Jeppe out to quell Park­town link

Teacher who al­legedly turned a blind eye to bul­ly­ing now board­ing house mas­ter

Saturday Star - - METRO - SHAIN GERMANER shain.germaner@inl.co.za

JEPPE Boys High School wants to al­lay par­ents’ fears af­ter it was re­vealed that two of its teach­ers were in­volved in se­ri­ous mis­con­duct dur­ing their re­spec­tive tenures at Park­town Boys High.

In Septem­ber, the Satur­day Star re­ported on the crim­i­nal trial of the wa­ter polo coach who mo­lested nu­mer­ous pupils at Park­town Boys, where pupils tes­ti­fied about the school’s al­leged dis­cour­age­ment of re­port­ing abuse on cam­pus. This “cul­ture of si­lence” was a key as­pect of the crim­i­nal trial, with the State al­leg­ing that the abuse of pupils was able to con­tinue un­abated be­cause learn­ers were too afraid to re­port it.

One of the com­plainants men­tioned that while matrics in­doc­tri­nated Grade 8 pupils into not be­ing “snitches”, it was a teacher, David Hansen, who al­legedly would turn away pupils who com­plained of bul­ly­ing or even phys­i­cal abuse in the board­ing house.

The same teacher al­legedly en­cour­aged matrics to beat Grade 8 board­ers af­ter they com­plained they were be­ing vic­timised. Hansen is also un­der­stood to be one of the ed­u­ca­tors in­crim­i­nated in a Gaut­eng De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion (GDE) re­port that found nu­mer­ous teach­ers guilty of mis­con­duct.

Hansen is cur­rently work­ing as a board­ing house mas­ter at Jeppe Boys, and af­ter last month’s me­dia cov­er­age of the al­le­ga­tions against Hansen, a group of par­ents and pupils ap­proached the Satur­day Star about their con­cerns.

One Jeppe pupil ex­plained that he and at least two oth­ers had filed com­plaints against Hansen in 2016, al­legedly for the same con­duct, wherein they were threat­ened with pun­ish­ment for re­port­ing in­ter-pupil bul­ly­ing and abuse.

Mean­while, an­other board­ing house mas­ter at the school, Bryan Hil­lock, was also in­volved in a shock­ing ini­ti­a­tion in­ci­dent at Park­town in 2009, where Grade 11 pupils were taken from their beds, marched to the rugby field, stripped naked and forced to rub Deep Heat onto their gen­i­tals be­fore lin­ing up against a wall and be­ing forced to run a gauntlet of ma­tric boys who beat them with cricket bats, hockey sticks and golf clubs. Hil­lock was al­legedly aware of the ini­ti­a­tion in­ci­dent but did not re­port it. He was later placed on sus­pen­sion.

In 2009, the GDE also con­firmed he had been in­ter­nally dis­ci­plined for hit­ting a boy with a hockey stick and forced to un­der­take an anger man­age­ment course.

Yes­ter­day, Jeppe prin­ci­pal, Dale Jack­son, said he only be­came aware of the al­le­ga­tions against Hansen af­ter the Satur­day Star’s re­port. How­ever, he said he did not wish to make a snap judg­ment and was still await­ing the GDE re­port that de­tailed the al­le­ga­tions against the teacher. He added that the con­cerns against Hansen in 2016 had been han­dled with the rel­e­vant pupils am­i­ca­bly.

GDE spokesper­son Steve Mabona con­firmed that the re­port would be pro­vided to the rel­e­vant schools in the next week, and said the de­part­ment sup­ported Jack­son’s de­ci­sion. Re­gard­ing Hil­lock, Jack­son said he be­lieved that the board­ing house mas­ter was “re­ha­bil­i­tated” and that in the six years he had been teach­ing at Jeppe, he had not re­ceived a sin­gle com­plaint.

The prin­ci­pal cat­e­gor­i­cally de­nied that there was a cul­ture of si­lence at the school and that the school had done its ut­most to give pupils nu­mer­ous av­enues to re­port abuse or bul­ly­ing, in per­son or anony­mously.

Mabona said the de­part­ment was par­tic­u­larly pleased with the anony­mous com­plaints por­tal es­tab­lished by the school in re­cent years, and that it would like to im­ple­ment such a sys­tem at other govern­ment schools.

Jack­son said he was deeply con­cerned that par­ents and pupils at the school had ap­proached the me­dia in­stead of the school ad­min­is­tra­tion, and said he hoped they would feel com­fort­able enough to speak with him about any is­sues in the fu­ture.

BONGANI SHILUBANE

ONE of the pa­trons who at­tended the Pre­to­ria Sun­rise Ro­tary Club’s an­nual Open Gar­dens Fundraiser in Lyn­nwood this week.| African News Agency (ANA)

Jeppe Boys High School

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