Teachers 'pay off' parents
Seven teachers in Umlazi, Durban, who face sexual assault charges are likely to be let off the hook.
The teachers allegedly abused their pupils, the youngest of whom was reportedly a six-year-old.
But the KwaZulu-Natal education department said the cases might lead nowhere because the parents of some victims had made deals with the teachers and accepted payments for damages in the form of ilobolo.
A source told The Times there were as many as 20 sexual abuse complaints against teachers.
But provincial education spokesman Sihle Mlotshwa could confirm only seven cases, including that of the six-year-old.
"Most of these cases are continuing. However, our major challenge that leads to a low conviction rate is that parents of the alleged victims in most cases make some kind of deal with alleged perpetrators, thereby preventing or influencing victims not to give evidence that can lead to conviction," said Mlotshwa.
The victims were often afraid to testify against the accused because teachers protected each other and interrogated pupils in staff rooms to protect colleagues, he said.
"There is one case in the district where a teacher impregnated a pupil but paid ilobolo. And now they are about to get married.
"A recent case is a six-year-old pupil who was allegedly assaulted on her first day at school this year but she never received justice," Mlotshwa said.
A parent said yesterday that her child had been sexually assaulted twice at school.