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Cape Town - A Grade R girl, 5, is alleged to have been raped by three Grade 2 boys on the grounds of a Mitchells Plain school.
It happened on March 4, but the school failed to notify the girl’s parents. Only during a conversation with her teacher on March 13 did the parents learn their child had allegedly been raped.
The girl’s father, who is not being identified in order to protect his daughter’s identity, said the school had “failed in its duties”.
He said the police opened a case and took the family to a social worker and to GF Jooste Hospital the next day.
“After that session (with a doctor) she and my wife came out crying. My daughter was crying because of an injection she had received. My wife was crying because the results were positive in terms of penetration.”
The family await the results of HIV and other tests.
The girl’s father says she is severely traumatised and afraid to return to class.
The alleged incident happened while the girl was waiting for her transport home after school. Her father said she usually waited in an office but later found out that on that day she had been “chased out” by a staff member. He said he later learnt his daughter had been approached by the three boys who ordered her to hold on to a tree.
“They ordered her to take off her underwear. She didn’t want to. They forced her to do it and did what they wanted to do.”
He said the boys told her they were going to kill her if she reported them, but she told a teacher the next day. The girl didn’t tell her parents.
The father said that on March 6 he received a phone call from the school and was told that there were problems with his daughter’s transport. They wanted to know if he could come to the school the next day.
He said the next morning he received another call from the school who asked if he was still coming “because the parents were there” so he assumed it was a general parents’ meeting and that it would be finished by the time he arrived there.
He later found out the “parents” were the alleged perpetrators’ parents.
“Nobody told me that my daughter had been raped. I would have left everything I was doing and gone to the school.”
The father said that on Thursday he went to the school with this wife because they needed to get a tracksuit for his daughter. When they saw her class teacher outside he asked about his daughter’s progress in class.
“The teacher said she was okay. Then she said: ‘I thought you had come here because of the rape’. We asked her what she meant.”
The parents demanded to see the principal immediately. They said he told them he was under the impression they had been informed.
“I told him I couldn’t understand why they had contacted the boys’ parents but didn’t tell us. I also found out they had questioned my daughter without permission.”
The parents took their daughter to a doctor who referred them to GF Jooste Hospital. A friend advised them to go the police station instead.
“I’m really disturbed by the way the school has handled this case. My daughter is too afraid to go to school. We’ve noticed that her hands are shaking. We want to transfer her to another school,” the father said.
Bronagh Casey, spokeswoman for Education MEC Donald Grant, said a Grade 1 pupil had reported to her teacher that a Grade R pupil was sexually assaulted at the school.
“The Western Cape Education Department is investigating as to why the alleged victim was not accounted for in the area during this time.”
Casey said schools had to report incidents of this nature to the department and the police.
The department was informed of the incident on Friday.
“The school contacted the parent on Thursday March 7, several calls were made. The school indicated that there was something serious that they needed to discuss with him.”
She said two of the three alleged perpetrators’ parents had been to the school and the police indicated that they would be questioned.
Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said the Mitchells Plain Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit were investigating an alleged rape of a minor that occurred at a primary school in Rocklands.
Edith Kriel, a social worker with Jelly Beanz Inc, a non-profit organisation that offers counselling to children who have experienced trauma, said the matter should have been reported immediately and the girl should have received medical attention within 72 hours. She should also have received counselling.
“The parents of the boys should also have been called in immediately. What would happen if they did it to another child? Efforts will have to be made to try and understand where the behaviour is coming from and the boys need some kind of intervention.”