Namibia: Parents Want Suiderlig Teacher Fired

SUIDERLIG High School teacher Valery Bock continues to teach despite a guilty verdict after a disciplinary hearing against her over misconduct charges of inappropriate sexual behaviour with a pupil from P K de Villiers High School.

The latest development comes after the parents of the Grade 9 pupil, who cannot be named to protect her identity, reported her missing since 20 September after she left the family home and never returned.

"We have again reported her as missing to the police," said the mother.

Bock faces four counts of abduction and two counts of committing an immoral act relating to a case which the victim's parents had opened against her early last year.

The victim's parents have ex-pressed outrage after learning that the teacher, whom they claimed lured their under-age daughter in an illicit lesbian affair, was not fired after being found guilty by a disciplinary hearing.

The parents, in an interview with The Namibian this week, accused the education authorities of dragging their feet in taking decisive action against Bock.

According to them, they learnt that the said disciplinary hearing had been concluded a few months back, and had recommended that Bock be sacked.

"But to our surprise, she continues teaching, despite being found guilty by the disciplinary hearing," a visibly emotional mother of the young pupil said.

The parents said they have enlisted the services of a lawyer to exert pressure on the education authorities to implement the disciplinary hearing's recommendation that Bock be fired.

"Why are they still allowing her to continue teaching?" the mother asked. "We are not only concerned about our child, but fear that other pupils might be the next victims of sexual abuse at the hands of the (implicated) teacher," said the father of the victim.

The parents said education executive director [Sanet] Steen-kamp, according to their lawyer, indicated that the teacher in question could not be dismissed during this critical time when pupils are being prepared for the year-end examinations. Steenkamp on Wednesday did not confirm or deny that the disciplinary hearing had recommended that Bock be fired.

However, she acknowledged that her office, after having scrutinised the teacher's disciplinary hearing outcomes, had forward the matter to the Public Service Commission (PSC).

"I can only issue a directive for disciplinary action against the implicated teacher to the regional director once I receive a recommendation from the PSC that should also be endorsed by the prime minister," she explained.

Steenkamp said she took cognisance of the "anxiety" the victim's parents are going through, and in the same vein stressed that the education authorities have taken a zero tolerance stance against any kind of sexual abuse of a pupil.

The executive director revealed that the victim was placed at a school at Karasburg as part of an interim remedial measure to pro-tect her through separation from the teacher. It was learnt, in the meantime, that the pupil returned to PK de Villiers High School. Steenkamp confirmed that she held a constructive dialogue with the victim's parents' lawyer regarding the teacher's disciplinary process.

"Due disciplinary process must be followed, and only after that can the law be applied without any discrimination," she stressed.

Bock is also facing charges of bail violations for having made contact with the victim in October last year. She remains out on bail of N$4 000.

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