Two teachers have been fired for misconduct after sexually inappropriate behaviour with female pupils.
In the first case, a history and Sesotho teacher at a Gauteng secondary school tried to kiss a grade 10 girl and caressed and kissed another.
In the second case, a teacher at a KwaZulu-Natal primary school enticed a 15-year-old pupil to his house and had sex with her.
The two men are just the latest in a string of teachers whose dismissals for sexual misconduct with pupils have been confirmed in recent months by the Education Labour Relations Council.
NJ Taaso, the fired teacher at Bophelong Secondary School in Vanderbijlpark, had a “consistent pattern of conduct and modus operandi … in dealing with learners that caught his fancy”, said arbitrator Mark Hawyes.
“[He] utilised psychology, seduction tactics and grooming to weaken the learners’ resolve to resist his advances and obtain their cellphone numbers,” said the finding.
One of the girls he targeted said she was alone with the teacher when he asked if he could kiss her and remove the lipstick from her lips. “He then placed her on the table but did not kiss her. Instead he touched her on the breasts and hips,” said Hawyes.
After she told her parents what had happened and they reported Taaso to the school, the teacher visited the family home three times.
“On the first visit the employee asked her for an apology. On the second visit, the next day, [he] asked her father to go to the school and report that it was a ‘misunderstanding’. Her father was unwilling to do that.
“On the third occasion the employee came with other people. Her father told her that they were beginning to annoy him.”
[He] did not only foist his unwanted sexual attentions on one learner but two. This in itself shows a consistent pattern of conduct
The second girl told the hearing that Taaso asked her to go to his office and fetch his lunch box. He followed her into the room, “quickly kissed her on the mouth and grabbed her by the arm. She got scared and ran out of the office,” said Hawyes.
“After the incident, [Taaso] changed towards her and made fun of her in front of the class, making negative insinuations about her appearance and financial status.
“During exam time for the third term the employee approached her again and asked what she likes to drink and what places does she like to visit after hours. The names of taverns were mentioned. [Taaso] also asked her repeatedly for her cellphone number which she refused to give him.”
The girl reported Taaso after hearing that the other pupil had made a similar complaint.
Taaso pleaded not guilty, but Hawyes said: “When I posed the question to the employee during cross-examination, why two learners had falsely fabricated charges against him, he could not give any reason why they had done so.”
The arbitrator said the two girls had impressed him with their “candour, demeanour and the content of their testimony”.
Taaso’s appeals to the parents of the first girl were “a blatant act of self-interest and an unwarranted interference in an ongoing departmental investigation”, said Hawyes.
“The misconduct committed by [Taaso] is serious and prevalent. [He] did not only foist his unwanted sexual attentions on one learner but two. This in itself shows a consistent pattern of conduct over a period of time.
“Had it not been for the [the first girl’s] brave revelations and the actions of her parents to bring the matter to the attention of the school, it is probable that [the second girl’s] complaint may never have seen the light of day.”
In the second case, Indawana Primary School teacher Nyameko Makaula did not deny having sex with the 15-year-old but denied raping her.
Arbitrator Vuyiso Ngcengeni said the distinction was immaterial for the purposes of the hearing because “the main charge is that of him having had sex with the learner”.
The pupil at the Umzimhulu school said Makaula, who taught her isiXhosa and social science, arrived at her home one night in July 2020 and lured her to his house with a promise of R50.
He made her lie on his bed and raped her multiple times, the girl told Ngcengeni, before giving her money and allowing her to leave the following morning.
“She went home and reported the matter to her grandmother, who told a number of people within the community. They then reported to the local chief and then to the police station,” said the finding.
Makaula, 47, said he and the teenager had consensual sex and he had been acquitted in court of raping her.
“He apologises for what he did and he believes that it was just a moment of madness. He does not agree that he destroyed the learner’s future, because [she] said she is now OK and was not traumatised,” said Ngcengeni.
The arbitrator said Makaula knew the girl well and probably understood her “financial condition”.
In light of this, “I am of the view that [he] planned the events. His claim that what transpired was just a momentary lapse … is implausible.
“The fact that he went to the gate of the learner’s home at night … has all the hallmark of a well-planned activity.”
By Dave Chambers -TimesLIVE