Pupil's 2-hour rape ordeal

2015-02-08 15:31

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Johannesburg - His ordeal lasted for two hours. The 18-year-old was in his dormitory room last Sunday night at the Northern Cape Agricultural School in Jan Kempdorp when four boys walked in after lights out - two of them 19, one 18 and one just 14, City Press reports.

He considered them his friends.

The four tied him up, binding his hands and feet with rope to the standard-issue steel-framed bed.

He could not fight back as his tormentors beat him. They called other boarders to come and see what they were doing - to watch while they forced bread smeared with toothpaste down his throat.

They painted him with a white substance: soap or shaving cream. Up to 20 other boys watching, both white and black, laughed while he cried out for help.

Then one of the 19-year-olds raped him with the handle of a broomstick.

Every agonising moment was captured on cellphone cameras, recorded by the other pupils who’d crowded into the teenager’s small room. One of them produced a four-minute video that’s gone viral.

Outside the four-bed room, corridor cameras caught the boys coming and going between 21:00 and 23:00. It was after the boys’ 21:00 bedtime, when the lights are switched off and the doors locked.

The hostel supervisor was supposed to make intermittent checks, but camera footage shows he was nowhere to be seen.

The boy’s nightmare has horrified South Africans since City Press broke the story on its website on Thursday night, prompting shock and outrage at what the Northern Cape education department has called a “race attack”.

It’s not clear how the boy was freed after his two hours of terror, but on Monday morning he went to the school’s matron to say he wasn’t feeling well.

In an interview with City Press on Saturday, the school’s principal, Moatlhodi Sekobe, said the matron booked a doctor’s appointment for the boy at midday and he returned with a note that revealed he’d been “assaulted”. He was sent home.

On Tuesday afternoon, the boy and his grandmother returned to school to report what had happened.

In a meeting with Sekobe on Thursday, the boy told him: “Meneer, I don’t know why they did this to me. I thought we were friends.” He asked to return to school.

The young man’s mother, a police officer, opened a case of rape and assault against the four boys, who are well known for causing trouble at the school. The boy who allegedly raped him received five warnings from the school last year. He ran away from the hostel several times, allegedly beat another child so severely he needed medical treatment, and bullied both the children and teachers.

Court appearance

On Friday, after the four wept during their appearance in the Hartswater Magistrates’ Court, which released them on R1 000 bail each, their victim’s shattered mother sobbed during a phone call with City Press.

“I don’t know why this has happened and I’m even more hurt that my son’s picture has been splashed all over the papers. The ordeal was enough for him. He wanted to come out and tell his story to warn other children, but now this whole thing has been turned around. I don’t know what to do and I need to be strong for him.”

She said she had encouraged her son to not “hold any hatred in his heart”. But when she saw published stills from the video footage of the attack in a local newspaper, “my anger came back”.

“I didn’t want to make this a racial issue, because this is wrong whether this is a black or a white child,” she said. However, reports on Friday suggested her child had been “racially insulted” during the attack.

By Saturday, Sekobe was no closer to understanding what had happened at his school. “I’m not sure what would have triggered this, as the victim was friends with the perpetrators when he arrived at the school... They were always together,” he said.

“But... the boy is coloured, the mother is white and she visited the school last week. We suspect the perpetrators found out she was white. That could have been a trigger.”

He denied it was a case of initiation.

“This is quite a complex matter. But either way it is wrong, and we all condemn it. All the teachers are embarrassed because it’s like their dirty linen has been exposed. Even the parents condemn it. We suspect that more might come out during the trial.”

Northern Cape education spokesperson Sydney Stander said this wasn’t the first racist incident at the school.

“In 2010 there were numerous racial incidences reported by parents and pupils. One of the major incidences was when [black] pupils were made to eat manure in full view of teachers,” said Stander.

The department has disbanded the school governing body and removed the principal. Sekobe said letters of suspension were sent to all four of the accused boys on Saturday.

They are due back in court on 5 March.

Read more on:    crime  |  sexual abuse

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