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Soweto teacher dismissed for the alleged repeated rape of a learner

A Soweto principal and a teacher allegedly took turns raping a learner in the principal’s office. While the teacher raped the learner, the principal would take videos and pictures of them; when it was the principal’s turn, the teacher would do the same. 

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The rapes, at a high school in Braamfischerville, began in 2016 when the learner was 13 years old and in grade eight. 

In March, the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) found the teacher guilty of misconduct for raping a learner, in terms of the Employment of Educators Act, and recommended that he be dismissed.

This week, the Gauteng department of education told the Mail & Guardian that the principal had been suspended. 

The learner, now 17, testified that she had noticed that certain marks on her second-term report card did not match those on her test script. She took the report card to the school’s administration department to ask that her report card be amended. 

The teacher took her report card and test script into the principal’s office and later called the learner to the office. The teacher and principal told her that she had to have sex with them if she wanted her marks corrected. She refused. The teacher and principal told her to come back to the office the next day.  

“They threatened her by saying if she did not report [to the office] the following morning, her parents would not see her again,” reads the ELRC arbitration award.

She arrived at school early the next day and tried to hide from the pair, but the teacher saw her and told her she had to go to the principal’s office “if she wanted to live”. 

“When she entered the principal’s office, the principal was also present. They told her to take off her panty. She wore a skirt. They told her to lie on top of the principal’s desk. 

“The principal then first undressed. He took off his pants. He then put his penis inside her vagina and raped her. He put his hand on her mouth so that she could not scream for help. 

“While the principal raped her, [the teacher] took pictures with his phone. When the principal was done, [the teacher] continued to rape her while the principal took pictures of [the teacher] raping her. They did not use condoms. Before she left, they told her that they would kill her if she told anyone about the rape. She then left,” reads the arbitration award. 

The next day the teacher and the principal gave the learner a pill. She testified that she believed the men had given her a morning-after birth control pill. She was also given a corrected report card. 

The learner alleged that the two men raped her every morning for the entire week. 

“One day, when she had her period, [the teacher] raped her in the sick room. The principal was not present then. The principal and [the teacher] continued to rape her the next year when she was in grade nine. She thought that they would stop, but they did not,” the arbitration award reads.

The learner reported the alleged rapes to the school’s institutional development and support official and asked that she be transferred to another school. She also requested that she be allowed to write her final exams at another venue. The learner was placed at another school in 2019.

Her father also took her to the police station, where she made a statement, but the matter was not investigated. Instead, the police took her to a clinic for blood tests and a pregnancy test, and then referred her to the Teddy Bear Clinic for Abused Children

Both men denied they had raped the learner. They said the learner had fabricated the story, and they did not know why she would falsely accuse them. 

“[The teacher] testified that … he never knew her before she made the allegations. She is a chronic liar. He denies that he took advantage of her request to have her marks fixed. He cannot explain why she selected him out of all the male educators to accuse falsely. He cannot explain why she requested a transfer,” reads the arbitration award. 

The arbitrator, Coen Havenga, said the learner had been consistent in her testimony: she did not contradict herself and was a reliable witness. 

Havenga added that the learner had provided a lot of detail about what the teacher allegedly did to her. 

“I find it highly improbable that such a young child would fabricate such an elaborate version and then randomly choose [the teacher] to accuse him of rape, while he did not even teach her. I find it improbable that a fabricated version would even involve the principal,” he said. 

He also questioned why the teacher claimed that he did not know the learner before the allegations and yet testified that she was a “chronic liar”. 

“It then begs the question: How would he know she is a chronic liar?” he said. 

The M&G asked the department why the teacher and principal were dealt with in separate cases. 

The spokesperson for the department, Steve Mabona, said the charges could not be dealt with simultaneously because the charges against the principal were inconclusive. 

“It was only during the [teacher’s] case that evidence came to light indicating that, indeed, [the principal] has a case to answer. [The principal] was, accordingly, placed on suspension and charged,” he said. 

In April, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga gazetted the terms and conditions of educators’ employment under the Employment of Educators Act concerning the prevention of re-employment of those found guilty of misconduct or who resigned before disciplinary action was taken.

According to the new regulations, teachers found guilty and dismissed of sexually assaulting a learner are banned for life from the profession.

If you need counselling for rape or sexual assault, you can call the Rape Crisis 24-hour helpline on 021 447 9762 or the Lifeline 24-hour national helpline on 0861 322 322.

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

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