Sexual misconduct and assault among top transgressions by teachers

Aphiwe Deklerk Political reporter
Convicted serial rapist Amos Ngobeni is expected to be sentenced on Wednesday, December 12. One of his victims has told how the attack changed her life.
Convicted serial rapist Amos Ngobeni is expected to be sentenced on Wednesday, December 12. One of his victims has told how the attack changed her life.
Image: 123RF/Andreypopov

Assault and sexual misconduct against pupils are still among the top  transgressions committed by teachers across the country.

This can be seen in the 2020/21 annual report of the South African Council of Educators (SACE) which was submitted to parliament.

SACE falls under the department of basic education and its mission is to register fit-to-practise educators and lecturers, monitor ethical standards and promote professional teaching.

It said during this period, it received 443 new cases of misconduct against educators.

“[The] council observes with concern the nature of the cases received as follows; 25 of them were assault of learners, four were for employing unregistered and unqualified educators, three were for sexual misconduct against learners and the balance were for discrimination, theft of school funds, and so on It is worrying that corporal punishment of learners still takes centre stage,” reads the report.

The cases quoted were for June 2021 alone. The report said there were a further 106 cases reported after June showing incidents of assault and sexual misconduct not only against pupils but among educators themselves.

“The highest form of misconduct registered against educators was assault of learners, colleagues and department officials, with a total of 34 instances,” read the report. It said sexual misconduct involving pupils and colleagues was at number two, with 25 cases reported in the period.

The report showed that some newly qualified educators who applied to be registered had criminal records which included shoplifting, assault, murder, drunken driving and assault.

Other would-be educators were arrested after it was discovered that they had faked their qualifications.

“In ensuring that schools and colleges employ educators and lecturers who are fit to practise, all the 2020/2021 registrations were screened against the police criminal record database and the department of justice and constitutional development national register of sexual offenders.

“Only 13 out of 60,285 applicants were found to have criminal records ... Among others, criminal issues identified from the criminal records of newly qualified educators and student teachers were ... assault, murder, theft/fraud, substance abuse, shoplifting, drunken driving and others.

“Additionally, three South African and four foreign national registrants were arrested and blocked from the SACE registration system due to the submission of fraudulent qualifications,” read the report.

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