- Editor's note: This article has been updated with additional information in which the school disputes the department's claim that it did not notify authorities.
JOHANNESBURG - The Gauteng Education Department will probe allegations of sexual abuse at Parktown Boys High School in Johannesburg.
A Sunday Times report revealed that the school's water polo coach is accused of sexually assaulting pupils.
More than 20 boys aged between 15 and 16 have come forward with claims.
The department says it wasn't aware of the matter as it hadn't formally been reported. It claims it only became aware of the issue after it landed in the public domain. The department subsequently accused the school of sweeping the allegations under the carpet.
“The Department takes allegations of sex abuse in a very serious light and will launch our own investigation into the allegations,” it said in a statement.
It added that it sought to determine why the school failed to report the incident.
However, the school's PR company, Vuma Reputation Management, has issued a statement on behalf of the chair of the school's Governing Body, disputing the department's claims.
It stated that on the night that an incident of inappropriate physical contact was uncovered, the Chairman of the school Governing Body, as well as the police, were immediately informed.
Vuma states that the following morning, the Gauteng Department of Education was also informed.
This occurred in early November last year.
It further stated that information on the matter was disseminated among parents at the school, via an official school newsletter.
The school states it wants its pupils to feel reassured that they can speak up in the event they feel threatened by any type of behaviour inflicted by others in the school.