A Western Cape high school teacher failed in his attempt to hold on to his job after the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) declared him unfit to work with children, following allegations that he impregnated a Grade 9 pupil.
Sivatho Rigala was a teacher at Masakheke High School in Nkqubela, Robertson.
According to Learner A, Rigala began communicating with her privately on a Facebook group that had been created for school-work purposes.
This happened in January 2022 when she was 15-years-old.
She described how Rigala asked her inappropriate questions and also asked for her number where he continued making conversations of a sexual nature.
He persistently asked her to send her nudes and she sent him pictures she downloaded from the internet.
According to her, the pictures made Rigala happy and he wanted more.
After some time, he asked her to meet him at his house and she agreed. This is when he allegedly raped her.
The following month, in February 2022, she missed her period and informed Rigala. He tried to calm her down and told her she would soon begin her period.
When she failed to get her period by the end of February, she informed him, and he told her to take a pregnancy test which came back positive.
She informed Rigala about the results and he told her to get an abortion. She searched online and obtained details of a doctor who provided her with pills which Rigala paid for.
However, she did not drink the pills, instead, she told him they didn’t work.
This is when Rigala came up with an idea that she should sleep with someone and ‘frame’ the person for impregnating her.
She said she felt the new plan was better, as opposed to getting an abortion.
Through Rigala’s advice, she slept with a boy from her church choir and Rigala told her to keep this as a secret until she’s done with matric and he will reimburse the boy for taking the blame when the truth comes out.
However, she miscarried the baby when she was seven months pregnant.
Her father learned that the father of the child was Rigala after she had miscarried.
He reported the matter to the police and Rigala was arrested and charged was assault and rape. The matter is still in court.
In his defence, Rigala denied having a relationship with Learner A. He said he first started communicating with her in August 2022 because he noticed that she had been absent from school for a long time.
He said he only offered her support regarding the miscarriage and they would have random conversations relating to her healing progress.
He said the learner had a crush on him and he had rejected her.
When asked why he did not report the learner’s behaviour to the principal, he said that in hindsight he should have done so but he was too shocked at the time.
Regarding the screenshots on WhatsApp conversations, he denied that the content relates to him. He said that the Facebook profile purporting to be his, was not his and was a pseudo account.
He said that he suspected that the learner was the sender and the receiver of those messages and she did this to bring him down, probably sent by his colleagues and school management staff.
Upon hearing the case, arbitrator Arthi Singh-Bhoopchand said Rigala’s evidence was largely based on conspiracy theory and had no evidence.
“It is questionable why he did not refer the learner for counselling when he learnt of her miscarriage, or at the very least report her condition to the school principal so that counselling could be arranged through the school channels,” said Singh-Bhoopchand.
“His inaction in this regard speaks volumes and is yet another reason to conclude that his version is improbable, and that the version of the learner is the more probable one.”
Rigala was dismissed with immediate effect.