Sexual assault cases are on the rise in the country, with the most recent incident occurring in Pretoria with a teacher accused of sexually assaulting nine pupils.
The high incidence of teacher assault has resulted in the South African Council for Educators (SACE) urgently seeking legal opinion on condemning teachers found guilty of sexual misconduct in schools.
“Sexual misconduct cases are in fact a worrying factor to council and we have seen in the media these days a lot of strange reports of this sexual misconduct, which is quite a concern to council,” says SACE spokesperson Thembinkosi Ndhlovu.
According to Ndhlovu, the SACE’s legal department will soon be meeting with state advisors to consider publicising the names of educators found guilty of sexual misconduct.
“We’re looking at implementing a disciplinary action, that explicitly gives us the power to be able to disclose the people that we have found guilty of misconduct,” says Ndhlovu.
The aim is to ensure that the people who have been found guilty do not find themselves resurfacing in the profession
The 52-year-old teacher from the school in Pretoria has since been removed from the school while it investigates the matter. The accused is facing criminal charges after it was reported that he allegedly molested a number of students aged from 11 to 16-years-old.
Ndlhovu insists this process will allow teachers guilty of sexual misconduct at schools to be accountable for their actions as well as be banned from the teaching profession altogether.
"The aim is to ensure that the people who have been found guilty do not find themselves resurfacing in the profession. It’s a matter of trying to prevent who we feel as council are not fit and proper to teach,” Ndlhovu says.
According to Ndlhovu, the disciplinary hearings and publicizing of offenders is also to restore the profession of teaching in South Africa.
“It will not be a process where everyone will drag the person’s name through the mud. The aim is to disclose the facts so that broader society and the profession gets to have an understanding of who these people are who are no longer regarded as part of the profession.
“You will see a situation where some are dismissed from the public service and they resurface at an independent school and so on. We want to try and avoid that kind of scenario,” Ndlhovu says.