The Gauteng department of education says it has opened criminal cases against two teachers from a Soweto school who allegedly took turns sexually assaulting a pupil for a period of two years from when she was 13 years old.
Department spokesperson Steve Mabona confirmed yesterday that one of the educators from Siyabonga Secondary School in Bramfischerville has been placed on precautionary suspension pending finalisation of his disciplinary process.
The other teacher, who pleaded innocence to charges of misconduct related to the sexual assault of the pupil at the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC), was found guilty and dismissed in March.
Police spokesperson Capt Kay Makhubele said the case is being handled by the family violence, child protection and sexual offenses unit but could not immediately give details.
The incident is one of 361 sexual misconduct cases committed by educators on pupils that have been brought to authorities since 2016. The ELRC said it has received and heard 13 sexual misconduct complaints against teachers in the past two months.
In the ruling on March 30 against the teacher, ELRC said the pupil who was in grade 8 in 2016 had approached her teacher about an error in her report card.
She found her teacher in the administration block. “After sometime the complainant was called by the teacher and another. They told her that she had to have sex with them if she wanted her marks to be fixed. She refused…She was told to come back the next morning,” read the ruling by arbitrator Coen Havenga.
When she arrived at the school the following day she was told to go to the educator’s office where she was allegedly assaulted by the two men.
Havenga wrote that while the one teacher allegedly raped her, the other took pictures with his phone. "Before she left, they told her that they would kill her if she told anyone about the rape. She then left,” wrote Havenga.
The two men also allegedly also gave her birth control pills. She eventually told her father about her ordeal in 2018 when she wanted a transfer from the school. The matter was referred to the department.
“Her father took her to the police where she made a statement. The matter was not investigated. The police then sent her to the Teddy Bear Clinic [and] because of transport problems she only had one session with a social worker.”
The chairperson of the school governing body (SGB), Joe Sitjie, said they only became aware of the matter when the principal was suspended a month ago.
“I don’t believe these charges are legitimate because the same pupil initially claimed that she was raped by a lot of teachers but only two are eventually charged. Also, this matter was supposed to have been discussed with the SGB first before the police were involved,” Sitjie said.
Matlose Moela, senior manager for dispute management services at ELRC, said: “This rising trend is worrying and there is an urgent need of work to be done to educate all stakeholders about sexual abuse. One rape is too many.”
Cases of sexual misconduct against educators have been on the rise since 2016, with 99 cases being brought to the attention of the SA Council for Educators (SACE).
There were 78 cases reported in 2017, 93 in 2018 and 91 in the 2019/2020 financial year. In 2020, ELRC found 29 educators guilty.
SACE said such offences increased by 29 (43%) last year, resulting in 17 teachers being entered into the sexual offences register and being permanently removed from the profession.