Principal, management removed from Gauteng school after alleged sexual assault by scholar patroller

Johannesburg – The principal and the entire senior management of a Gauteng primary school have been removed with immediate effect following allegations of sexual assault at the school, the Gauteng department of Education said on Thursday.

The department said this was "necessitated by the seriousness of the allegations of sexual assault" of about 54 learners by the school’s scholar patroller. 

The department said it had since established that the number of pupils alleging sexual assault had risen to 83.

The name of the school is known to News24 but has been withheld to protect the identities of the children.

The patroller was arrested on Monday and appeared at the Protea Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.

He was remanded in police custody until his next court appearance on Wednesday, October 18.

"It is with great sadness to inform you that we have just received a confirmation from officials that the number of sexually assaulted pupils at the school has increased to 83," said the department's spokesperson Steve Mabona in a SMS.

The department will soon engage with the School Governing Body to establish reasons why they should not be dissolved.

An independent body has been appointed to investigate all allegations levelled against the principal and her management.

The department said it was satisfied with the counselling process conducted by a multi-discipline team, made up of officials from the department, departments of Social Development, Health and the Teddy Bear Clinic.

"We remain grateful to all stakeholders especially the Teddy Bear Clinic and our Psycho Social Support Services. I am grateful that the department has prioritised this matter and we will leave no stone unturned. We will continue to closely monitor the situation,” said Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi.

Lesufi had said the suspect, who is in his 50s and is known to the community, allegedly began assaulting the children, ranging from Grade R to 7, in February.

According to the department, it was only on September 26 when a grandparent reported an incident to the principal and all teachers were instructed to question the pupils.