Swimming coach in suicide bid

2008-10-03 00:00

The Durban swimming coach who allegedly sexually assaulted toddlers during swimming lessons is in a serious condition in hospital after he attempted to commit suicide.

Earlier this week, angry parents laid charges of sexual assault against the man, who runs a well-established swimming school for children in Umbilo.

Parents noticed their toddlers imitating adult sexual behaviour while they were being bathed.

On closer investigation, they discovered that the coach allegedly touched the children inappropriately during their lessons.

Six cases of sexual assault were opened at the Umbilo police station. However, no arrests have been made yet.

On Thursday, the coach, who is in his early fifties, tried to commit suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping pills after he read reports of the sexual abuse allegations in local newspapers.

He was rushed to a local hospital, where he is in a serious but stable condition. Family members refused to speak to the media about the man’s condition or the allegations.

Parents of the toddlers involved have called for the swimming school to be closed.

One parent said the swimming school has more than 160 children who attend daily for 30-minute lessons.

Pupils from local primary schools also attend swimming lessons at the school.

The parent said that when she registered her four-year-old daughter for lessons, she was told that the man and his wife taught the children. However, the woman rarely attended lessons.

“About three weeks ago, I noticed my little girl touching her genitals. She had never done that before, she told me that she learnt this from her coach,” she said.

The mother said parents were called to a meeting to discuss their children’s “weird” behaviour.

“All parents must know what’s happening to their children,” she said.

She said the children were taken for counselling at Bobbi Bear, an organisation that assists sexually abused children, and for medical treatment as two girls had contracted infections believed to be from the sexual abuse.

She said her daughter is outspoken and described how the coach touched her and other kids in her class.

“She told me that he was a very naughty man …

“It’s [an] absolute nightmare for parents. We have all opened cases and are praying that the culprit will be arrested,” she said.

Police spokesman Inspector Thulani Zwane said that six cases of sexual assault are being investigated. “The man has not been charged yet. Police are still investigating the allegations,” he said.

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