100+ sex complaints against teachers

Cape Town - More than 100 complaints of sexual misconduct were laid against teachers last year, according to the SA Council for Educators [Sace].

In its 2012/13 annual report, tabled at Parliament on Thursday, the council said it received a total of 556 complaints for various "alleged offences or breaches" between 1 April last year and 30 March this year.

Of these, 104 were for "sexual misconduct, including rape".

The council was established in terms of the Sace Act. According to this legislation, no person is allowed to practise as a teacher in South Africa unless he or she is registered with the council.

Other categories of offences listed in the annual report, including the number of such complaints laid against teachers, are:

- Verbal abuse, victimisation, harassment and defamation: 83;
- Fraud, theft and financial mismanagement: 65;
- Racism: two;
- Corporal punishment and assault: 182;
- Unprofessional conduct, alcohol abuse, absenteeism and insubordination: 115;
- Negligence: nil; and,
- Murder: two.

27 teachers struck off roll

The council said 319 of the total 556 cases were "finalised in forms other than disciplinary hearings".

A total of 57 disciplinary cases were finalised over the 12-month period.

According to the report, 27 teachers were struck off the council's roll of educators indefinitely.

Yet another was struck off, but may re-apply after a certain period, and a further 28 were struck off, but the striking off was suspended for a certain period.

On the number of appeals received from those struck off, eight were from those struck off the roll indefinitely for sexual offences.

Of the eight, five were finalised and the appeals dismissed. The other three appeals had been postponed.

On dealing with abuse of pupils by teachers, the council said one of the biggest problems was the general lack of co-operation by the parents of the abused children.

Parents’ responsibility

Parents had refused council officials’ access to the abused children.

"In some case, the abusers would end up being referred to 'as sons-in-law'," the report states.

This practice had negatively affected the council's operations.

"[E]ach year we have a lot of sexual abuse cases that are being carried over into the next financial year because they could not be closed."

It said the battle against the abuse of pupils would not be won "until such time that parents take the responsibility to protect their children and to support the Sace cause".
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