South Africa: Sexual Assault Charges Against Teacher Dropped After Five Postponements

Photo: GCIS
President Cyril Ramaphosa (file photo).

The charges against a teacher accused of sexual assault at Thandokhulu High School in Mowbray, Cape Town, were withdrawn on Tuesday.

The trial against Ayanda Ntuthu could not start in the Wynberg Sexual Offences Court because prosecutor Xolani Ncobo said he could not locate the witnesses because the investigating officer was on leave. He asked for the case to be postponed. Ntuthu's lawyer objected as this was the sixth postponement. Magistrate Nontuthuzelo Ralarala then withdrew the charges.

Ntuthu is accused of touching a learner on his private parts during a sleepover at the school in May 2017. He has also been accused of hitting another learner with a belt, an allegation supported by the following video that GroundUp published last year.

Video by unknown. GroundUp has blurred the face of the student in the forefront of the video.

An internal investigation by the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) found Ntuthu not guilty.

In August 2017, learners protested outside the school, calling for the teacher to be suspended and for the WCED to explain why he had been found not guilty.

Ntuthu was released from police custody on R1,000 bail on 31 August and was ordered not to contact any witnesses. At his last court appearance on 18 January, the state postponed the matter for a fifth time to collect an outstanding witness statement.

Ntuthu's lawyer, who refused to give her name, said the state had enough time to "get their things in order".

"We were ready for trial today ... It has been five months since my clients last appearance. That gave the state enough time to get their things in order. My client was present at every court hearing," she said.

She told the court Ntuthu "is employed and has a fixed address", should the state reinstate the charges.

It is unclear whether the state will be pursuing the matter.

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