Teachers employed by the education department may in future be randomly vetted to identify those who sexually violate pupils.
Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said he planned to discuss establishing this procedure with the national department and education organisations.
He was speaking outside the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court yesterday after a Valhalla Primary School teacher, 55, was granted bail in a case in which he is charged with allegedly sexually assaulting 24 pupils.
The Afrikaans teacher, a father of five from Soshanguve, has been employed by the education department for 27 years.
The court heard this week that pupils had complained previously to teachers and the deputy principal about his alleged sexual assaults.
When the teacher was reprimanded by the deputy principal, he had told her: “I’ll be careful, I’m a big boy.”
He was allowed to continue teaching the children he had allegedly assaulted.
Last week he handed himself over to the police and was charged with seven counts of sexual assault.
The charges increased in a matter of days to 24 as more pupils and their parents came forward.
The court heard that four more boys would make statements in the coming week.
Allegations that the school had not taken action after the matter was reported last year would be investigated, Lesufi said.
“We have appointed an independent team to investigate these allegations. We take these allegations very seriously which is why we want an independent team to probe the records and the people who reported the matter to get all the relevant information.
“I don’t want to prejudge it but I have received those reports as well,” the MEC said.
The teacher was granted R8 000 bail yesterday by magistrate Desiré Stigling on conditions that he would not contact the pupils, that he handed in his passport and that he would not enter the suburb of Valhalla in Centurion.
He has been suspended from the school.
The victims’ families were angry that the teacher got bail and Lesufi said he was devastated by the magistrate’s decision.
Education candidates are vetted before they are employed, but Lesufi said he would meet with other education MECs and Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga on March 7 to work out a new approach.
“We want to say to the minister that we need to approach the South African Council of Educators and the teachers’ unions to find out whether to have random vetting, not only at point of entrance, but also during employment.
“Presently we only vet teachers when they apply for a post. After getting the post, it becomes difficult to vet them again.”
The matter was postponed to March 7 for further investigations.