Father's anguish: ‘I couldn't protect my family'

2016-08-15 09:50
Two more children have allegedly been raped by a school counsellor in Pietermaritzburg

Two more children have allegedly been raped by a school counsellor in Pietermaritzburg (Ian Carbutt)

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Pietermaritzburg - “I am the protector of my family but I could not protect my boys.”

This was the heartbreak expressed by a father who says medical evidence shows his two boys were raped, allegedly by their primary school counsellor.

“Every night when I close my eyes I see my child on the examination table, frightened and screaming up against a corner of the wall as the doctor tries to examine him. I can’t sleep. I am so angry. I feel like I have let my family down … How could this happen? My kids are everything to me.”

The devastated father of the boys has vowed to sue the principal, the school and the Education Department.

He learned only last week that his sons, who had both seen the school counsellor, had allegedly been raped at school.

He believes the principal must now account to him and the school for his role in both allegedly suppressing the matter and his alleged inaction in dealing with the counsellor when concerns were first raised about alleged sexual abuse at the school.

The father said the behaviour of both his happy, well-adjusted sons began to deteriorate when they started attending the school. They also went from being model pupils academically to failing subjects outright. The younger one began having nightmares.

“It didn’t make sense. Their behaviour changed and they even began to be rebellious. The older one started bullying the younger one.”

Eventually, on Wednesday last week, the younger son broke down and told his mother what had allegedly happened. The elder son then also told his parents he too had allegedly been raped.

“I just broke down when my wife told me,” said the father, struggling to keep his composure.

He said, blinded by anger and sadness, he drove home very recklessly that day. “I just didn’t care what happened to me.”

He said he was almost suicidal at the time.

And so the process of dealing with what had allegedly been done to his children began.

Two cases of rape

He said he went to the school to speak to his younger son’s teacher there. He said the teacher told him that during a lesson focusing on good and bad touching, his younger son had asked, “What happens if a teacher touches you?” The father said the teacher asked him why he was asking that question, but the little boy clammed up immediately.

The father also claimed that it has now emerged that his son had opened up to a male teacher about the abuse previously, but the teacher had told him, “No, you’re lying!”

“I went and opened two cases of rape on Thursday last week. On Monday I took my kids to Edendale hospital to be examined. It was found that there was definitely some damage from penetration to both boys.”

He said it has emerged now that the counsellor allegedly told his boys he knew where they lived, and he would “hurt” his mother and father if they told anyone about the alleged rapes.

“Every night, at bedtime, my younger son screams for me. He wants me there with him.”

The father said his younger son was being bullied at school and was being picked on by some of the other teachers.

He believes that the teachers who sided with the counsellor and attended the court case, were picking on boys who had been counselled, resentful that trouble was being caused for the counsellor.

The father said he believed there was a group of older boys who had also allegedly been abused by the counsellor and who were “working like little sergeants” bullying all the boys who were being counselled. “They keep the little ones in check. They love [the counsellor]. They will do anything for him. They’ve been through it and they are bullying the little boys to keep them needing counselling,” he alleged.

A shocking allegation that the father vocalised was that he believes the counsellor may have been drugging the children with a date rape drug. He believes that would explain why the boys were quiet during the attacks and why they perhaps don’t remember all the details of each attack. He said his sons had reported being given “sweets” by the counsellor.

Again the allegation that the counsellor only wanted to see white boys was raised.

“They said my sons had to see the counsellor because they were ‘over-happy’. How ridiculous is that?” He believes this was merely a ruse that the counsellor used to be able to get access to his children.

The father claimed police had examined the couch and bean bags in the counsellor’s office. He said it appeared that the boys had begun their consultations with the counsellor in the main counselling room, and after a period had been taken into a back room with him.

The father said while his younger son had now started verbalising what allegedly happened, his elder son did not want to speak about the matter at all.

The father said he intends suing the principal, the school and the Department of Education.

Anger at principal

He is furious with the principal.

“That is his house. He is the father of the house. The police told him what was happening and he still took children to see the counsellor,” the man alleged.

“When I went to see him after this all came out, all the principal did was sit there and cry, holding a little tissue, saying, ‘I don’t know what to say.’

“He said they will give us R1 000 towards moving our children to another school. What is R1 000? It is an admission of guilt and nothing more. I want him to know I am going after him, the school and the Education Department. I believe the principal should be there in the cell with the counsellor. Why did he stick up for him and try and hide things? Everyone is too quiet — the community, the other parents. We need to make a big noise. We need to protest at the school.”

He said other people did not know what the counsellor has allegedly done or what the alleged victims have been through, and how much pain the families have had to endure.

“They need to clean out the school properly now. They also need to help us find a school where my boys will be safe. So now, who do we trust?”

He added that he feared that the counsellor had perhaps videoed the attacks and that these could be being circulated on the Internet.

He also fears that the counsellor may not have acted alone.

He said the counsellor had once invited his children on a cycling weekend, to sleep over at his house. “Thank goodness something came up and the boys couldn’t go.”

The father said after the examinations at Edendale Hospital, the children were meant to see a psychologist. “But now they say the first appointment is only in September.”

The father said he will be at court when the counsellor appears again.

“I want him to see me. I want him to see my face.”

'Best way forward'

A local woman and parent at the school, who is delegated to represent all parents during the investigation, said on Thursday that the principal and the Student Governing Body (SGB) in her view have honoured their commitment in assisting to find “the best way forward for everyone”.

The woman said one of the main issues frustrating affected parents is the costs incurred by relocating their children to new schools and seeking both medical and psychological assistance for them. It is believed the school has offered the affected parents funds to assist in these matters.

“The nature of this incident is extremely distressing, especially for the parents of affected pupils. I have had instances when parents have contacted me, seeking assistance on the grounds that the school had made no contact with them or failed to offer any help, only to find that sometimes parents see the offer made by the school as being insufficient,” the woman said.

“Parents continue to make recommendations on the way forward — they are satisfied with the school’s response and efforts to move forward.”

The woman said many parents are doing their best to assist in creating a positive environment for the pupils and staff who have taken “severe strain” in recent weeks.

She said she was not aware of fresh rape charges being laid against the accused counsellor.

A parent whose child was allegedly raped by the counsellor said the school initially offered to fit the bill for his child, and others affected, to see a social worker rather than a psychologist for counselling.

“We opted for our child to see a private psychologist because we have no trust in anybody affiliated with the school. How do we know the social worker appointed by the school will not report what our child is saying to the school,” the parent said.

“I got an e-mail from the Department of Education yesterday saying that they will not be covering any costs for counselling. This despite the MEC saying he will do everything to assist in this matter. The school management said they would meet to discuss if and how much they would pay towards the counselling from a private psychologist.”

The parent said it is not only the pupils’ lives that have been affected. “I have not been able to deal with this and my family have completely fallen apart. This has destroyed complete families … We cannot do anything but wait until [he] is sentenced.”


A snap survey of parents fetching their children from school on Thursday, revealed that most of them are behind the principal. These are a selection of some of their comments.

• “It happened,” said one. “We are not happy about it, but we must move on.”

• One clearly angry mother felt the principal should have resigned long ago. “I have been applying everywhere for my children to get into another school. It’s bulls*t what happened here. I am taking them out.”

• “He has been a good principal for so many years. We can’t judge him on the actions of another man. The school is dealing with the situation as best as it can.”

• “The principal has done his best under the circumstances. I am not moving my kids and I definitely don’t want the school to close. It is well resourced and the quality of education here is good. It is one rotten egg. We can’t blame the principal.”

• One man said he was unaware of what had allegedly transpired at the school and appeared shocked when told of the allegations.

The Education Department were not forthcoming in their response to the questions we posed to them on Thursday.

Spokesperson Sihle Mlotshwa said the department’s district office was delayed in tending to questions but he promised he would respond at length on Friday.

Police spokesperson Sergeant Mthoko Ngobese said on Thursday that to date 10 cases have been opened.

He said in some instances one case, opened by the parents of the children, involved more than one child. He would not be drawn into revealing the total number of children involved.

“We are gathering as much information as we can from the scene. We are still interviewing more people that could lead to more cases being opened.”

He said the Pietermaritzburg FCS unit would welcome any others who may have been affected to come forward. “We want to bring closure and justice in this matter.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  child abuse

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