Another school to be probed for alleged sexual assault - MEC

2017-10-15 12:54
Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi (Christopher Moagi, Daily Sun)

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi (Christopher Moagi, Daily Sun)

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Johannesburg – A Mamelodi school is set to be investigated for the alleged rape of a student, Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi announced on Sunday.

"Lesufi will on Monday visit…[a] secondary school to receive a report on another alleged rape incident of a 17-year-old girl learner by [a] scholar patroller," his spokesperson Steve Mabona confirmed.

The incident is alleged to have taken place on September 30 and a case was apparently opened earlier this month.

ALSO READ: More allegations of sexual assault against Soweto school guard

Lesufi brought up the incident while addressing a meeting between parents and officials at a primary school in Soweto. The school has been hit by revelations of wide-scale sexual abuse of students by a scholar patrolman.

The current confirmed number of students who are victims of the abused stands at 87 – but on Sunday Lesufi made it clear that "proper validation" still needed to be finalised.

At the meeting, Lesufi apologised to parents angry about apparent delays in the reporting of the matter by the school principal for a "communication breakdown".

'We have failed your children'

"The entire sector, the department of education, including myself: we have failed your children. All of us have to take blame," he told the parents and guardians for whom emotion ran high at the meeting.

"We are not talking about one, two, twenty, thirty [abused students]. For God’s sake, we are talking about 87; This is a disaster and… we need to act decisively," Lesufi told them.

"Something is wrong somewhere," he declared, saying the investigation would protect no "holy cow[s]".

ALSO READ: Soweto school guard accused of sexual assault 'seemed like an angel'

Lesufi also offered various measures to parents which could help "protect, support and defend" the affected children.

Firstly, he said that if parents wanted to move their children to a different school, the department would accept that.

"No child will be stopped or discriminated against."

The department also would ensure that if students were too traumatised to write exams, other arrangements would be made to complete an assessment of their progress.

Staff replacing those who had been suspended would begin work on Monday. 

Principal removed, hero grandmother

Previously, the department chose to remove the school's principal and entire senior management team – who will now be at the centre of an independent investigation.

Looking into the future, new security cameras would be installed and various safety measures implemented at the school.

Lesufi also promised counselling would continue for as long as each child needed it.

The meeting was also addressed by officials from the Teddy Bear Clinic, who discussed with parents which signs of emotional and physical trauma to look out for. 

Earlier, members of the school governing body vented their frustration that the principal allegedly withheld key information from them at first.

On Sunday, Lesufi paid tribute to a grandmother who was amongst the first to raise the alarm over the abuse – and who also spoke at the meeting.

"That person is our hero," he declared to applause.

This week, news of the abuse broke to public shock. A security guard from the school, in his 50s, was arrested on Monday. 

He appeared briefly in the Protea North Magistrate's Court earlier this week, and was remanded in custody until October 18, when he is expected to apply for bail. 

Read more on:    panyaza lesufi  |  johannesburg  |  child abuse  |  education  |  sexual abuse

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