Gauteng teacher loses job over inappropriate conduct
A teacher who was fired after allegedly hugging and expressing his love to a Grade 9 pupil has lost his legal challenge against the decision. The natural science teacher has worked for the Gauteng Department of Education since 2016. However, following a complaint of sexual harassment in February 2019, the teacher was placed on a precautionary transfer pending investigations into the allegations as reported by IOL. The complaint alleged that the teacher had hugged and kissed a Grade 9 learner on her forehead, called her “baby”, and told her he loved her.
The pupil testified that the teacher had a habit of “high-fiving” students at the end of class but that at the beginning of the third term, the teacher insisted on giving her a hug, which she thought was “fatherly.” The pupil said the teacher continued to hug her, and other students started insinuating that she had an inappropriate relationship with him. The teacher also invited her to see him during her free periods, which she never did.
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The pupil’s mother noticed her daughter’s behaviour had changed and asked her aunt to intervene. The pupil revealed her concerns to her aunt, and the mother reported the matter to the school principal. The teacher denied kissing the pupil but admitted telling her he “loved her for being ‘open, brave, and honest’ about her private life.” The teacher also claimed that the pupil’s allegations were part of a “third force” plan to remove him from the school.
The arbitrator rejected the teacher’s defence and ruled that his conduct was inappropriate and of a sexual nature. The Johannesburg Labour Court subsequently ruled that the teacher’s dismissal was appropriate, citing his refusal to take responsibility for his actions and blaming unnamed third parties for his situation.
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Photo: Facebook / @The Labour Court, Braamfontein, Johannesburg