Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Ekurhuleni - Two Grade 12 pupils accused of raping a Grade 9 pupil inside a toilet at an Ekurhuleni high school have been suspended, the Gauteng Department of Education announced on Monday.

The two are alleged to have raped their fellow schoolmate at Thuto Lesedi Secondary School in Vosloorus during the long break on July 25.

The victim, 16, was apparently dragged to the toilet, where she was brutally assaulted and sexually violated. 

Gauteng police have since confirmed they are investigating a criminal case.

The department in a statement confirmed that Gauteng MEC for Education and Youth Development Panyaza Lesufi would visit the school on Tuesday.

"This is to inform that the two pupils who are alleged to be involved in this alleged rape incident are suspended and as such their disciplinary hearing will take place tomorrow [Tuesday]. 

"The department has a zero-tolerance policy to allegations of sexual misconduct, and where the allegations are proven true, the department will not hesitate to take decisive action against the perpetrators."

The department said it strongly condemned any acts of misconduct, which sought to undermine the dignity of both the pupils and educators. 

It further identified pupil discipline as one of its priorities as a department. 

"We want cases such as school based violence, gangsterism, drug abuse, cyber bullying and other related serious misdemeanours to be expedited, as well as ensure that the department is proactive in identifying preventative strategies to eliminate these social ills from the school environment.

"The said school is on high alert for any vehicle purported to be delivering drugs at the school, with intentions of dealing in and around the school. Such conduct will not be allowed or tolerated in our schooling environment."

Adding to this was Lesufi, who said: “It is regrettable that such an unfortunate incident occurred in our environment where pupils must receive education not abuse, especially from fellow pupils. Our psycho social unit has already offered necessary counselling to the victim and because of the severe trauma suffered, necessary follow-up sessions to assess her readiness to go back to school will be conducted".

"Furthermore, it is important to indicate that allegations of the principal having sexual relations with pupils are not substantiated. Accordingly, no incident has been reported. Pupils will be encouraged to report such allegations to the department for necessary intervention and investigation."