A 51-year-old Pretoria primary school teacher is facing criminal charges and an internal probe after he allegedly molested several pupils at a farm school.
Some of the pupils, aged between 11 and 16, have detailed how the teacher allegedly fondled them and slipped his hands into their pants, touching their private parts in front of classmates.
The alleged indecent took place at Kodumela Primary School in Pyramid, north of Pretoria, over several months.
Two weeks ago, pupils complained in class about the teacher’s alleged behaviour. Last week, two parents opened cases of sexual assault against the teacher with the police.
One of the victims’ parents said: “My son came home in August to tell me that the fondling had not stopped after he first told me about it in January. He told me that parents were called to the school after other children spoke out.”
The woman said: “My son said that he and his friend were sitting at the back of the bus after attending a pupil’s funeral when the teacher came over to him and slipped his hand in his pants and started touching his private parts.”
The woman said when she first heard about the incident she initially did not act because of fear and disbelief. The pupils reported the matter to another class teacher.
The mother said the school called parents to address the matter.
“I was later called into the meeting but could see that my son’s demeanour had changed. Then during the meeting, a woman from the SGB (school governing body) said to my son, ‘all your friends have changed their minds about what you said. Now you are left alone and [the teacher] has lawyers, so you must change your statement’,” she said.
The school, located on a plot in a farming area, is primarily used by the children of farm workers. According to a whistle-blower, the teacher has been reported by nine children in grades 5, 6 and 7.
Another mother said her child also reported a case of abuse last month.
“Early in August, my son came home with torn pants on the side; when I asked what had happened, he told me that [the teacher] put his hand in his private parts and when he protested, he slapped him.”
The mother said she initially brushed off her son’s accusations out of fear.
“I arrived late at the school [meeting] after work and they had brought people who said the matter had been resolved … without us meeting the teacher,” she said.
A 12-year-old pupil also said the teacher touched her inappropriately in April.
“He tucked in my shirt and touched my private parts. I did not know what to make of it, I was confused,” she said.
Gauteng police spokesman Captain, Mavela Masondo, confirmed that cases of sexual assault were being investigated against the teacher.
“So far we have complaints by two learners and have not made any arrest,” Masondo said.
When the Sowetan team visited the school this week there were officers conducting investigations.
Another alleged victim said: “It was in February when we were sent to the office to pack the feeding scheme milk. We were about five and we found him [the teacher] busy with paperwork.
“Then he came and asked us if we were packing nicely. He then came close to me as if he was playing with me and touched my penis. When I tried to push him back he wanted to hit me. He told the others to look aside.
“I told my mom a few months later because I was scared [the teacher] would hit me. Later, a white lady who came to question us said I was lying and colluding with other pupils to get the teacher fired.”