- A Western Cape teacher was found guilty of eight charges of sexual misconduct.
- The Education Labour Relations Council has recommended the teacher's dismissal.
- He did not attend the hearing.
The Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) has found a Western Cape teacher guilty of eight charges of sexual misconduct and has recommended his dismissal.
In a ruling on 17 January, the council found that Zamani Edwin Nyaniso Diniso, a Grade 4 Mathematics teacher at a primary school in Plettenberg, had kissed and fondled 10 and 11-year-old pupils during the first quarter of 2022.
It was only in July that the pupils decided to come forward.
Diniso was suspended, pending the outcome of an inquiry.
During the inquiry, there was testimony from the school's acting principal, a fellow teacher, the head of the department (HOD) and nine pupils who were in Grade 4 at the school in 2022.
Diniso did not attend the hearing, but it proceeded in his absence.
The teacher testified that she was getting ready to teach the pupils when they told her they had something they wanted to speak to her about. They told her that Diniso hugged and kissed them and that he touched their buttocks.
The HOD testified that she was told Diniso would wheel his wheelchair over to pupils, put his hands between their legs, stroke their legs and buttocks and call them "babes" while they were working on the computer. When she questioned their male peers, the boys said they knew about it because the girls had talked about it.
The pupils later repeated their version to other staff members who were called to the classroom, including the principal.
When confronted, Diniso never denied the allegations but said there was nothing wrong with his actions "because some of the [pupils] did not get love from their homes, and they got love from him".
He also said he loved children, and that they loved him because he was in a wheelchair, they were the same size as him and they felt sorry for him.
One pupil testified that Diniso kissed her on the mouth and touched her buttocks. She said she asked him to stop but that his behaviour continued "multiple times for a long time".
Another pupil told the hearing that Diniso promised to take her to a bed and breakfast in Cape Town "for a honeymoon".
It was also revealed at the hearing that acting principal received a call from someone at a prison who told her that Diniso had put out a hit on her and another teacher. The person told principal that he was supposed to have carried out the hit the previous week but did not have the heart to do it.
Police then contacted the person, who confirmed that he had made the call.
However, when they went to Diniso's house, he had moved.
Analysing the evidence, panellist Alta Reynold said there were no substantive motives for why the witnesses would fabricate their evidence and versions.
Reynold accepted that Diniso had a clean slate before the allegations were levelled against him.
But she added that his failure to attend the inquiry and his disappearance contributed to the negative inference she had drawn and the probability that he was guilty of the charges.
"In light of the best interests of the child being paramount, no other sanction than dismissal would, in any event, have been appropriate since the employee can, as a result of his conduct, no longer be entrusted with the emotional and physical safety and welfare of, in particular, female learners placed in his custody," Reynold said.