THE Knysna teacher accused of the sexual assault and rape of a 12-year-old pupil was granted R4000 bail in the Knysna Regional Court yesterday. The Fraaisig Primary teacher, 52, who has taught at the school for three decades, was arrested almost two weeks ago after the acting school principal allegedly caught him raping the girl in a photocopying room.
He may not be named until he has pleaded.
While magistrate Clifford Maseti agreed the court had to consider the emotions of the community, he said it could also not look at this factor alone.
"The court must not look at the feelings of the community in isolation ... given the evidence that has been presented there is nothing to suggest he will be a flight risk. There has also been no evidence to suggest he will become involved in a similar crime."
The man, who has two daughters aged 20 and 28, remained silent in the dock during Maseti's hour-long judgment.
He testified last week that he would stay with his mother in Grootbrak River, about 160km from Knysna, for the duration of his trial. Maseti was satisfied with this condition.
He will also not be allowed to enter the Knysna district outside of his court appearances. This was in accordance with the testimony of the investigating officer Landie Carolis, who said the 12-year-old girl feared she might run into him in Knysna.
Maseti reiterated that it was the job of the court to look after the best interests of children, and it could be understood that the alleged victim was afraid of attending the school. He said while he accepted the state's argument that there was a "possibility" the man could interfere with witnesses, that did not make it a "probability".
The man was first charged with sexual assault, but rape was added because the state said he allegedly "penetrated" her with his finger. The teacher claims he did not molest the girl, but was holding on to her to "pull himself up" from the floor where he was picking up papers under a photocopy machine. The case was postponed to October 30.