ONGWEDIVA – The Deputy Director of Education Immanuel Aipanda says the education ministry has assigned two teams to probe alleged sexual harassment by a school principal.
The principal of Joseph Mbangula Primary School at Omatando village also faces charges over alleged financial mismanagement at the rural school.
Aipanda confirmed he has seen a letter that William Mbangula from Omatando recently wrote to the permanent secretary of education Alfred Ilukena. The letter was forwarded to the Oshana regional education directorate for further investigations.
In the letter Mbangula claims Festus Tshigwedha Iipinge, the school principal of Joseph Mbangula Primary School at Omatando village, sexually harassed pupils and misused over N$100 000 from the school’s bank account.
The investigating teams consist of social workers and education officers who will look into the sexual harassment allegations, and accountants from the ministry who will investigate the allegations of financial impropriety.
Aipanda however had reservations on why Mbangula kept quiet for so long about the alleged sexual abuse of schoolchildren.
“These are the issues that he has known since 2013, but we were not aware. We wonder why he didn’t report it to us earlier? Why is he only reporting it now?” asked Aipanda.
“These are allegations and they should be treated as such until proven otherwise,” stated Aipanda.
Joseph Mbangula Primary School is named after William Mbangula’s late father and Iipinge is Mbangula’s relative.
Apart from the letter sent to the permanent secretary, Mbangula and a group of about nine staged what they referred to as a “picketing activity” to have Iipinge investigated.
Joseph Mbangula Primary School has 298 learners who are in pre-primary to Grade 5. Mbangula and his group claim the girls who were fondled by Iipinge (51) were all 15-year-olds and were in Grade 5. According to Mbangula, three girls went on record claiming their school principal sexually harassed them in 2013.
This year another girl from the same school was allegedly assaulted by her parent for having a sexual affair with Iipinge.
The accused allegedly tells the girls they are grown up, then opens their blouses, fondles their breasts and unzips their skirts.
Mbangula claims police investigations were also carried out in 2013 on the alleged fondling allegations.
“One of the girls who is now a Grade 8 learner at Ekwafo Secondary School is now pregnant. Of course she is not pregnant with his child, but he was the first person to expose the child to sexual activities,” said Mbangula.
The police have however denied ever investigating a case of sexual harassment at Joseph Mbangula Primary School. Mbangula, a former journalist, further claimed Iipinge has withdrawn over N$100 000 from the school’s bank account and the money has not been accounted for.
“If he is guilty, he is guilty, if he is not guilty, then he is not guilty. But we are not going to stop until we see that the ministry of education has assigned a team of investigators to the school,” said Mbangula.
Iipinge himself declined to comment maintaining the case is being investigated by a higher authority.
William Mbangula, second from left, and others during a demonstration at Joseph Mbangula Primary School.