A petition calling for a Grade 11 Camps Bay High School pupil to be expelled has been started after two female pupils at the school accused him of sexual harassment.
In a letter addressed to parents, guardians and pupils on June 5, principal Dave De Korte, said the incident happened just before the start of the nationwide lockdown.
He said the two female pupils laid complaints with the school’s disciplinary committee.
The girls were provided with counselling.
He said the boy appeared before a disciplinary hearing.
“After hearing all the evidence, the hearing decided that the accused would go through a process of external and internal counselling, be obliged to do community service work with organisations dealing with sexual abuse, report regularly and be under supervision of his Grade Head. Added to this he would serve 50 hours of Saturday detentions,” he said.
The online petition started by Tiffany Williams, signed by 2 000 people, argues that a total of eight statements were collected and brought to the disciplinary hearing.
However, only two were used as the other six were either anonymous or happened off campus and therefore did not prove sufficient enough to push for expulsion.
Mr De Korte said the school stands firmly against any form of harassment and is aware of its responsibility to create an environment where pupils feel safe. “Looking forward, I’d like to remind you that we offer all girls, including those who decided not to attend the hearing, the opportunity to hear any further evidence of any misconduct and that being the case, we will act on any information provided to us.”
In another statement released by Mr De Korte on Friday June 13, he said the boy pleaded guilty to the two charges at the hearing and received a set of “sanctions and remediation interventions” that were the most severe internal consequences the school could give.
“We have been advised that disclosing the exact nature of the charges or the exact sanction would be breaching the confidentiality of the hearing procedure and compromising the position of those in the hearing who shared information in a confidential setting.”
He said he met with Grade 10, 11 and 12 pupils in two separate meetings: one on campus and one virtually, where concerns were raised. “The two main concerns were that the punishment was too light, and secondly that the girls on campus were worried about their safety should he return. As for the first concern, the decision has been made objectively based on all the facts presented to the Discipline Sub-Committee and ratified by the full Governing Body,” he said.
He said after consultation with the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), they have taken their advice to report this incident to police for their own investigation.
“As we have not heard back from the WCED regarding the possibility of returning to school earlier than the Gazetted date, and so we have postponed the proposed early return of the Grade 11s until we hear from the WCED. This will give us time to come up with a comprehensive management plan of the boy’s time on campus, if and when he returns,” he said.
WCED communications director Bronagh Hammond confirmed the incident.
“The school immediately took action, given the seriousness of the alleged offence. The learner had to appear before the SGB disciplinary committee. Following the hearing, the committee decided that the accused must go through a process of external and internal counselling, a series of detentions and community service work with organisations that deal with sexual abuse. The school has also engaged with the parents of the learner.
“The school has asked if there are any more females that would like to come forward to do so, so that any further evidence could be heard,” she said.