Horrific allegations of child abuse uncovered at boarding house

2014-11-11 00:00

AMID the mushrooming of illegal boarding houses in the city centre, horrific allegations of child abuse have been uncovered at one.

A four-year-old girl was allegedly raped and an eight year old sexually assaulted by the young relative of the owners of a boarding house in central Pietermaritzburg.

The four-year-old victim had been staying with the owners, whose names are known to The Witness, since January this year, while the eight-year-old had been at the facility since September 2012.

Sources staying at the boarding house said the 17-year-old teen had instructed the four-year-old girl to go to the toilet before raping her on many occasions. They said the girl said he also sodomised her. Sources said they confronted the boy, who admitted to having raped the girl because he was drunk.

The boarding house co-owner and child minder said the eight-year-old girl told the doctor that her relative had also sexually assaulted her. The children were placed in the boarding house because their families thought it was a safe place, as they had no one to look after them while their parents worked or were away.

Sources alleged the facility’s owners were aware of the matter but turned a blind eye to it. One source said he told the co-owner that “if I disclosed what is happening here, some people would be arrested”.

He said she then started to “panic” and called a security company, before the police arrested the boy last Sunday. Quizzed on why she didn’t initially report the matter, the co-owner said when she approached the police initially, they told her that “he was under age” and cannot be arrested. “He raped one and [sexually assaulted] the other one. I wanted to talk to him, but he kept on running away. He is a heavy drinker,” she said.

After the ordeal, the families removed their children from the facility. The father of the four-year-old said the co-owner should also be brought to book. “She agreed to the responsibility to look after my child but she failed.

“My daughter told me that the accused normally watched her when she was bathing,” he said. “She is getting better and is playing with other children, but you can see that she is still traumatised.”

He said he had received a call from a domestic worker at the centre, who alerted him that his child was being sexually abused. He said when the domestic worker told the co-owner that she suspected something, she said she became angry and defensive. “It is clear that she was hiding this mess. She must also be arrested.”

The eight-year-old victim’s father said his daughter is “very upset”. “She is always sleeping at home as she is still traumatised but she is slowly recovering,” he said.

Another source said the boy was troublesome. “He is violent. I thought he was mentally ill the way he does things. Things get ugly after taking drugs. He steals and causes mayhem in the centre,” she said.

Police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker said charges of rape and sexual assault are being investigated by the Pietermaritzburg Family Violence, Child and Sexual Abuse Unit.

He said the 17-year-old suspect appeared in the Magistrate’s Court on November 5, but the court results are unknown.

• khanyisani.dlomo@witness.co.za


PIETERMARITZBURG Childline director Julie Todd said it was unacceptable that the police had not responded to the allegations as soon as the woman reported her relative.

“It seems police are not educated enough on child protection legislature and protocol,” said Todd. She said the incident should have been reported to the child protection unit, where the victims and their families would have had access to trauma counselling and assistance.

Bobbi Bear founder, Jackie Branfield, was outraged at the police’s failure to report the case.

“This is disgusting. We cannot stand for this, something has to be done,” said an audibly upset Branfield.

“Bobbi Bear calls for a full investigation into the police who turned that [woman] away.

Crimes on women and children is a national priority and there is a pandemic of children raping children. The cops who turned the [woman] away, how do they feel when they look at their own little daughters?” asked Branfield.

Councillor for the area, Judith Lawrence said she had no knowledge of the incident. “Nobody has told me anything about it,” said Lawrence.

Pietermaritzburg Children’s Home director Fiona Balgobind said that a case should have been opened regardless of the perpetrator’s age.

“The police have an obligation to report a case.

“A case should always be reported, no matter the victim’s or perpetrator’s age.”

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