 of those had been finalised. Six of the implicated teachers had since been struck off the roll.