Principal and team removed from school for “concealing” sexual abuse of pupils

The Gauteng department of education has removed the principal of the primary school in Soweto where over 50 pupils were allegedly sexually assaulted by a guard.

The department announced this afternoon that the principal and her management team had been removed with immediate effect.

This comes after it emerged that the 57-year-old security guard at AB Xuma Primary School in Orlando East, Soweto had sexually assaulted 54 pupils at the school, some as young as six years old and in grade R as far back as in February.

The department said the number has now risen to 83. 

The man was arrested on Monday night after a parent had alerted the school that her child had been abused by the man. He appeared in the Protea Magistrate’s court yesterday and has been remanded in police custody and will appear in the same court again next week Wednesday.

Spokesman for the department, Steve Mabona, told the Mail&Guardian that the principal and two heads of departments would report to the district office until the investigation into the allegations against them has been concluded. He said removing them from the school was to make sure that they do not have contact with the pupils while the investigation is ongoing.

“We removed them because there are allegations that they knew about this and kept quiet and also discouraged pupils from talking about it or reporting it to their parents,” said Mabona.

In the statement, the department said it will soon engage with the school governing body to establish why it should also not be dissolved.

The department has already appointed an independent body to investigate the allegations the principal and her management team.

It also added that it would “leave no stone unturned” in establishing how the violation of the pupils happened at the school.

The Orlando police said so far 10 parents whose children were victim of the crime opened a case.

The police said after the parent had complained to the principal that her child had been violated, the principal asked teachers to question all girls and it emerged that 54 had been sexually assaulted by the man they affectionately called mkhulu (grand dad).

Bongekile Macupe
Bongekile Macupe is an education reporter at the Mail & Guardian.
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