Small town blown away by teacher-pupil sex trial
By ROWAN PHILIP Sun Times
04 July 1999
THE town of Nigel has been rocked by a trial in
which a popular female teacher has been accused
of performing oral sex on the teenage son of a local
Suzette Steenkamp, 40, a married mother of two,
was arrested at the John Vorster High School in the
small Gauteng agricultural town in February on
charges of contravening the Sexual Offences Act.
The charge sheet alleges that she suggestively
touched the boy and then performed oral sex on
him in October.
The boy turned 18 this week, but was only 17
years old when the alleged incident occurred. The
magistrate ordered that the boy's name and
testimony not be released.
This week Steenkamp, who has worked as an
Afrikaans teacher at the school since 1980,
pleaded not guilty to the charges in the Nigel
But she said assumptions about her guilt by many
townspeople had already turned her family's life
into "a nightmare".
Suspended from her teaching post and released on
R1 000 bail, she said her family had been the target
of obscene phone calls.
"My little 15-year-old son had to hear someone tell
him that his mother was a pervert when he picked
up the phone," said Steenkamp. "These past four
months have been terrible - this ruins a person's
Her husband, Klippies Steenkamp, an insurance
broker, said he had suffered "major financial losses"
due to "all the talk".
"The whole town is divided over this," he said.
The boy, who sings in the school's "Vossie Revue"
choir - which was co-organised by Steenkamp -
was described by prosecutor George Pieterse as
"emotional and depressive".
A friend testified that the incident took place shortly
before a performance by Vossie Revue.
"He [the boy] said that he had been with Mrs
Steenkamp and that they had been drinking. He
said she had invited him to her room," the friend
He said the boy's demeanour had changed
dramatically afterwards, going from fun-loving to
"as if everything disappeared".
Both sides agreed that there had been a "trust
relationship" between teacher and pupil, and that he
had visited her house three times.
Steenkamp testified that he had been drunk and she
had given him coffee and a sandwich, and had
forced him to swim in her pool, but denied having
oral sex with him. "There wasn't time," she said. "I
rushed to get him in the right condition [for the
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