Reddam places David Mackenzie on precautionary suspension after News24/My Only Story podcast

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David Mackenzie.
David Mackenzie.
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  • A teacher and coach resigned from St Andrew's College in June 2018 after signing out pupils from the school's clinic without authorisation.
  • The school had been set to convene a disciplinary hearing when he abruptly resigned. 
  • He is now at Reddam House Bedfordview, which placed him on precautionary suspension pending an investigation. 

Reddam House Bedfordview in Johannesburg has placed one of its teachers, David Mackenzie, on precautionary suspension amid reports of his abrupt exit at a former employer in 2018.

"Although, at this stage, we have no evidence of any breach of our staff code of conduct, we have placed the staff member involved on a precautionary suspension, pending the outcome of an investigation," Reddam House headmaster Stephen Hazley said in a communique to parents on Thursday.

The school confirmed the communique to News24.

Hazley made parents aware of an investigative report by non-profit company My Only Story and News24.

The podcast and article published on Thursday detailed Mackenzie's exit from St Andrew's College (SAC) in Makhanda, the Eastern Cape.

Mackenzie's lawyer was not immediately available for comment.

Earlier this week, News24 sent an extensive list of questions to the teacher's legal representative, which went unanswered.

The lawyer has threatened legal action.

In the second episode of the My Only Story: Back to School podcast series, Johannesburg writer Deon Wiggett revealed Mackenzie resigned from SAC after facing disciplinary charges over an unauthorised incident.

EXCLUSIVE | 'We can still do things': Top school's coach quits ahead of hearing for sneaking pupil out

He had signed a boy out of the school's sanatorium and was not authorised to do so.

Hazley informed parents staff at all levels at the school was subject to "rigorous background checks" before being employed.

"We can confirm that, as with all our employees, all of these checks were conducted and carried out with regard to the staff member concerned and that references were obtained from both his previous schools," he said.

The principal added checks on staff included criminal checks, two reference checks, an affidavit confirming that individuals had no criminal record and other checks aligned to the Child Protection Act.

A former teacher at SAC and head of Armstrong House, Graeme Lucas-Bull, told My Only Story he was first alerted to the fact the pupil was missing when Armstrong House's deputy housemaster called him.

He said:

What is happening is that he [the pupil] has been removed from the sanatorium by David Mackenzie, and he has apparently given the sanatorium the excuse that his father has given him permission to take him out of the sanatorium into his [Mackenzie's] care, which I found bizarre because that doesn't happen.

An investigation got under way and after Mackenzie received the charges of the disciplinary hearing, he resigned.

SAC's headmaster, Alan Thompson, told News24 the teacher had signed two boys out of the sanatorium.

He said Mackenzie was suspended on 7 June 2018, pending a disciplinary hearing but resigned with immediate effect before it could convene on 11 June.

During the investigation stage prior to the hearing, Lucas-Bull confiscated the pupil's phone.

He found messages between the pupil and Mackenzie that he collected as part of his investigation, which he considered "hair-raising".

In the exchange, which News24 has seen, the teacher, among other texts, says to the pupil: "If I wasn't like I am, this wouldn't have happened. But this is impacting my job. I want to talk to you every day and see you every day. We just have to be clever now … nothing changes between us, I promise! We can still do things. You can come and visit when you saying you are visiting [redacted]…"

Mackenzie moved to Grey College Bloemfontein around July following his resignation at SAC.

He started at Reddam House Bedfordview in January 2021, according to the school.

"We subscribe to international best practice and regard the safeguarding of our children and students as our main priority. We take incidents or allegations of inappropriate behaviour extremely seriously, and our policy is geared to deal urgently and swiftly should an incident ever arise," Hazley said.

For transparency, he added if the school community was aware of any incidents or concerns it should contact him.

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