Educator found guilty of sexual assault of a learner

An educator, has been found guilty of sexual assault and misconduct with a learner. Picture: Chippy Devjee

An educator, has been found guilty of sexual assault and misconduct with a learner. Picture: Chippy Devjee

Published Jun 24, 2024


By Sinovuyo Mbatani

An educator, Sabelo Dladla, has been found guilty of sexual assault and misconduct with a learner at Mxhume High School in Ntabankulu, Eastern Cape.

The incident occurred in March 2021, but was only reported to his work place in 2023. He did not attend the arbitration on May 30 and 31, instead he sent a medical certificate.

The pupil was 18 years old at the time of the incident, and later gave birth to a child. The pupil said she knew Sabelo as her Mathematics teacher at school and testified that the teacher professed his love for her and asked for her cell number. She said she refused as she was surprised that her teacher would propose to her.

He persisted and even communicated with her on Facebook and she then decided to give him her cell number. She said the teacher would call at night because he said he did not want their relationship to be known.

Although she could not recall the exact date, she said that she went with the teacher and another man to a tavern called Bro Move Tavern. She said there the teacher bought her Savanna, which she initially refused.

She said she drank the Savanna later when they went to the teacher’s home.

She said she could not recall how many she drank but added that she blacked out. She testified that “when I woke up at about 3am, I was naked and asked what happened”.

She said the teacher told her that “I did not force myself to you”. She told the court that she had not consented to having sex with him because “I was too drunk after drinking the Savanna he bought me”.

She said the teacher took her home, left her at the gate and gave her R200. He asked her not tell anyone, she said, adding that there was no further communication between them.

In June 2021, the learner's mother discovered her daughter's pregnancy and confronted the teacher, who initially admitted to impregnating the learner but later denied paternity and refused to take responsibility.

The learner’s mother, Nombulelo Mqondwa, said she was outraged. “He admitted to impregnating my daughter, but then denied it and refused to take responsibility. He even had the audacity to ask for damages to be paid in exchange for taking the child.”

The teacher’s abandonment of his fatherly responsibilities led to the learner's mother opening a case at the maintenance court, but the case files kept disappearing, and the teacher refused to pay maintenance. “I was tired of going to court, and that's when I reported the matter to the school in Lusikisiki,“ the mother said.

Commissioner Mbulelo Safa said that the teacher’s actions contravened the code of conduct for educators. “The evidence shows that the employee failed to maintain professional boundaries and engaged in sexual misconduct with a learner.

“He also failed to take responsibility for his actions and abandoned his fatherly responsibilities,” Safa said.

The learner's mother said she was relieved by the outcome. "I'm glad justice has been served.

“My daughter can now move on with her life, and I hope this serves as a warning to other educators who think they can take advantage of learners.”

His dismissal and the finding of his unsuitability to work with children sends a strong message that sexual misconduct and abandonment of responsibilities will not be tolerated in the education sector, the Commissioner said.

“The education sector must be a safe space for all learners, and we will do everything in our power to ensure that it remains so,” Safa said.