Sex-accused teacher still on the roll

2014-08-26 00:00

A WELL-KNOWN Durban drama teacher remains on the professional teachers’ roll — despite being convicted as a sex pest over a decade ago.

As he faces a raft of charges relating to a child-porn scandal that rocked the teaching and performing arts fraternity last week, his official record remains spotless.

The Witness has established that over 500 000 registered teachers have not been screened for criminal records.

The 48-year-old man was remanded in custody yesterday after a brief court appearance and will remain behind bars until his formal bail application next week.

While he languishes in Durban’s Westville Prison, evidence against him continues to mount with more charges expected to be levelled when he next steps into the dock.

The teacher, who cannot be named until he pleads in the case, was arrested last week when a discreet drug probe at a top Durban high school unearthed evidence against him.

The dishevelled and unshaven teacher hung his head as he stood in the dock yesterday, as state prosecutor Nauchaad Harripersadh opposed bail.

“We will be adding additional charges to those already faced by the accused when he next appears,” he said.

The teacher was convicted of sexual assault in 2003, when an ex-pupil came forward after years of silence.

How he slipped through the cracks and maintained his pristine registration with the South African Council for Educators with his sex conviction is unknown.

Jaco Deacon, deputy CEO of the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools, said the only responsibility of a school when hiring a new teacher is to check if he or she is a “registered educator with the South African Council for Educators [Sace]”.

Asked if the school should also check whether the applicant has a criminal record, Deacon said not, as that was the responsibility of Sace. “But unfortunately that system is not working well, especially when it comes to educators who are on the sexual offenders list.”

Deacon added that according to current legislation, there is “no obligation on Sace to place a teacher who is a sex offender on the National Register for sex offenders or the Child Protection Register.

“That needs to be changed so that the names of people who should not be allowed near children should be available to school principals, school governing bodies and the education departments.”

The South African Council for Educators is set to take action against the teacher.

• jeff.wicks@witness.co.za, stephen.coan@witness.co.za

SOUTH African Council for Educators spokesperson Themba Ndlovu confirmed that the teacher remained on the professional roll of teachers.

“We have checked our system and he remains on the roll. Since his previous conviction for indecent assault and a new arrest has come to light, we have launched our own probe into his fitness to be registered,” he said.

Ndlovu said that a screening of new members had begun, but a full-scale audit of existing members was an “arduous task”.

“New members are screened against the Child Protection and Registered Sex Offender registries, as well as the police criminal record ­database. The screening of our existing 500 000 members is no small task,” he said.

Ndlovu added that irrespective of the outcome of the criminal case against the teacher, he would be called before a panel.

“We will haul him before a panel once our investigation has been concluded. The harshest possible sanction will see him being struck from the roll.

“The merits of each case need to be considered,” he said.

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