Parents were horrified to hear that a George teacher accused of sexual offences against minors managed to get two consecutive teaching posts in the Western Cape.
It seems Hendrik Fourie slipped through the cracks while he was out on bail after he was charged in August 2017.
He got a contract at an Athlone school and subsequently at a school in Table View.
Last Friday, the Thembalethu regional court sentenced Fourie to one-year correctional supervision and three years imprisonment, suspended for five years.
Bronagh Hammond, Director of Communications at the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), explains that in this case, the accused had not been working for the department when he was arrested.
We were not aware, he was actually working for an independent school.— Bronagh Hammond, Director of communications - WCED
If we are made aware of it, it is noted on our system.— Bronagh Hammond, Director of communications - WCED
However, if the department is not alerted of an accused sex offender who is out on bail, such a teacher would slip through the cracks, only appearing on its criminal register after conviction.
There is definitely a gap in that area, that's where the problem lies.— Bronagh Hammond, Director of communications - WCED
Obviously we have to look at innocent until proven guilty. Some people could be wrongly accused, but at the same time any parent would say, you don't want to take any chances.— Bronagh Hammond, Director of communications - WCED
Bronagh agrees that this problem is compounded if a sex offender moves to another province.
She says it's vital that everyone in the community works together to alert the authorities of knowledge of a sex offender, adding that she has apprised the provincial authorities of Fourie's case.
For more on this worrying problem, listen below: