- A Langlaagte Technical School teacher accused of drugging and raping a Grade 8 pupil has been found not guilty by the Education Labour Relations Council.
- The teacher was arrested and spent more than 30 days in jail but charges against him were withdrawn.
- The Education Labour Relations Council ordered him to return to work.
A Gauteng school teacher accused of drugging and raping a Grade 8 pupil at his office has been found not guilty and ordered to return to work.
On a balance of probabilities, the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) said it was not proven that the natural science teacher at Langlaagte Technical School had raped the pupil.
According to the ELRC, the pupil had accused Emanuel Bruce Barden of drugging and raping her in September 2021.
She said that on the day of the alleged incident, her class teacher had sent her to the office to fetch a class register.
On her way back, she met Barden in the corridor, who then asked her to follow him to his office.
The pupil said when they entered Barden's office, he offered her a cold drink in a cup, which she drank.
She alleged that she felt drowsy after drinking it.
The pupil said Barden took her to his office table, tied a brown tape to her mouth and hands, and raped her.
She said the teacher threatened to kill her if she told anyone about the incident.
The pupil said she only told her friend at school that she had been raped. The following day when her mother asked "why she was asleep and looked drunk", she told her what had happened.
A criminal case was opened against the teacher, who spent more than a month in prison before the charges against him were withdrawn.
The pupil was taken to hospital, where it was apparently confirmed that she had been raped.
During his testimony before the labour council, Barden pleaded not guilty. He told the council that he had never dated any pupils and viewed them as children.
He further testified that he shared an office with another teacher and found it "bizarre" that he would be accused of raping the pupil in his office, which was also used by someone else.
The teacher said when he was arrested, he went through a "period of shock" and had hoped the pupil would retract the allegations.
In his ruling, the ELRC's Monde Boyce said the pupil gave contradictory versions.
Boyce said while the results might have concluded that the pupil was raped, there was "no basis that exist[s] on which I can conclude that it is the employee that raped [the pupil]".
"This would be primarily because teachers stand in the place of parents and while learners are at school, teachers' responsibility is that of looking after the welfare of learners, and any unbecoming conduct by a teacher or a teacher engaging in inappropriate conduct with learners should not only be frowned upon, but such a teacher should be harshly dealt [with], and such a teacher would further... be prevented from ever teaching.
"This would happen even in circumstances where he was criminally found not guilty, or the charge of rape withdrawn by the prosecuting authority."
Boyce found Barden not guilty and ordered that he be allowed to resume his duties.
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