Ditau Secondary School is so infested with sex pest teachers that learners claim only two are not guilty of making sexual advances to them. This is a township public school which obtained position five in Shatale Circuit with 36.7% matric pass rate and a minimum age intake of 13 years.
This emerged during an investigation that started last year. The climax came recently when learners were locked out of school for being late.15-years old Maureen Lebyane* complained about a teacher known to this newspaper who she said was harassing her. “If I go to class now he will call me and demand sex for being late. Even if he meets me in town he still asks me when am I going to give it to him”, she complained. The teacher in question is married with two young children.
A former learner of another Shatale school Lorraine Sedibe* (23) was impregnated by her school principal seven years ago. “He started off befriending my brother who participated in a lot of school activities. Before I knew it he was proposing me. We have a child together”, she says. The principal as well is married with children.
Another Bushbuckridge learner Mpho Theko* (20) who also dated her school principal says, “whenever we went for school trips I would spend the day before and after with him. I have a one year old child with him”.
The issue of teachers who sleep with learners and later threaten them with failing if they don’t comply has been a burning issue in Bushbuckridge with nobody, including political formations and civic bodies wanting to tackle it. “The problem is that these teachers buy groceries for these children and the parents are benefitting. Immediately you try to interfere you are being asked if you will provide for the family and whether you have evidence that they are sleeping together?”, a frustrated civic leader who sits on one of the school’s governing body said.
Asked why would anybody agree to sit on the body if they have no intention of remedying the situation another SGB member said it’s something that needs teacher unions and female teachers to decide that it should stop. “These male teachers abuse these girls infront of the female teachers and their reasons have always been that they will take their own kids to white schools where teacher discipline is high”, argued Patrick Nkuna*, who teaches at Casteel’s Reti High.
It has gotten so ugly that another principal and a science teacher who prides himself of having slept with almost all his learners over a twelve year period are currently embroiled in a love triangle with a former learner they both started dating while still in school. “it’s so comical that the teacher will come to see the girl, immediately he leaves the principal arrives and badmouths him for sleeping with learners at the school”, said a neighbour who is a confidante of the woman.
At the end it is the school learners who fail since it is difficult for them to concentrate in an environment where almost all the male teachers want to sleep with them. Schools with similar reputations in Bushbuckridge include Lehlasedi, Serisha, Alfred Matshine, Sekhukhusa, Letshele and Sedibeng which is a higher primary school.
Asked about the scourge two years ago Mpumalanga SADTU Chairperson Mr. Solwako Mahlangu was evasive. He told this newspaper that while it is against the union’s Code of Conduct to sleep with learners they don’t keep a database of offending teachers who are their members. “We deal with each case as it comes, but we are not in the business of keeping statistics”, Mahlangu said.
South African Council of Educators empower parents to object if their background check of an educator indicates that they have been found guilty or cited for sexual offences in the past. SACE Code of Conduct binds teachers to ‘eliminate unprofessional behaviour such as teacher-pupil relationships, drunkenness, drug use, assault, sexual harassment and others’.
Mpumalanga Department of Education spokesperson Mr Jasper Zwane was not available for comment on whether they keep statistics and whether they make them available to schools prior to hiring a new teacher. This is information that unions would do best to make available to employers, if only they kept it. This is a story we will be following throughout the year.
* Names have been changed to protect the sources