A former school principal has failed in his latest bid to get his job back after he was fired by the Gauteng department of education for, among other things, sexually assaulting pupils and asking them to do virginity tests by letting him insert his finger into their vaginas.
Jimson Galebodiwe Motshoane, a former principal at Soshanguve Secondary School in Pretoria, has been on a relentless campaign to get his job back and clear his name after a disciplinary hearing in 2012 by the department of education found him guilty and dismissed him on allegations of sexual assault, corporal punishment and fraud.
Motshoane had worked as a teacher for 16 years, three of those as principal at the school. He was found guilty on four counts that allegedly took place in 2010 and 2011.
They included: sexual assault, fraud with regard to promoting pupils without following the prescribed policy, asking girl pupils about their virginity and hitting pupils. He was never arrested even though he was taken in for questioning by police.
After being dismissed by the department, he took the matter to the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC), challenging his dismissal as unfair and seeking reinstatement.
Motshoane said he was not afforded an opportunity to respond to the allegations during the investigation and that he was not given an opportunity to defend himself. He also disputed that he had committed any of the alleged misconduct.
But the ELRC found that the process was fair and ruled in favour of the department. Motshoane then approached the labour court in Johannesburg but the court dismissed his application last month.
Several teachers testified during the ELRC hearing that pupils had approached them with allegations of sexual assault by Motshoane, and that they did not feel comfortable in his presence.
One teacher said a pupil had told her that Motshoane asked her if she had a boyfriend and whether she had slept with him.
“She said the applicant asked her if she knew how exciting sex was. She said she told him she is still young. She said he asked her if she knew in Zulu culture girls are inspected and she said yes.
“He said he wanted to check her virginity. She told the witness she is uncomfortable in his class because of his actions,” reads the ELRC award documents.
The pupil, who was in grade 10 at the time, also testified at the ELRC that Motshoane asked her to accompany him to the Mabopane cemetery in Pretoria to help him to clean his brother’s grave.
It was at the cemetery that he told her that he loved her, touched her genitals and her breasts.
And in another incident, even though she had indicated that she was uncomfortable with his actions, he again touched her under her school shirt.
She left the school in February 2011 after Motshoane allegedly told other pupils that she was “easy” and that he had touched her private parts and she did not stop him.
Another pupil, who was in grade 11 at the time, also testified that Motshoane had called her into his office and asked her whether she was still a virgin. When she said yes, he said he was going to ask a certain woman who worked at the school to check her virginity.
She further testified that in another incident she was in the sick room when Motshoane entered and asked her again if she was a virgin and when she said yes, he asked if he could insert his fingers into her vagina to test. She refused and he got
In his defence, Motshoane said the allegations against him where a ploy to destroy him by a teacher he had demoted.He said all the pupils were lying and denied touching them or attempting to touch them.
He testified that he had a beautiful wife and could even take a second wife. He thus had no reason to touch girls.
He added that it was only a particular group of hostile pupils who had made the allegations against him.
On July 12 2013, the ELRC arbitrator, Coen Havenga, found that Motshoane’s dismissal was fair and that the disciplinary hearing that led to his dismissal followed a fair procedure. Havenga ruled that Motshoane was not entitled to any relief.
In the same month, Motshoane took the matter to the labour court for review, to set aside the arbitrator’s award.
At the court, Motshoane said Havenga had, among other things, ignored evidence before him, but the court disagreed.
In his judgment, acting judge Goosen said Motshoane’s conduct was “improper, disgraceful and unacceptable”.
The judge said Motshoane’s argument that the court should take into account that there was no evidence that the applicant inserted a finger into any of the complainants’ vaginas was “nothing less than staggering”.
“If the said argument aims to suggest that the applicant’s behaviour could only have been improper, disgraceful or unacceptable in circumstances that he inserted a finger in the said complainant’s vagina, such argument is rejected in the strongest possible terms.”
Goosen said the allegations against Motshoane were “extremely serious” and that the case was an example of one where a long service record could not compensate for the serious misconduct that he was found guilty of. Motshoane was employed in a position of trust as a principal and that the department had entrusted him with the safety of the pupils.
“The court is unable to find any reason to conclude that all the witnesses that testified against the applicant; with particular reference to the allegations relating to ‘sexual offences’; conspired against the applicant. There is absolutely no reason; based on the evidence; to find that all the said complaints had a motive to lie and in doing so, to ensure the dismissal of the applicant. Considering the above, the court finds that the applicant has failed to advance persuasive grounds for the review of the arbitration award issued herein,” reads the judgment.
The Mail & Guardian’s attempts to get hold of Motshoane failed as he did not answer his phone or respond to text messages.
Dark record of school sex abuse
The 2016-2017 annual report of the South African Council of Educators showed that 99 cases of sexual misconduct and rape in schools were reported to the council that year.
Of this number, Mpumalanga had 25 cases, KwaZulu-Natal had 18 and the Western Cape had 17.
In the previous year’s annual report, 97 such cases were listed. The Western Cape led with 23, followed by Mpumalanga with 20 and Gauteng with 13.
In January, pictures and videos of the principal of Reiger Park Secondary School in Ekurhuleni having sex with girls in his office went viral on social media, with members of the teaching staff also being implicated. The principal resigned after the videos surfaced.
Last year, it was also alleged that 87 pupils were sexually assaulted by a scholar patroller at AB Xuma Primary School in Soweto. The 57-year-old is still in custody.
The Employment of Educators Act states that a teacher must be dismissed if found guilty of theft, bribery, fraud or seriously assaulting a pupil with the intention to cause grievous bodily harm. The Act also states that teachers found guilty of sexual assaulting or having a sexual relationship with a pupil must also be dismissed.
Teachers who are found guilty of having sex with a pupil are struck off the roll of the South African Council of Educators and are barred from working as a teacher in the country.