To catch a coach

2010-03-06 00:00

A GROUP of Durban parents, whose toddlers were allegedly molested by their swimming instructor, were forced to hire a private investigator after police failed to arrest the suspect.

In 2008, six parents opened cases against the accused — who cannot be named until he pleads — a swimming instructor who offered his services to primary schools and pre-schools in the area, after they disco­vered their children were imitating adult sexual beha­viour while they were being bathed.

He was not arrested, despite the complaints.

Frustrated, the parents started a drive to raise funds to hire a private investigator, Mark Hardwick, who gathered enough evidence for police to arrest the accused.

Last week, the instructor was arrested at a local shopping centre. He was charged with two counts of rape in the Durban Magistrate’s Court this week, and was released on R5 000 bail.

Hardwick told Weekend Witness that when the parents approached him, they were angry and frustrated that no one cared that their children had been viola­ted.

He said police took statements from the children, counselling was done, and still no arrest was made.

“I interviewed the children and found that they displayed highly sexualised behaviour. They are so young and it was sad hearing them describe the abuse,” he said.

A mother described the past two years as an emotional rol­ler coaster as she struggled to get justice for her daughter’s abuse.

The woman, whose daughter was only four when she was allegedly abused, said she and other parents who opened ca­ses against the accused used the proper channels, but did not receive any help.

“Our children have spoken out about the abuse. Nothing was done; we had to hire our own investigator to get results. It’s heartbreaking for us,” she said.

She said her daughter still talks about the abuse and is receiving counselling to deal with her emotions.

“She is too scared to even hug people. Sometimes, she just has these bursts of anger. It has been really rough for us. She is now even more aware of everything as the trial draws near,” she said.

She said parents are angry that the court granted the accused bail.

“It’s very frustrating as he is now out there. We can bump into him at local shopping centres. How do these children deal with seeing him after their ordeal?” she said.

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