More girls accuse suspended ‘sex pest’ teachers

2009-06-03 00:00

MORE cases of sexual misconduct involving teachers from Makhumbuza High School in Umlazi have emerged during counselling sessions with female pupils at the school.

This comes after five teachers were suspended by the Department of Education after a group of girls accused them of sexual harassment in exchange for money and clothes.

The group said the teachers would pay the girls R100 after having sex with them in the science laboratory.

It is believed that most of the sex sessions happened during extra lessons that were given before school opened for normal learning.

Fourteen girls have since come forward about their encounters with the suspended teachers du­ring special counselling sessions that have been arranged to help pupils deal with the harassment.

Jackie Branfield, director of the Bobbi Bear Foundation, which provides counselling for abused children, said more and more girls are speaking up about the “sexual favours” they performed for teachers at the school.

Using special teddy bears, the girls describe what happened during their encounters with the tea­chers.

Branfield said that during one of the sessions, which included a discussion on HIV, a 14-year-old girl stood up and told the class that she was raped by one of the teachers and has since tested HIV-positive.

“I nearly wept when I heard this. How can little girls suffer like this? She was extremely brave to tell us what happened,” she said.

The pupil is now in counselling and the case has been referred to the police.

She said that the girls were extremely traumatised by the abuse and will need lots of counselling to overcome it.

“There is a huge problem at this school. These incidents are just the tip of the iceberg. More and more girls will come forward during our sessions with them,” she said.

Branfield said that victimisation by their fellow pupils was also a major issue facing the victims.

Last week, one of the girls was chased around the school and beaten by pupils for reporting the teachers to the education autho­rities.

Branfield said that the angry group of pupils screamed “You’re HIV-positive” as they ran after the girl.

“What has our society come to when you are treated like a criminal when you speak up for your rights? These girls have been through enough and yet now they suffer at the hands of their cruel classmates,” she said.

Umlazi police spokesman Superintendent Buhle Ngidi said the police were taking statements from the girls so that the cases could be registered.

A special campaign was held at the school yesterday, where children’s rights groups, education specialists and officials from the Safety and Community Liaison department addressed pupils on sexual abuse and their rights.

Jabu Myeza, an education specialist, told pupils that selling sex for money or clothes amounts to prostitution.

“Your body is yours and nobody has the right to abuse it. Don’t allow your teachers to touch you. Your private parts should be private,” she told pupils.

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