Parents oppose the release of a Durban teacher accused of sexually harassing students.
The 55-year-old man, whose name has not yet been released because he has not yet spoken out, is said to have been raped or attempted to rape at least four students at a high school in Clermont, west of Durban, where he was employed as a trades teacher.
The teacher appeared in Pinetown Magistrates Court on Wednesday to plead his to formally request bail.
He faces eight counts — six counts of rape, one count of sexual grooming, and one count of exposing a student’s genitals to another student.
He was arrested on April 23 on the school premises, according to police spokesman Const Thenjiswa Ngcobo, he is said to have raped a 16-year-old student.
After his arrest, other people initiated proceedings against him.
The state refused an Freilas
Defense Attorney Mxolisi Mkhize said the defendant should be granted bail as he suffers from a chronic illness.
“He has type 2 diabetes and underlying conditions, including migraines. He will also likely face an internal hearing by the Department of Education that will not be conducted fairly if he is incarcerated,” he said.
Asked by the judge to explain how unfair hearing the defendant would be on bail should be denied, Mkhize said his client would not be given enough time to consult lawyers throughout the process.
“As a first-time offender with no pending cases against him prior to this case and no DNA evidence linking him to the crimes , the prejudice he is likely to suffer if detained will affect his rights,” Mkhize said.
Const Siboniso Mtshali, the investigating officer, filed an affidavit on bail.
< p>Mtshali said the complainants and witnesses in the case would be afraid to come forward if he were released.
It would be in the teacher’s own interest to remain behind bars as the community of vo n Clermont was angry with him.
“The complainants were afraid to come forward about previous threats, but more people have come forward since his arrest and we have reason to believe more are to come [if he is not granted bail]. The victim also reported the matter to the police too late because she was afraid,” he said.
Since the teacher’s arrest, the case has received a lot of attention in the Clermont community.
< p>Students with placards demonstrated outside the court.
Mkhize said the defendant was willing to relocate and stay away from Clermont during the trial.
“There is no evidence of threats I am a customer, so only from hearsay. Nonetheless, these fears can be allayed as my client is willing to move in with his brother and honor any bail conditions imposed by the court,” he said.
The defendant is a married man with seven children , including three at the university, all dependent on his salary.
“He is a full-time employee with four minors and four other dependents at his disposal. It is difficult to find employment in SA and these matters are likely to drag on for a long time,” Mkhize said.
However, the prosecutor said there were hospitals in Westville where the accused could receive medication .
“He was supposed to be the parent to the students, but he took advantage of that.”
A decision on bail is expected on Friday.
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