A former Grey College teacher who was implicated in the alleged sexual assault of minor boys in a podcast by one of his victims has closed his business and his whereabouts are unknown.
The podcast, My Only Story, by Johannesburg-based advertising copywriter Deon Wiggett has been a weekly feature on News24 since November 7.
In the podcast, Wiggett revealed that he was sexually abused more than 20 years ago at age 17 by a man he refers to as “Jimmy”.
Jimmy was a teacher at the prestigious Grey College in Bloemfontein in 1989 and 1990 before he abruptly left. Wiggett has been reaching out to other victims in an attempt to build a strong case against Jimmy.
Jimmy’s identity, the name and location of his business, as well as his residential address are known to News24, but are being withheld on legal advice.
Wiggett revealed on Thursday that five more former pupils have come forward with accounts of alleged sexual assault by the same man.
Jimmy left teaching to become a corporate executive before starting his own business a few years ago.
Wiggett attended school at Paul Roos Gimnasium in Stellenbosch and crossed paths with Jimmy after the latter had left teaching.
On Sunday, Rapport reported that Jimmy closed his business last week and retrenched nearly 30 employees. He has since closed all his social media accounts.
His cellphones have been switched off and News24 has been unable to reach him.
His sudden disappearance comes despite not being specifically named in the podcasts or any of News24’s reports.
According to Rapport, Jimmy arrived at his office on Monday and announced that the business was closing owing to “financial reasons”.
News24 could not locate Jimmy at his office or residence last week. His company, which until Tuesday was seemingly still operational, has also disabled its website, disconnected its phones and its offices were empty when News24 visited the premises on Wednesday.
Grey College has denied knowledge of allegations of sexual misconduct against Jimmy, but has notified the provincial education department about the matter.
Deon Scheepers, Grey College’s headmaster, said the school community was shocked by the allegations.
“We hope that the incident will be thoroughly investigated by the authorities and that, should there be merit in the allegations, the guilty party will be punished. No one at Grey College approves of this and the school will cooperate fully.
“The allegations have also been brought to the attention of the education department. The specific allegation had not been brought to the current headmaster’s attention,” Scheepers told News24.
The school has, however, not been able to provide details about Jimmy’s tenure at Grey and has not responded to requests for information from the school’s records or personnel files.
The chairperson of the school governing body, Henry Buchner, said: “Apart from condemning such incidents in the strongest possible terms, I have no knowledge of any facts relating to this specific allegation and I cannot comment.
Ingo Machts, a teacher and housemaster at Grey College, told News24 he worked with Jimmy and lived with him in one of the school’s hostels, Brill House. He was, however, not aware of any sexual assault complaints against Jimmy.
He could also not recall why Jimmy left Grey College, which is considered one of South Africa’s top educational institutions.
Dr Michau Heyns, who was headmaster from 1980 to 1992, could not recall Jimmy nor the circumstances leading to his departure when contacted by News24.