The Eastern Cape Education Department has confirmed that a case has been opened with the police in which it is alleged that seven boys, aged 10 to 13, raped three girls under the age of 10 at a school in the province.
Eastern Cape Education Department spokesperson Malibongwe Mtima said the department had enlisted the assistance of counsellors after the incident.
“A case has been opened with the police and the department has instituted an investigation to determine the extent of the situation, so that a sanction can be equivalent to the extent of the crime committed.
“We want to call on parents to work with us so issues of this nature are reported.”
Javu Baloyi, spokesperson for the Commission for Gender Equality, said violence begets violence.
“Children are witnessing violence in their homes and communities and are thus bound to regard such as normal.
Patriarchy teaches even the young that women are inferior and thus can be treated with disdain and impunity with very little repercussions. The high levels of gender-based violence are unacceptable and are increasingly becoming a norm.”
Baloyi added that parents had a critical part to play to role model non-violent behaviour.
“Non-violent behaviour needs to be taught at home and we need to insist on all sectors of society to do likewise, such as schools, churches and community organisations.”
Mara Glennie, CEO and founder of the TEARS Foundation which provides support to survivors of sexual abuse, said they were concerned about children committing crimes.
“Minor on minor rape is shockingly on the rise in South Africa. One of the factors in this rise is lack of adequate sex education which leaves our children to be unprepared for difficult situations when they arise,” Glennie said.
IFP national spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said the incident was disturbing.
“This grievous situation underscores a broader concern about the erosion of values.”
Hlengwa said the need for urgent action and a societal commitment to address these issues was evident.
Canaan Mdletshe, from the National Freedom Party, said: “We want to specifically lay blame squarely on the shoulders of our government for failing to prioritise what’s important to the nation and creating an environment for children to grow (in) a proper society where kids remain just kids, with enough recreational infrastructure.
“The levels of violence and abuse of women and children in our country have reached alarming proportions, where kids experience it daily, and it has a lasting impact on children.”