The Covid-19 pandemic has put a halt on the South African Council for Educators’ (SACE) disciplinary procedures against teachers, but the council’s CEO expressed her concern about “very serious psycho-social issues” to Parliament.
SACE on Tuesday presented their annual performance plan to the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education and the Select Committee on Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture.
SACE CEO Ella Mokgalane told the committees that, under the Covid-19 lockdown period, the investigations and disciplinary hearings “will not be executed as planned due to the inevitability of social contact, travelling by teachers and learners, as well accessibility of learners as witnesses during school closure.
“This may contribute to a very slow turnaround time, rolling over many cases to the next financial year, and delaying justice on the part of the children,” reads her presentation.
“An assessment of online sessions, such as video link and its admissibility were explored. However, its disadvantages outweigh the advantages, particularly the reliance of a regulatory enquiry approach, which seeks to put the conduct of an educator accused of professional conduct to the test, and children are involved as witnesses.
“This often makes virtual systems of prosecuting cases very complex to conduct.”
She added that there were legal questions about the admissibility of virtual testimony.
She said parents refused to release their children for hearings during the lockdown.
She asked the MPs to consider giving SACE “more teeth” – as they may sanction teachers, but some simply move on to other schools.
“We have a very serious psycho-social issue within the teaching profession,” she said.
She told the committee of a case where a female teacher would cut students with a razor, after penetrating them with a vibrator.
“That is some of the things… you can say you are dealing with psychopaths, with people existing in a different world.”