The 55-year-old has managed to convince the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court to grant him bail, and that he will not abscond, or intimidate victims or any witnesses. He has also been requested to hand in his passport.
The Gauteng department of education has placed him on precautionary suspension with pay.
The suspect is expected back in court on March 7 while investigations into his alleged conduct continues.
The investigating officer, Johanness Mkhondo, on Wednesday submitted to the court that he is still interviewing possible victims, which may see more charges added onto the accused’s charge sheet.
The latest development was not welcomed by the Gauteng education department.
“As the department we are obviously devastated. We really believe that it [suspect’s release] would put the lives and the evidence of the 20 learners at risk. We have got confidence in the justice system,” MEC for Gauteng Education Panyaza Lesufi told News24.
Lesufi said they were however hopeful that the matter would be treated with caution to avoid a similar situation like that of the AB Xuma case.
“It’s a very serious matter. We have almost 20 learners coming forward and we do not want to go back where we were, where we had a patroller who was also accused but was set free purely because of mistakes that were made by the law enforcement agencies,” he said.
Former AB Xuma Primary scholar patrol guard in Soweto, Johannes Molefe, 58, was acquitted in December 2018 of three counts of rape and 11 of sexual assault in the Gauteng High Court sitting in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court.
The alleged abuse at the Valhalla Primary school came to light in January when members of the Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) visited the school to teach learners about abuse.
Pupils confided in the officers, alleging that the suspect was inappropriately touching them. The officer informed the principal who alerted the district office.
The teacher joined the school in 2017 after he was appointed. He was then permanently appointed in January 2019 by the department.
The incidents dates back to 2017 and 2018, according to police spokesperson Colonel Lungelo Dlamini.