Alex Matlala and Nyeleti Machovani

The Limpopo department of education has fired 54 employees, including principals, for being intimately involved with pupils.

The clean-up campaign has seen a sizeable number of teachers, principals and managers lose their jobs.

According to an audit by a private company, 151 cases of corruption and misconduct had been reported and dealt with.

The cases range from absenteeism, sexual harassment, embezzlement of institutional funds and insubordination.

The report shows that since January last year 45 cases of employees not reporting for work had been recorded.

The audit also shows that 45 cases of sexual harassment, 39 for embezzling funds and 18 for insubordination were reported and investigations had been concluded.

The sexual harassment cases included instances in which teachers were reportedly having sexual intercourse with pupils or had allegedly raped other teachers.

The report says that in certain cases teachers were found to have fathered their pupils' children. The law, according to the department, forbids teachers from having romantic relationships with pupils, irrespective of their age or agreement.

A total of 101 cases involved teachers, 28 school principals, 14 managers and 18 officials of the department.

Fifty-four of those found guilty in the disciplinary hearings were dismissed, 34 were charged and given final written warnings and 34 were either transferred or given written warnings.

Department head Zwo Nevhutalu said yesterday the department wanted to rid itself of people tarnishing its image.

He said the "unspeakable conduct" of some employees was poisonous and "dented" the department's image, which had been built up over many years.

He said the move to eliminate those working contrary to departmental policy was aimed at ensuring all employees "work by the book".

Departmental spokesman Ndo Mangala echoed his words. He said they hoped the move would help pupils perform better during the matric examinations this year.