Shock at widespread of pupil abuse

Eighteen cases of physical and sexual abuse of pupils by teachers – 11 of them at primary schools – have been reported to the provincial department of education between 2015 and this year.

                                                Picture: GOOGLE

Of the 18 cases received, eight teachers were found guilty.

Two of them were fired for assault and corporal punishment;

One was ordered to pay a R23 000 fine for assaulting a pupil at an East London high school; and

Four were demoted and one suspended.

Of the remaining 10, four resigned and six cases are still not finalised.

This was revealed by education MEC Mandla Makupula in a written response to parliamentary questions asked by DA MPL Edmund van Vuuren.

Education spokesman Malibongwe Mtima said that four of the cases involved sexual assault and 14 were physical abuse cases.

“Eleven were teachers from primary schools and seven were from high schools throughout the province.”

According to Mtima, three of the teachers who resigned, were from Makaula Senior Secondary School in KwaBhaca (formerly Mount Frere) after they were charged with assaulting pupils.

The abuse of pupils at Makaula came under the spotlight after a video of a man assaulting pupils went viral on social media.

The Dispatch reported on the matter and upon visiting the school, a number of pupils spoke out about the horror inflicted on them. Subsequent to the Dispatch report, the Human Rights Commission (HRC) and the department investigated the matter.

In another matter, a teacher resigned after he was charged with sexually harassing a pupil from a Duncan Village high school.

The four teachers who were demoted, all faced charges of assaulting pupils.

The one teacher who was found guilty of assaulting a pupil at an East London high school, was fined R23 053, while another one who faced the same charges at a Jeffreys Bay school, was suspended for three months without pay.

The cases that were not finalised, involve corporal punishment allegations at Bhisho Primary.

Last year, the Dispatch reported about a teacher at Bhisho Primary whose methods of discipline had placed an 11-yearold pupil in hospital.

The methods of discipline included getting the pupils to do push-ups using their fists, squatting with their hands stretched out, planking and kneeling on the floor with their hands stretched above their heads.

The other unresolved cases include four assaults at Matatiele and Comfimvaba schools and one sexual assault of a pupil at an East London primary school.

Mtima said the reason for the unresolved cases was because of “the complexity of each of the processes”, delays and unavailability of the parties concerned.

To prevent such incidents at schools, Mtima said the department recently implemented a provincial cabinet resolution, together with the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), to have all teachers screened for sexual offences before they were appointed.

“In the 2017-18 financial year the department decided to include sexual offence screening in addition to qualification, criminal and citizenship screening,” said Mtima.

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