School ritual tribunal stopped

2014-07-02 00:00

A DISCIPLINARY tribunal to determine the fate of three Voortrekker High School prefects — believed to have confessed to orchestrating a sadistic initiation ritual at the school — has been called off, the victim’s mother says.

It is understood that because so many victims and witnesses to the ritual had come forward, the hearing would not have been concluded before the school year ended.

To avoid a protracted hearing, the three have allegedly escaped with a mere slap on the wrist — only barred from school rugby and their matric dance.

The Witness does not know the details of the confessions, which came to light during the first sitting of an internal disciplinary tribunal into the initiation rituals three weeks ago.

A former pupil, who was removed from the school when his parents found evidence of third-degree burns from a steam iron on his body, lifted the lid on the initiation practice.

The trauma of the teen’s ordeal peaked when he was branded, but was characterised by a three-month spate of physical and emotional abuse, the victim and his mother charge.

The bizarre initiation ritual came to light when the boy’s mother noticed a severe burn wound on his buttocks, understood to have been inflicted by prefects using the iron.

In an interview with The Witness yesterday, the mother of the boy, who along with her son cannot be named because of the sexual nature of some of the allegations against the prefects, confirmed that the tribunal had been cancelled.

The school’s internal probe was conducted concurrently with investigations by the Department of Education and the police.

“It is not happening any more. I found out last week. The lawyer for the governing body said that because so many children had come forward, the hearing of each testimony would not be finished before the school year ended and the three would still not have been punished,” she said.

“They are no longer prefects and they are not allowed to [participate] in any school sports or social activity, as well as being removed from the boarding school,” she added.

The mother said the criminal charges of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm would stand.

“To an extent I agree that if the hearing is prolonged it would have taken forever and the boys would have been operating without any consequence.

“I don’t think that it is punishment enough and that is why I will continue to pursue the criminal charges and my civil claim.”

She added that the accused former prefects had been victims of circumstance, with the initiation ritual fostered by school fathers.

“I am after the teachers and the administrator of the hostel. The boys got carried away but the environment was created for them to do this by the school. This happened in a boarding establishment where teachers were on the same floor. There is no way they could not have known about this.

“The fact is that this has happened before and was reported was either ignored or covered up. This is the first time that they have been forced to do something about it because I refuse to go away.

“My son is now doing so well and he loves being here and at his new school, but the scar is horrible and that will never go away.”

She said that within six months her civil claim for damages against the school and the Education Department would be filed.

Department of Education spokesperson Musi Mahlambi would not be drawn to comment on the status of their probe.

“I can say that the investigation is not yet complete and that is all,” he said.

Efforts to contact governing body vice-chairperson Marius du Plessis and Voortrekker principal Jan Nel proved unsuccessful at the time of going to press.

If you have any information on bullying, please contact Jeff Wicks on 082 073 8565.

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