Joburg school’s physio cleared of sexual misconduct after pupil made false claims
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Johannesburg – A school physiotherapist has been cleared of sexual misconduct after a learner that she was accused of sleeping with confessed that he made false claims.
Kerri-Ann Ramessar, a physiotherapist at Hope School in Randburg, Joburg, should return to her job by October 25, a ruling from the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) ordered.
The Gauteng Department of Education placed Ramessar on precautionary transfer in 2019, after slapping her with sexual misconduct charges.
Two charges were brought up against her. The first one alleged she had a sexual relationship with K, as the 17-year-old boy learner was named in the ELRC hearing.
The second charge was that Ramessar conducted herself in an “improper, disgraceful or unacceptable manner” by inviting K to her house and kissed, hugged and touched his hands, legs and hair.
Ramessar’s troubles began after the boy told a teacher that he was having a sexual relationship with her.
Another teacher overhead K telling fellow learners that he was dating a staff member.
The life orientation teacher asked K about what she overhead. She testified at the ELRC that he named Ramessar after some questioning.
K submitted a statement at the ELRC hearing, in which he maintained that Ramessar had sex with him.
According to the ELRC ruling penned by commissioner E Maree, K started making a turnaround during cross-examination by a Ramessar representative.
He confessed that it was all lie that he had a sexual relationship with Ramessar, and that he told this lie to teachers and fellow learners.
“The issue of the sexual relationship is all false, what I said to Mrs du Toit (teacher he first told) was not true. The issue that we had a sexual relationship was not true,” he told the hearing, according to the ruling.
“It is true that Ma’am Kerry did things for me, but it is not true that we had a sexual relationship. We were close’’.
Asked why he made these statements, he revealed that it all started with his friends asking him what was going on between himself and Ramessar.
The friends would also ask if they were sleeping together. “As I was spiteful, I told them yes,” he testified.
“I did not expect that this would happen, where we now are [the hearing], all is due to spite. I apologise sincerely, profusely’’.
For her part, Ramessar denied the allegations. She further testified that she was “shocked that the word of a teenager was taken so seriously”.
Maree accepted K’s confession and cleared Ramessar.
“He ... did not come across as being scared or intimidated but was confident and self-assured throughout,” said Maree.
“I thus accept that his evidence at the arbitration was the truth and that there was no sexual relationship of any kind, nor any kissing, hugging and touching of hands, legs and hair.
“The employee is found not guilty of both charges levelled against her and must resume duties at Hope School and report there on the 25th of October 2021.”