Public protector triggers sacking of sexual assault convict

12 March 2013 - 12:44
By SowetanLIVE

A KwaZulu-Natal primary school employee, serving a five-year suspended sentence for sexually assaulting a learner at the same school, has been dismissed after Public Protector Adv. Thuli Madonsela questioned his continued employment at the school.

Mongameli Gcwabaza pleaded guilty to charges based on his conviction late last month at a hearing that formed part of disciplinary proceedings instituted by the provincial Department of Education (the department). The sanction imposed was dismissal.

Gcwabaza was charged with sexual assault in June 2008 in a case that ended in his conviction two years later. Upon being charged, he was transferred to the Circuit Office of the department, only to be redeployed back to the school after his sentencing. The school cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim.

The matter came to the attention of the Public Protector when a concerned parent of a learner at the same school, but unconnected to the case, complained that Gcwabaza had been redeployed to the school despite his conviction. This prompted an investigation, which later confirmed the complainant's grievance.

During the investigation, the Public Protector obtained a charge sheet from the complainant, confirming Gcwabaza's conviction and sentencing. This was brought to the attention of the department.

However, the department could not accept the charge sheet, indicating that the name in the document differed with that of their employee. The employee's middle name was Stanislaus while the one in the charge sheet was recorded as "Dunstilosi". In addition, the charge sheet did not bear Gcwabaza's identity number. This could not prove that the person identified in the charge sheet was the same person in the department's employ.

Following this snag, enquiries were made to the Magistrate Court and the Circuit Office of the department, but these could not confirm the identity number of the person mentioned in the charge sheet as the number was not in the two institution's records.

The Public Protector subsequently contacted the principal of the school involved, who managed to provide investigators with Gcwabaza's identity and persal numbers as well as his full names.

The identity number was passed onto officials at Taylors Halt Police Station, with a request to furnish the Public Protector with a printout of the criminal record linked to the said number. The printout corroborated the information contained in the charge sheet.

A request was later sent to the department to confirm Gcwabaza's identity number; however, officials could only provide the Public Protector with his senior certificate, bearing an identity number matching the one in the criminal record printout.

The department was contacted and made aware of the developments, a move that prompted officials to write to the Public Protector, confirming that a disciplinary hearing against Gcwabaza had been set down for 25 February 2013.