Pretoria primary school teacher suspended over sexual abuse claims

2019-02-06 11:26
Valhalla Primary School.

Valhalla Primary School. (Twitter)

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A teacher who allegedly sexually assaulted pupils at Valhalla Primary School in Pretoria is to be served with a letter of suspension from the school.

The 55-year-old man was not at school on Wednesday. It is alleged that the teacher, who joined the school in 2017, inappropriately touched 23 learners.

READ: Centurion teacher suspected of sexually abusing girls as young as 6

The victims were pupils in Grades 5-7.

Gauteng education department spokerson Steve Mabona confirmed the cases were reported on Tuesday, after parents became aware of the allegations.  

The abuse allegedly happened in June last year. The teacher will be moved to the district offices and won't be allowed onto the school property, after he recieves his suspension letter. 

The teacher joined the school in 2017 after he was appointed by the School Governing Body. His position was made permanent by the department this year. 

READ: Parents welcome NPA's decision to appeal scholar patrol guard's acquittal for rape, sexual harassment

The allegations of abuse emerged after members of the Tshwane Metro Police Department visited the school on January 23 to teach learners about sexual offences and abuse.

"The learners then confided in the officers that they have been touched inappropriately by the teacher. Officers reported that information to the principal who alerted the district. Twenty three learners claimed that they have been sexually assaulted by the teacher," Mabona said.

Mabona added that the school had to follow processes before it could suspend the teacher.

Silent suspension

"For now it is a silent suspension. He will be removed from the school to report to the district offices. The department can't pay people who are sitting at home. Currently, he is not in school, as soon as we get hold of him he will be directed to the district offices.

"Parents don't want to see him anymore in the school and we understand that. There are cases opened against him with the police. Police will work with parents. This is an urgent case that needs to be attended to quickly."

Mabona said they will also investigate why the case was only reported on Tuesday and should it be found that the previous acting principal and some teachers were aware of the allegations, action will be taken. 

"Our social workers are in the school to work with learners. The teacher will also face departmental charges. We are communicating with parents and there is no need for parents to shut down the school nor disrupt teaching and learning," he said.

Shocked

Parents who can't named to protect the identity of their children said they wanted the man far from the school and their children.

One parent, who has two children at the school, said on Tuesday afternoon she was shocked and demanded answers.

"I am very angry that the school kept such an ugly thing as a secret from us as parents. There is no communication between the school and us as parents. The knew about this thing and they tried to protect the culprit. We are not satisfied with the decision taken by the school. The school needs to improve its communication method," she said.

Another parent said her child can't be in the same school with the male teacher.

"What is going to happen with our children if he is back in school? What are the procedures to protect our children? We want to know what procedures will be implemented to protect our children," she asked.

Parents asked the department to probe if the teacher had faced similar allegations at schools he had previously worked at.

Committee appointed

Crime Watch activist Yusuf Abramjee said the school and parents have appointed a committee that will communicate with parents regarding the incidents.

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Read more on:    pretoria  |  education  |  crime
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