A teacher at Grassy Park Primary School who tickled or touched four female learners near their breasts was fired on sexual misconduct charges.
The maths and social science teacher at Sid G Rule Primary School was also deemed unsuitable to deal with children in a punitive Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) ruling.
Commissioner Jacques Buitendag further directed that a copy of the award be provided to the South African Council for Educators (SACE) so that the teacher’s certificate might be revoked. The occurrences happened between January and February.
One of the girls, aged 13, claimed that the teacher, 53, touched her under her breast while checking her mathematics homework.
She said, “No, Sir,” since she was uncomfortable.
According to the ruling of the ELRC, the girl testified that no one had ever touched her in such a way before, and the teacher never touched her again after this occurrence.
Another learner testified that she was doing her homework in February when the teacher touched her under the arm and next to the left side of her breast.
She stated that at first she thought he touched her in a nice manner, but that her opinion changed after learning that he had also touched other girls in the same manner.
The teacher pled guilty and said that he was aware of the rule prohibiting him from touching learners.
The instances, according to the teacher, occurred in the first few weeks of 2023, he wanted to make the learners feel more comfortable in his class and demonstrated how he tickled the learners.
He replied that he had done this in previous years, that there had been no complaints, and that none of the learners had shown discomfort.
The teacher stated that he had no intention of harming the learners and did not want this to be the end of his career after 30 years of teaching.
Buitendag went through the Code of Professional Ethics contained in section 3 of the Sace, Act 31 of 2000 and found that the teacher “failed dismally to conduct himself in accordance with the ethical standards expected from an educator”.
“Educators are entrusted with the care of children and they must act with utmost good faith in the conduct towards learners because society must be able to trust educators unconditionally with their children; (the teacher) has breached this trust. I find dismissal to be the only appropriate sanction in this instance,” said Buitendag.
Bronagh Hammond, a spokesperson for the Western Cape Department of Education (WCED), said the department was informed of the outcome and was working with the school.
“The said educator was on sick leave. The school was informed of his dismissal (sanction) and that a substitute teacher should be arranged for this week,” she said.
The principal described the teacher as a capable math educator, one of the best the school had.
On the other side, he should implement the WCED’s policies and guidelines and provide a safe environment for the learners.
He stated that educators were not permitted to enter the personal space of learners.