Questions glaring over predator’s post

2014-08-22 00:00

QUESTIONS are being asked about how the teacher at the centre of a child pornography probe continued working as an educator despite a previous conviction.

The Durban teacher’s previous indecent assault conviction emerged in his court appearance yesterday.

The teacher, now employed by a leading Durban school, had previously worked at Maritzburg College.

The school principal now employing the teacher said they were unaware of who had employed him before and of his earlier conviction.

“He came in 2004 and I have looked at all the paperwork,” the principal said. “His transfer was supported by a clean transfer.”

The principal said the transfer “was a State position transfer which means we did not ‘vet’ the [teacher’s] appointment”

The school had not checked his name against the National Sex Offenders Register and the Child Protection Register as they only came into place “around 2007.”

A Maritzburg College spokesperson said the principal would not comment on the conviction, as he had only recently been appointed. He had no knowledge of the teacher or the indecent assault conviction.

When asked to comment on the previous conviction and subsequent transfer, chief KZN’s Education Department spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi responded “noted” via a text message.

Earlier he told The Witness the department would launch its own investigation.

Troy Martens, spokesperson for the national Basic Education Department, said “given the previous conviction, the teacher should have been struck off the register.” This is the professional register of teachers maintained under the auspices of the South African Council for Educators (SACE).

The teacher is well-known in Durban’s theatre industry and the allegations have sent shock waves through it.

Caroline Smart, a well-known actor, director and promoter of the arts in the city was shocked.

“As a director or a teacher you develop a strong relationship with your cast or pupils,” she said. “Drama brings people together in a fairly close relationship unlike a classroom situation. Emotions are explored; a mutual trust developed and confidence built even in the shyest individual.”

Psychologist Clive Willows said child sexual abuse abused both trust and power. “It’s an abuse of ... power and creates a particular characteristic of the relationship. It’s not easy to say no to a person in authority.”

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