ISSUE AT HAND: TRANSPARENCY, RESPECT AND SENSITIVITY FROM THE SCHOOL
COMPILED BY: VUMA REPUTATION MANAGEMENT
ISSUED TO THE SUNDAY TIMES
06 MAY 2017
Thank you very much for offering our school the opportunity to reply to the questions put forward and work with The Sunday Times during the past week. Our School Governing Body has been available to the media, parents and learners throughout this sensitive issue and is fully transparent at all times.
The first question is unfortunately factually incorrect. The day after the accused was arrested, the Master in Charge for the water-polo at Parktown informed the accused through an e-mail that his services as a coach at the school were terminated. It was after this that our Master in Charge for water-polo brought the matter to the attention of the Gauteng Water Polo in November. The school had absolutely no knowledge of the incident before the accused’s arrest was made on 03 November 2016. There has been no cover up by the school.
On the morning of 04 November 2016, we informed the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE). We provided immediate and ongoing counselling and psychological support to the learners concerned, and have continued to engage with their parents. A senior representative from the GDE’s psychological services visited the school and is still working closely with us.
We would like to reiterate that the accused was suspended immediately from the school when the school uncovered the footage and the accused was arrested and jailed, where he currently remains.
The School Governing Body (SGB), are a group of professionals who have been dealing with this sensitive issue for the past 6 months and engaging with all stakeholders involved. As soon as the situation reached the courts, we realised that media would be involved. As the SGB we found it professional to deal with a media engagement agency as we personally do not have the experience to deal with media directly.
We have been open in our communication at all times through our newsletter and face-to-face engagements, which is distributed to all parents and learners, while ensuring maximum protection to the affected individuals.
The school has implemented the following actions:
- CCTV cameras were installed during the course of 2016 to ensure the safety of all students at the school.
- The footage captured on CCTV was reviewed by a Senior Boarding Master, who immediately alerted the principal of the school, who along with the chairman of the school governing body together went to the school and reviewed the footage
- Upon seeing the footage, and the unlawful incident, the SAPS were contacted and immediately responded, arresting the perpetrator, an assistant boarding master.
- The Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) was contacted and have been involved throughout this process.
- Ongoing counselling and phycological support has been provided to the learners and parents throughout.
- The school body was addressed and a newsletter sent out, regarding the “code of silence” and that in matters involving crime must be brought to the attention of the school.
- An independent investigator was appointed to ensure 100% transparency throughout the process.
- Parents and learners affected have been met with and updated of the situation constantly.
- School policies and procedures are being revised to ensure that the constitutional rights of learners are always maintained, and these are communicated to all learners, parents and staff.
- The Senior State Advocate has requested and been provided with specific information, and will at all times be kept in the loop.
- Names of learners and parents have been withheld to ensure anonymity throughout the process, and this will be maintained.
As a school, we have zero tolerance for any form of crime against, or threat to, our learners at any time, and we are co-operating with authorities to ensure the full might of the law is enforced against the accused.
Chairman School Governing Body