The mother of a 13-year-old girl who was allegedly raped by three older boys in an Eastern Cape school dormitory says her daughter was left to fend for herself despite many promises of support and advice from the Eastern Cape Department of Education.< /p>
The incident in early June was only reported on July 1st. Three boys have since been arrested and released on bail.
“The Department of Education keeps making promises, but no one comes to keep those promises. The district manager called me last week and said they just heard what happened and would send someone to help my daughter. Nobody came.”
Now the girl has another fear: “They want her to make a statement and come to the disciplinary meeting on Tuesday. My child is terrified to go back to school even if it is part of the investigation. You already have a testimony in court. Why don’t you use this one?
“On Tuesday there will be no professional person to help her. She will have to relive that horrific day by recounting what happened or making a different statement. What if my daughter collapses from stress and trauma?” she asked.
While investigations by the Crime and Education Departments continue, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has stepped into the fray with an investigation into the allegations .
Commission staff member Dr. Eileen Carter said four boys were present when the incident occurred, but only three were charged.
“We learned from media reports what allegedly happened and drove to the secondary school near Komani on Monday , um… what happened,” Carter said.
The commission determined that the incident occurred in the boys’ section of the hostel. “Four boys asked the 13-year-old to join them in their room about 50m from the hostel entrance. Then they went with the learner – specifically a boy – to a back room where the incident happened.
“Three of the boys have since been involved in the incident while the fourth has not because he was just present in the.” Space.”
Carter and the SAHRC have several concerns. “According to information we received through interviews, there was allegedly no supervisor on the ground floor. In fact, there was only one overseer for the boys’ home, which was a two-story building, and that overseer stayed on the top floor. So there was no one on the older boys floor to monitor who was going in and who was going out,” Carter said.
Another concern for SAHRC was that the CCTV cameras in the dorm were not working.
“There were CCTV cameras, but due to load shedding, these cameras do not appear to be operational. However, people we interviewed indicated that even when load shedding didn’t occur, the cameras still didn’t work because the guys were tampering with the hardware.”
Carter doesn’t believe the incident happened during a seizure of load shedding. “We are concerned that safety precautions are not being taken or thought of when a load shedding occurs. So what is the plan of action in schools and dormitories if this is the case, and do we have enough supervision in dormitories in areas where children may be alone during these power outages to ensure their interests are not compromised?”
She said the commission had been told that social development had been notified and expected the department would be in touch with the victim.
“We learned this morning that this did not happen, which is extremely worrying. That the victim hasn’t received counseling is a big red flag.”
She felt the victim wasn’t the only child at school who needed help.
“We also pointed out to the school that not only did the victim need counseling, but every single student at that school. Knowing what steps to take if such an incident occurs. What are the steps to follow to report? What other steps can one take to get support from school officials?”
Carter said that calls for help have not entirely fallen on deaf ears.
“What I can tell you is, that the caretaker of the girls’ home was very reactive, very responsive to the needs of the children and she reported this immediately and took action so that this matter could be formalized within 24 hours. We take note of their quick action and commend them.”
Carter said, “We need to have a bigger discussion. “We are reeling from the Scenery Park incident and now we are reeling from this incident. We really need to start putting our children’s interests above all else.”
The Eastern Cape Department of Education could not be immediately reached for comment.
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