Ditau, which is implicated in this free-for-all child molestation together with Lehlasedi, Alfred Matshine, Sedibeng, Letshele and Sekhukhusa held marathon meetings from last week until Monday where sources say the management and teaching staff demanded that the matter be handled internally instead of an outside task team or inquiry being invited to probe. “They said that it is equivalent to the School Governing Body handing them over to a hungry lion and that their idea of an SGB was for a body that will defend them”, said a source who attended the five hour meeting.
“I said to them that we will put together a task team comprising police, a social worker, community leader and a priest to probe. Our approach would be to provide Suggestion Boxes where learners and educators can make their input without fear of being victimised. The submission will go into a report that we will submit to the department of education to act”, said SGB Chairperson Mr. Platus Mokoena.
This is the proposal that had lots of teachers hot under the collars. “what is more worrying is that while the suspects appeared resigned to the eventuality and contemplating taking severance packages the female teachers were the ones who were obstructive of the process, joined by few male teachers”, he added.
The department of Education has since reported that they have launched their own investigation. “We have instructed the (Bushbuckridge) regional office to give us a full report on the allegations and to tell us what is it that they have done to remedy the situation. And we will take it from there”, said spokesperson Mr. Jasper Zwane. He said the allegations are viewed in serious light.
The regional office confirmed that their labour section is liaising with the South African Council of Educators (SACE) and has instructed managers of both Shatale and Casteel circuits to also investigate.
However some community members have raised their cynicism with the department’s attitude towards teachers who molest learners since ‘the department has known about it for all these years but only waited for a newspaper to act as if it cares’.
In the 1990s Mr. Simon Mashego, a teacher at Ditau was sentenced to a prison term for murder and attempted murder after shooting to death a learner he was involved with. He reportedly found her in bed with her policeman boyfriend. That did not serve as a wake-up call to the department. A Sedibeng Primary School teacher was accused of raping a teenage learner and was later acquitted by the Mapulaneng Magistrate Court due to a technicality. “Even though evidence was led that there was under-age sex the department never pursued disciplinary for misconduct or even statutory rape”, a source protested.
Another concerned parent Mr. Steve Mashego wrote a letter to the SGB of Lehlasedi, “I hereby request the SBG to organise a meeting of the parents of all the pupils of the school as soon as possible to interrogate the newspaper report and restore the public image of the school”. Lehlasedi is one of the schools where tens of learners are impregnated every year, reportedly by educators.
“From what I see these people are not innocent. Heads must roll. Given the pregnancy rate at Ditau you can tell that these teachers are not even practicing safe sex. We expect SADTU as a responsible organistaion to also investigate and make sure the perpetrators are punished”, concluded Mokoena.