Khaya Ngwenya City Pres

Lungelo Mkamba

THE SUPPORTERS of a principal facing four rape and three sexual assault charges attacked an investigating officer and an SABC cameraman just metres from a police station yesterday.

The group, armed with knobkieries and sticks, were at the Scottburgh Magistrate’s Court in KwaZulu-Natal to support the 44-year-old principal, who was making his bail application. The case was postponed until November 22.

The principal is also facing one charge of exposing himself.

The man was arrested at his primary school last week after girls approached police officers visiting their school on an outreach programme. They said the man had lured them into his office to clean or to give them extra lessons.

Several hundred people were at court for the man’s second appearance yesterday. They included children’s rights activists, the ANC, the SA Democratic Teachers Union, the children’s parents and residents.

The situation became tense inside the court when the principal’s supporters and the opposing group began exchanging jibes.

Outside a face-off erupted when the investigating officer arrived. She was mobbed by the principal’s supporters, who beat her up.

She managed to hold on to the docket throughout the attack.

Despite the court being only metres from the police station, no police officers came to assist her – despite her shouts and pleas to the group to let her go.

She returned later with three policemen and identified her attackers, who fled on foot, with the policemen in pursuit.

SABC cameraman Zamo Ngcobo, who was filming the attack, then became the target of the group when a woman, who later said she was the principal’s daughter, threw water in his face.

The group slapped him around and tried to take away his camera.

Local ANC councillor Ntokozo Maphumulo then intervened, using his body to separate the group from the cameraman.

Residents had earlier slapped and punched the principal’s daughter.

Maphumulo had tried to intervene and calm down the groups then, too, but was unsuccessful.

He was at one stage knocked to the ground by a man wielding a piece of wood.

A number of terrified women ran from the fight, crying and calling for help.

Police spokesman Thulani Zwane confirmed the incident and said a 20-year-old woman, the principal’s daughter, had been arrested for allegedly assaulting a police officer.

Zwane said the woman was charged with assault and appeared in the Scottburgh Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

Addressing the community afterwards, Maphumulo criticised the manner in which the police had handled the incident.

“If an investigating officer and journalist can be attacked, then how safe are we?” he asked.

“I call on the police to please protect us.”