Johannesburg - Trauma and fury were etched on the faces of parents of a Soweto school on Tuesday, where 54 schoolgirls are alleged to have been sexually violated by the school’s security guard.
The incidents occurred at the school in Orlando East, where the 57-year-old guard was arrested on Monday night, Soweto police said.
The suspected paedophile is expected to appear in the Protea Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday on charges of sexually assaulting minors.
A mother whose 6-year-old daughter is alleged to have been one of the guard’s victims, could barely contain her tears as she related to The Star what her child had been subjected to.
The shocked mother said she received a message from her daughter’s father on Tuesday morning, telling her to go to the local clinic immediately, because “something bad has happened to our daughter”.
“When I arrived at the clinic, I was informed that my daughter had been sexually abused and I broke down.
“The nurse asked my daughter what had happened and my daughter told her that mkhulu (grandpa) keeps touching her inappropriately, saying the security guard had put his fingers in her vaginal area,” she said.
The girl told both her parents and the nurse that it had happened “on a regular basis”, the mother said.
Her daughter is a Grade R pupil.
Asked about her daughter’s state of mind, the distraught mother said her child was traumatised, she can’t stop crying - “especially when she sees me. She is refusing to go back to school”.
“I’m worried about what will happen to my daughter when she grows up - how long will this trauma affect her? I’m worried that she could be damaged psychologically.
“My wish is that she receives counselling, because I’m in a state and I don’t know how I’m going to assist my child,” she said.
Another mother, whose 6-year-old daughter was also allegedly violated by the guard, said the child was allegedly touched on her thighs and buttocks “for several months”.
“It was hard for me to listen to my daughter give a statement to the police, because I could see how hurt she was by this ordeal.
“I will have to monitor my child to see if there are any lasting effects, but I hope the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) will provide counselling for her.
“She is only in Grade R,” said the mother.
A community leader who takes schoolchildren to and from school, said he knew the suspect.
“He seemed like a normal person - quiet and down to earth. Little did I know that the devil resides in him,” he said.
Police spokesperson Captain Nomvula Mbense said the guard was apprehended after a parent complained to the principal that her daughter had been violated.
“The principal requested the teachers to question the girls in their classes (on Monday), where a list of 54 alleged victims was drawn up.”
The Child Protection Unit went to the school and arrested the suspect, Mbense said.
GDE spokesperson Steve Mabona expressed anger and shock. He said the department sent out a team of officials soon after the allegations surfaced, and that the guard’s services were “terminated with immediate effect”.
Mabona said the screening of scholar patrollers was done by the provincial Department of Safety and Security, adding that “an investigation into the appointment of this scholar patroller has been launched”.
He added that the school environment was a place where “learner safety is a priority”.
“The department has a zero tolerance stance to this type of conduct, and it does not hesitate to act when such allegations surface,” he emphasised.
Mabona said counselling of pupils who were affected was already under way.