Johannesburg – The Gauteng department of Education has confirmed that Tebogo Kgobokoe Arts Academy, which is owned by dancer Tebogo Kgobokoe, is operating illegally as it is not registered with them.
As a result, the school has been served with a notice to shut it down and the department wants the owner to be charged criminally for operating an unregistered independent school.
Spokesperson for the department Steve Mabona – said the institution, based in Lanseria – was not registered with the department as required by the South African Schools Act.
The Star reached out to the school and was asked to send an email. However, there was no response.
The dance school was catapulted into notoriety after the investigative show Carte Blanche interviewed former pupils who claimed they were sexually assaulted at the school and also coerced into having sex with their male classmates.
The pupils heaped the blame on Kgobokoe’s sister and brother-in-law. The brother-in-law was also accused of touching some of the pupils inappropriately.
Mabona said they went to the school on October 7 following the allegations made by the children on the show.
"This was in response to a Carte Blanche broadcast on the school with serious allegations of sexual grooming of learners and about the operation of the school.
"The owners/directors were informed that a letter signed by the Head of Department instructing them to cease operation, would be served on them in due course as the South African Schools Act does not allow any person to operate an independent school that is not registered with the Department of Education of the province where the school is located."
Mabona said the director of the school reported that the Academy had moved from North West province to Gauteng in January this year.
There was allegedly no proper application for registration and the previous process of registration in the North West had not been finalised.
She could not comment on the allegations of sexual grooming as the matter was under police investigation and was therefore sub judice.
Mabona said a submission and two accompanying letters had been generated and taken to the office of the Head of Department.
"The submission recommends the immediate closure of Tebogo Kgobokoe Arts Academy, that criminal charges be instituted against, owners/directors for operating an unregistered independent school and that the District Director assist with the placement of learners from Tebogo Kgobokoe Arts Academy, in Public Ordinary Schools.
"A letter signed by the Head of Department instructing the school to cease operation with immediate effect will be served on the director on Friday, October 11."
Speaking on Radio 702 on Friday morning, Lesufi said the school would be shut down.
"There will be no such school. I respect Tebogo for starting the school but allegations are damning. We are on the side of the victims until proven otherwise," he said.
In the Carte Blance interview, some of the girls said Kgobokoe’s brother-in-law told them at camp one day that they would be playing a game.
The game entailed the boys tying up the girls’ hands behind their backs and also blindfolding them.
The girls said the light was switched off and they started feeling people touch them everywhere, private parts included, as well as being kissed.
Another teenager said Kgobokoe’s sister encouraged her to give her virginity to one of the boys at the school.
She said Kgobokoe’s sister told her to "remember to be soft, remember to be valuable, remember to let yourself go and do whatever he says you must do".
According to the girl, the said boy had asked her how she would feel if he took her virginity. She later slept with him, she said.
"Yes it happened. It wasn’t by force. It happened because I listened to what (Kgobokeo’s sister) told me I should do."
In the same interview, a boy says there was a girl who approached him for sex but that he turned her down.
However, it’s not made clear in the interview if the girl the boy is talking about is the same one who claims to have given her virginity away to because Kgobokoe’s sister said she must.
The girls also claimed that they would be spend time at Kgobokoe’s sister and brother-in-law’s place where they would be paired with boys to have sex with.
One of the girls said when she missed her period and started vomiting, she told Kgobokoe’s sister who gave her tablets to terminate the pregnancy.