Bryanston High School employee arrested, suspended following sexual abuse allegations

2019-01-29 05:27
(File)

(File)

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A 33-year-old Bryanston High School employee was arrested last week and appeared in the Alexandra Regional Court, Sandton police confirmed.

This was after a 17-year-old pupil at the school and her mother opened a sexual offences case.

The man, whose name is known to News24 but which cannot legally be disclosed, has also been suspended from his job, pending the finalisation of a disciplinary hearing.

It's understood at least three female pupils have come forward with allegations against the man, whom they describe in statements as a "father figure".

The alleged incidents of sexual assault were said to have taken place throughout 2017 and 2018, during netball matches and on school outings. A parent of one of the complainants confirmed this to News24. 

The man is also facing an additional charge of financial mismanagement. It's alleged he was receiving money from pupils and their parents, but was not depositing the funds into the school account as required. 

Investigation launched

The school governing body (SGB) issued a statement in which it confirmed that the employee, who was involved in sports coaching at the school, was employed by the SGB and had been suspended.

"This matter is of grave concern to the school as the safety and well-being of learners are a priority."

An independent lawyer was appointed to investigate the allegations and further disciplinary proceedings are going ahead.

The Gauteng Department of Education and South African Police Services (SAPS) have been advised of the situation and an internal investigation has been launched.

"This matter is currently being investigated by SAPS and as such no further information may be provided to the general public or media. The school can however advise that the staff member has been suspended pending resolution of this matter. The investigation was conducted by an independent senior attorney who has extensive experience in the relevant field.

"Their investigation has been concluded and the school governing body (SGB) chairperson and the headmaster of Bryanston High School have consulted extensively on this matter. Arising from this investigation, formal disciplinary proceedings against the staff member concerned have commenced," said the SGB.

However, the SGB stressed that the allegations remained unproven and all parties were being treated "with empathy and compassion" and in keeping with their basic fundamental rights.

Zero tolerance stance

"Parents of affected learners have been notified personally by the chairman of the SGB together with the headmaster, Mr Skelton. Professional counselling has been made available to the learners concerned," it said. 

The Gauteng education department said it sent its psycho-social unit to the school to provide counselling.

"The department has a zero-tolerance stance on allegations of sexual assault and has never hesitated to act where allegations of this nature are proven true," spokesperson Steve Mabona said.

"According to education legislation, sexual relations between any staff member and any learner at school are totally forbidden, even if the learner consents to sex. We encourage learners never to listen to anybody who tells them not to tell, for fear of victimisation. Learners must report such incidents to their parents, police or any other trusted figure of authority."

The employee's disciplinary hearing is scheduled to take place on February 5 and 6.

Sandton police spokesperson Captain Granville Meyer, said the man was released on bail and the criminal case was postponed to March 12 for further investigation.

Read more on:    bryanston high school  |  johannesburg  |  sexual assault  |  education  |  sexual abuse
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