Abuse: school ‘acted quickly’

2017-06-01 13:45
The cleaner remains suspended as the investigations continue.

The cleaner remains suspended as the investigations continue. (File)

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The primary school where a cleaner allegedly sexually assaulted a pupil last week said it was “hamstrung” from charging the suspect with misconduct until the investigation was completed.

In a statement issued to The Witness on Wednesday, the chairperson of the school’s governing body also said the man was suspended the same day the incident was reported and would remain on suspension. He denied allegations that the Department of Education was not informed.

“A learner from the school complained about an incident that occurred on May 24, 2017, when she was allegedly inappropriately touched by a cleaner of the school. The complaint was brought to the attention of the principal, who immediately informed the governing body of the allegation,” the chairperson said.

According to the school’s statement, the chairperson issued a notice of suspension to the employee involved (the cleaner) the same day, reported the matter to the DOE and informed the parents of the pupil what had allegedly happened. “The parents were counselled and informed that they should report the matter to the SAPS without delay. The principal undertook to assist the parents in whatever way necessary.”

The governing body called a parents’ meeting for Friday, May 26, to appraise them of the incident and of the subsequent actions taken by the principal and governing body. The governing body also “immediately commenced with its own internal investigation into the allegations made by the learner and amongst other things consulted its CCTV footage of the day in question”.

The chairperson added, “I can confirm that there has been no tampering with the video footage and copies of the footage have been supplied to the SAPS for consideration.”

He said the cleaner would remain on suspension pending further investigations. Following on the meeting with parents last week, the chairperson said they have enlisted the services of an external security company to make suggestions and to further enhance the security system at the school “which was upgraded following the alleged tragic events of 2016”. The chairperson said the DOE had visited the school on May 30 to debrief the affected pupil’s class.

He added that “for the time being and until concrete evidence surfaces of any inappropriate behaviour on the part of the cleaner, the governing body is hamstrung from charging the cleaner with misconduct”.

The SGB chairperson also pleaded with the parents to “not be alarmed” about what they read in the newspaper or might have heard.

“Given the trauma our school community has suffered over the past 12 months, the governing body understands that there must be widespread panic. I hope this statement sets your minds at ease,” the chairperson said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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