Shocking claims denied

2017-09-06 06:01
Negative media reports surround the shocking teenage pregnancy rate at the Bothithong High School. Photo: Lecrecia Prins

Negative media reports surround the shocking teenage pregnancy rate at the Bothithong High School. Photo: Lecrecia Prins

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The Northern Cape Department of Education has denied the recent media reports that at least 30 learners of the Bothithong High School in Kuruman are currently pregnant, and some by teachers.

It was said by the MEC of Education, Martha Bartlett, during a press briefing that there are currently six learners pregnant at the school, ma­king the pregnancy rate 15 learners at the Bothithong High School over the past three years.

The investigation, according to the department, revealed that there are no teachers implicated in impregnating any of the learners.

Three teachers were, how­ever, implicated for allegedly making improper sexual advances towards learners and arrests have been made by the SAPS.

According to the department, an investigating team was dispatched to the school following the shocking reports that were published on Thursday (31/08).

The team was tasked with gathering sufficient information to assess and inform decisions regarding disciplinary processes against implica­ted teachers.

The aim was also to provide counselling to the affected learners and staff.

“In terms of the Disciplinary Code for Educators (Schedule 2 of the Employment of Educators Act no 79 of 1998), in cases of alleged serious misconduct, the employer may suspend the alleged perpetrator to ensure that the witnes­ses are not intimidated or unduly influenced,” explained Bartlett.

The department has already drawn up preliminary precautionary suspension letters for the three affected teachers, in which they are requested to provide reasons as to why they should not be put on precautionary suspension.

This is a mandatory process in terms of precautionary suspension procedures where they are given five days to respond.

Bartlett said the investigation was still ongoing and the department remained committed to the protection of the rights of all learners and to ensure that all legislative processes are followed based on giving everyone a fair opportunity to state their case.

“It is important to note that criminal procedures and disciplinary processes are different and is governed by different legislation. The burden of proof in a criminal case is beyond reasonable doubt, and in a disciplinary case it is on a balance of probability. In the event that charges are withdrawn in the criminal case, it does not mean it has any bearing on the disciplinary case,” elaborated the MEC.

She added that the suspension of the educators had been done in terms of Item 6 of Schedule 2 of the Employment of Educators Act (Disciplinary Code for Educators), which states: “In the case of serious misconduct in terms of Section 17, the employer may suspend the educator on full pay.”

However, in the case at hand, Bartlett did admit the seriousness of the allegation which relates to Section 17 of the Employment of Educators Act.

“The purpose of the suspension is to ensure that the learners in question are protected from possible further emotional and physical distress, to ensure that there is no tampering with witnesses and that the department’s name is not brought into disrepute.

“Once the process of investigation is completed, the employer will only then decide on any further action to be taken in this matter.”

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