A number of educators at Vaal High School, south of Johannesburg are now under investigation for alleged sexual misconduct. Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi has appointed a legal firm to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against the teachers and the principal at the school in Vanderbiljpark.
Allegations of sexual misconduct at the school surfaced on social media recently. However a teacher has told SABC News that she reported allegations of sexual misconduct against four of her colleagues to the district in August.
One of the learners who are accusing some teachers of sexual misconduct also spoke to SABC News.
“He was making sexual advances. He was saying he would personally want to be with me because I’m beautiful that’s what he said, he said I have a nice body. After that he said he can anticipate the awkwardness when schools open so I said don’t worry I’m a professional person and then he said to me if I’m so professional why can’t I give him a chance,” says the 18-year-old matric learner.
There are also allegations that a learner was forced to abort a teacher’s child in August. It appears that even former learners at the school had trouble with the staff because there are also allegations of an ex-learner who has a child with an educator.
Gauteng Education spokesperson Steve Mabona says the education MEC has decided to take up the matter.
“This emanates from a visit undertaken by the MEC and after interacting with the school management and some stakeholders he felt he needed to be provided with a report on how to proceed with the matter and we can confirm that after the report was presented he felt a law firm must be appointed.”
The school staff, who have been implicated, will still continue working at the school even during the investigation. When Lesufi was challenged about this, he said that he could not suspend them as he had nothing backing up the allegations.
The matter has raised temperatures in the schooling sector with student body Cosas saying that learners are becoming more courageous following the heightened awareness around gender based violence.
Cosas President Douglas Ngubeni says they see a number of these cases increasing.
“I think that even when we see that the numbers of these cases are increasing I believe there are still some learners in deep rural areas who are not able to speak because they have been threatened, or they have a mindset that if they speak against a teacher they will be expelled they will fail from school.”
Chairperson of Parents in School Governance Mahlomola Kekana says they are glad that learners are starting to come out about these matters. Kekana says however there should be formal campaigns based in schools to encourage learners to come forward.
“We are happy that children are now coming out, they have been very scared to expose these things because teachers and principals are threatening them. We also appeal to South African Council of Educators to act decisively and withdraw the licenses of the educators involved in this kind of things.”
Mabona says they have not given the legal firm a deadline as they want them to leave no stone unturned.