Three teachers at a school outside King William’s Town are being investigated by the department of education for allegedly sexually abusing pupils.
The department says the pupils claim the alleged sexual abuse started last year.
Sister newspaper Daily Dispatch learnt about the allegations when pupils staged protest action last week over a number of grievances – among them sexual abuse, corporal punishment and a food nutrition programme they claim was not implemented properly. Pupils at the protest claimed the teachers were sleeping with pupils.
Education spokesman Loyiso Pulumani said “instability” at the school was brought to the department’s attention by the principal on May 9, a day before the protest.
Pulumani said this was the first time the department was alerted to the sexual abuse allegations.
“During the protest we sent the district officer to the school to investigate what was happening.
“After the sexual abuse claims were made to the officer, counsellors were immediately sent to the school and parents were informed.
“The parents gave consent for counselling and the psychologist and learner support facilitators counselled these learners and still continue to do so,” Pulumani said.
The Dispatch understands that the teachers accused by the pupils were still at the school.
However, a staff member said one of the teachers had not returned to the school since the protest.
“We still need to interview the teachers. Disciplinary process will be instituted against the culprits on conclusion of the investigations,” Pulumani said.
When the Dispatch arrived at the school yesterday, Equal Education organisation members were standing outside, while school staff and learner representative council (LRC) members met in a classroom.
After the meeting, the pupils came out saying they were not comfortable speaking about the meeting.
One of the LRC members said their problems were being “taken care of” and would not speak further to the Dispatch.
This was the same pupil who was vocal last week during the protest and spoke out about the allegations made against the school.
The principal also would not speak to the media. The school governing body (SGB) chairwoman said: “ I was shocked when these children said they were being violated. I can’t say whether they were lying or telling the truth. Only they know.”
Asked whether the SGB was investigating these allegations, she said “no”.
None of those who spoke to the Dispatch are being identified in order to protect the identity of the school and possible victims of sexual abuse. Tiso Black Star Group/DispatchLIVE/SISIPHO ZAMXAKA and ARETHA LINDEN