Drama teacher fired for sexually assaulting pupil in a taxi
A teacher has lost an appeal to overturn his axing for allegedly sexually assaulting a pupil.
The Education Labour Relations Council issued its finding against Wonderboy Simanga Ngwane on Tuesday.
Ngwane, who taught dramatic arts at Northbury Park Secondary School in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, allegedly sexually assaulted the 18-year-old girl in July.
He appealed to the labour relations council against his dismissal by the provincial education department, which he deemed unfair.
According to the council’s ruling, Ngwane taught the pupil. Though she is 18, she “requested that she testify through an intermediary because she was traumatised by the incident”.
“[She testified that] Ngwane was teaching her dramatic arts. On July 9 2020, she boarded a taxi to her boarding residence,” the council said.
“Ngwane was also in the taxi and was seated behind her. He asked her to lend him R20, which she did. He asked her to accompany him to his house and she refused.”
The pupil testified that the incident started with Ngwane touching “her hair, then her neck, her breast and her private part. She was shocked and instantly cried.”
She testified that Ngwane then took her “hand and placed it on his private part”. The pupil testified that she sent an SMS to her friend telling her what had happened in the taxi.
“She and Ngwane were the only passengers after people had jumped out of the taxi. The driver and the conductor were seated in the front seat of the taxi. Once she jumped off she sent another SMS to her friend,” the ruling read.
“She was crying and the other friends at the boarding house asked why she was so upset. She shared the incident with her close friends. [She] also stated that she discontinued attending the dramatic arts [classes].”
The incident was then reported to the school, the pupil’s parent, the child protection unit and the education department “for disciplinary action to be taken against Ngwane”. Ngwane failed to appear at his disciplinary hearing despite being notified.
Humphrey Ndaba, who chaired the appeal, said even though the assault happened outside school premises, “it falls within the category of offences that will attract discipline from the employer”.
He added: “Taking into consideration the trauma the complainant went through and the provisions of the Employment of Educators Act, a dismissal sanction will not be an act of vengeance but it will be an appropriate measure to ensure that learners are protected from potential acts of sexual assaults.”