Turkish missionaries 'molest' boys

2010-10-21 08:11

Polokwane - Three Turkish missionaries, who teach Islamic lessons at an aftercare centre in Polokwane, have been arrested for allegedly assaulting and molesting under-age boys.

The three young men appeared in the Polokwane Magistrate's Court on Wednesday on charges of assault, assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm and contravention of the Sexual Offences Act.

The men, aged 24, 22 and 19, were arrested on Monday after a police investigation.

According to the law, they may not be identified because they have yet to plead on the sexual charges against them.

12 complainants

Twelve of the boys who attend the centre are complainants in the case.

The boys, aged between 11 and 14, all come from previously disadvantaged communities in Limpopo, and they all come from poor families.

They are alleging that they were beaten and that the men apparently also set dogs loose on them. The boys also allege the men kissed and molested them.

Andries Rheeder, the men's legal representative, said during their bail application that all the pupils have since been removed from the aftercare centre.

They are currently in a place of safety. The boys were also taken to a hospital for medical examinations earlier this week.

The men have been involved in the aftercare centre for the past two years. They also live there, and apparently transport the children to and from the primary school every day.

Can't speak English

After school, they teach the children about the Islamic faith.

The men can't speak or understand English at all. Court proceedings had to be translated into Turkish for them.

State prosecutor Alice Lekganyane did not oppose bail. The men have to hand in their passports.

Magistrate Janine Ungerer postponed the case to December 2 for further investigation.