Rape, sex with pupils shock parents, society

PARENTS were left reeling with shock during the year after sexual scandals rocked some schools in South Africa.

PARENTS were left reeling with shock during the year after sexual scandals rocked some schools in South Africa.

Incidents of rape and sodomy led to an examination of safety in schools and who ultimately was responsible for the moral welfare of children.

Pupils were found to have used their cellphones to make pornographic films. There were also records of assaults and bullying. But perhaps most shocking was the eventual end to a sodomy trial that lasted almost eight years.

After a marathon trial, Theuns Botha, former principal of Hoer Volkskool Heidelberg, in Gauteng, was found guilty and sentenced to 11 years in prison for sexually assaulting his pupils about 20 years ago. He has been granted leave to appeal.

The Gauteng department of education belatedly suspended him. But the little town of Heidelberg still supports Botha.

l Five teachers at Makhumbuza High School in KwaZulu-Natal were charged with misconduct by the South African Council of Educators (Sace) following allegations of sexual encounters with pupils that surfaced in April.

The teachers were suspended after allegations that they were sleeping with pupils in the school laboratory. About 13 pupils pressed charges of sexual harassment against them. One teacher was arrested after police said they had enough evidence to prosecute.

The departmental investigation had earlier found four teachers not guilty of the sexual harassment charges and withdrew the charges against the fifth teacher after a pupil failed to attend the hearings.

Although the teachers were cleared of the charges, their careers depend on the Sace investigation, as the council could still find them guilty of misconduct.

Sace recently set up a database to record the names of teacher offenders who have been blacklisted, and those who have been found guilty of misconduct, sexual harassment and other cases that show disrespect for the teaching profession. Once entered on the database, such teachers are taken off the department's employee lists and would not be able to work in the education field again.

l A teacher at Scottsville Primary School was found guilty of maltreating a pupil, resulting in the pupil committing suicide.

Sduduzo Qulo, 13, hanged himself at his home in Pietermaritzburg because he did not want to go back to school to be taught by the "racist" teacher.

His mother, Nolwazi Dlamini, told Sowetan about the painful abuses committed against her son.

Provincial MEC for education Senzo Mchunu confirmed that the report of the findings was sent to both the mother and the school.

Dlamini said the report contained "the most hurtful and disgusting abuse" her child was exposed to.

"The report said the teacher violated the code of conduct and ethics of the teaching profession. The report revealed that the teacher had emotionally tortured the child so badly that he took a decision to end his life," Dlamini said.

She said the report describes how the teacher had on one occasion refused his son permission to go to the toilet and he was forced to wet his pants in full view of his classmates.

"The report describes how the teacher would sometimes refuse to let him eat his lunch. What disgusts me is that the teacher is a woman, a person who was supposed to be a mother figure to my son," said Dlamini.

The teacher called the boy names and made fun of the fact that he was older than others in his class, she said. The recommendations include that disciplinary action be taken against the teacher.

"Since the report was released the teacher is still working at the school and earning her salary, while my child is dead," she said tearfully.

l Students at the University of Venda accused lecturers and other staff members of dispensing high marks for sexual favours.

It was alleged that students who refused to do so were indirectly punished and were failed.

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