Toilet spy camera scandal

Gareth Wilson wilsong@avusa.co.za

AN angry Port Elizabeth father has turned to the police and the Education Department after learning that closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras had been installed in the toilet at Dr Viljoen Primary School in Sydenham.

The father, who did not want to be named for fear his child would be victimised, said he believed the cameras were a gross violation of the children’s privacy.

The cameras – which the principal Solly Gouws allegedly told a parent were fake – were placed in both the boys’ and girls’ washrooms earlier this year.

According to the father, Gouws said the cameras had been installed to stop children from damaging school property.

Yesterday the man reported the cameras to the education department, requesting immediate action as it was an infringement of the children’s rights.

Gouws initially denied that there were any cameras in the toilets before claiming that they were “dummy cameras” and “not in the toilet but the section where the students wash their hands”.

He refused to comment further.

He also denied The Herald entry into the school after a request to be shown the cameras.

The education department also remained tight-lipped. Education development officer Walter Ah Shene said: “I have nothing to say until I have submitted a report to the deputy director.”

The lack of interest from the education department saw the parent consulting the police yesterday.

Concerned roleplayers will meet police today to discuss the merits of a criminal investigation.

A parent, who asked to remain anonymous, said that a meeting was held with Gouws last week to address the issue after pleas to have the cameras removed failed.

“I raised my concern regarding the installation of CCTV cameras in the boys’ and girls’ toilets as they have a clear view of the basins, urinal and changing area,” the parent said.

“[Gouws] then said they were dummy cameras and were placed there due to the children throwing toilet paper against the ceiling. He did not prove they were fake but said that since the installation [of the cameras] it had stopped.”

The parent highlighted concerns over the pupils’ privacy, saying they feared they were being watched while in the toilets.

“This perception could lead to abnormalities such as urinary tract infection and constipation through fear of going to the toilet. Other parents are also worried about this, but they are too scared to come forward,” the parent said.

“I do not know whether these cameras are real and now I have my child worrying about being watched in the toilets.

“They claim these are dummy cameras, but they can’t or won’t show proof of this.

“It is amazing. The principal blatantly breaks the law and the education department just accepts it.”

Other parents said yesterday they were unaware of the situation.

“We know nothing about cameras in the toilets. We are only allowed into the school if we have an appointment,” a parent said.

Police spokesman Captain Sandra Janse van Rensburg said a case of crimen injuria could be opened by concerned parents if the school failed to address the issue.

“A criminal case regarding CCTV cameras in bathrooms can be opened. Detectives would have to investigate whether the cameras are real.

“They will also have to establish the purpose of putting the cameras in the bathrooms,” she said.

“Either way, CCTV cameras may not be installed in washrooms as it constitutes an invasion of privacy.”

Education spokesman Loyiso Pulumani failed to respond to numerous messages and queries relating to the cameras.

5 thoughts on “Toilet spy camera scandal

  • January 12, 2017 at 11:16 am
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    As far as I know, exposing any private body parts on a camera is pornography. The principal should be investigated for child pornography and jailed for it. Honestly if the cameras where really fake then why does the principal have a problem allowing people to investigate for themselves. Even if children misbehaved no one has the right to view they private parts on camera whether innocent or guilty.

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  • May 19, 2014 at 11:46 am
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    If the “children” did not use the Toilet areas to do wrong then the school would not have been forced to take this action. I would suggest changing the angle of the camera’s rather than removing them.

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  • May 14, 2014 at 3:07 am
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    Those little children are smoking in that toilet I really can’t come to terms with a governing body or teachers counsel coming to a unanimous decision to all be a bunch of “peeping toms” .. And if it is vandalism then they should make those parents pay double or just kick them out! their choice

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  • May 12, 2014 at 3:02 pm
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    If the cameras are dummy cameras what harm can they do! it is just a deterrent against vandalism! If they don’t actually work no one can see anything bit it persuades the kids to use the toilets decently!

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  • May 12, 2014 at 12:08 pm
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    this is disgusting. you are infringing on the rights of the children.if you have a problem with distuction or vandilismn then find another way to deal with this. regardless of whether the cameras are real or false they must be removed. Dallas

    Reply

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