Teachers will remain in custody until their bail hearing
TWO TEACHERS from Bothithong High School in Kuruman appeared in the Northern Cape town’s magistrate’s court yesterday after they were arrested on Friday following allegations by 30 pupils that they had been impregnated by their teachers.
Police spokesperson, Brigadier Mohale Ramatseba, yesterday confirmed that the two teachers were arrested by members of the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit (FCS) on Friday.
“The two teachers, aged 35 and 53, were arrested in connection with a case of sexual assault and attempted rape respectively,” Ramatseba said.
They appeared in the magistrate’s court and will remain in custody until their bail hearing.
A press conference was held yesterday by the MEC for Education, Martha Bartlett, who visited the school following reports that pupils alleged that they had been impregnated by their teachers.
Bartlett told journalists that a preliminary investigation, launched by the department shortly after the allegations emerged, revealed that no educators were implicated in impregnating pupils.
“However, the investigation did reveal that three teachers allegedly made improper sexual advances towards pupils.”
She added that the department had drawn up preliminary precautionary suspension letters for the three affected teachers.
“In the letters they were requested to provide, within five working days, reasons why they should not be put on precautionary suspension. This is a mandatory process in terms of precautionary suspension procedures,” Bartlett stated.
“The investigation is still ongoing and the Northern Cape Department of Education remains committed to the protection of the rights of all pupils, but it is crucial to ensure that all legislative processes are followed.”
According to Bartlett, the department has been informed that two of the teachers have been arrested by the police.
“Criminal procedures and disciplinary processes are different and are governed by different legislation.
“The burden of proof in a criminal case is beyond reasonable doubt, and in a disciplinary case it is on a balance of probability. In the event that charges are withdrawn in the criminal case it does not mean it has any bearing on the disciplinary case.”
According to Bartlett the purpose of the suspensions was to ensure that the affected pupils were protected from possible further emotional and physical distress, that there was no tampering with witnesses and that the department’s name was not brought into disrepute.
“Once the investigation is completed the employer will decide on any further action to be taken.”
Bartlett added that the department would continue to support all schools, especially in the John Taolo Gaetsewe District, through the Emancipation of the Girl Child programme, to prevent pupils from becoming part of the statistics and to actively engage boys and girls on the topics of teenage pregnancy, alcohol and drug abuse.
“The department will lead an integrated collaboration programme, involving the departments of Education, Health and Social Development as well as Lovelife over the next two weeks, targeting 10 schools in the district, including Bothithong High School.”
Bartlett, however, also used the opportunity to blame the media, saying that it was the department’s belief that the story had been blown out of proportion “as it did not contain accurate information on the status quo at this school”.
“The media alleged multiple pregnant pupils at Bothithong High School. According to our records, over the past three years at this school, 16 learners fell pregnant – two in 2015, four in 2016 and 10 in 2017.
“Currently at this school, there are six learners pregnant. Without a doubt, teenage pregnancy, especially in the John Taolo Gaetsewe District, is impacting on the quality of education negatively.”
The ANC Women’s League (ANCWL), in a statement issued yesterday, said that it was saddened by reports alleging that some educators had impregnated pupils at the school.