File picture: Independent Media

Johannesburg - The Gauteng Department of Education on Thursday said it was "deeply concerned and disturbed" by the rape of an 8-year-old girl at a primary school in Randburg.

It emerged earlier this week that four Grade 7 pupils, between the ages of 12-14, had allegedly raped the Grade 2 in the school’s toilets.

This incident is alleged to have happened in March.

The department’s Oupa Bodibe explained that the department had indeed been made aware of the incident.

"It is alleged that four Grade 7 boys raped a Grade 2 learner at the boys’ toilets," the department's Oupa Bodibe said.

"The said learner did not report the matter immediately; however, she complained to her parents of having pains on her private parts, and was subsequently taken to the doctor for the necessary examination. It was then confirmed that she had been penetrated."

The girl's parents then informed the school, which in turn informed the school governing body.

The accused were then subjected to a disciplinary hearing, after which two of the boys were exonerated while it was recommended that the remaining two be expelled.

Bodibe added that the matter was also reported to the police, who then took it further.

Confirming this was Johannesburg West cluster spokesperson Captain Walter Spencer, who said that a rape case had been opened.

"The case was registered on April 5 and the first arrest took place on April 20," Spencer said.

"The boys then appeared in court on April 21 and again on May 16, where the matter was remanded to July 18 at the Roodepoort Magistrate's Court."

Bodibe said that all the affected learners were referred to the Teddy Bear Clinic for psychological support.

He added that the department urged learners to speak up on sexual misconduct at schools.