Fresh start for abused school kids

PUPILS at the centre of an alleged sex orgy scandal with teachers at Makhumbuza High School in Umlazi, Durban, will start next term (on Monday) at new schools.

The pupils, aged 15 to 21, spoke out against teachers they claim forced them to have sex in the school laboratory in exchange for money and liquor.

The pupils were transferred to other schools after alleged intimidation against some of them. One was assaulted by schoolmates who had teased and accused her of willingly sleeping with a teacher.

Mlu Ntombela, education director in the Umlazi district, said yesterday that the girls were moved as a precaution.

"We want to ensure the safety of these pupils while investigations are going on. They need to get on with their schooling without further disturbance," said Ntombela.

About 20 pupils have claimed they were raped and indecently assaulted by male teachers at the school. The pupils claim the teachers plied them with money and liquor for sexual favours.

Five teachers have been suspended and the provincial education department has opened an investigation and disciplinary hearings. One teacher facing charges of rape, crimen injuria and sexual harassment is out on bail.

The Congress of SA Students in the province has asked the department to speed up the internal investigations so that victims can get their lives back on track.

"The department has appointed a team of independent investigators to deal with the matter and the internal hearings. These are expected to conclude at the end of August," Cosas' Bhekisisa Shabane said yesterday.

Shabane said Cosas was pleased that the victims would be moved from the "school of shame" to where they would be able to learn without fear of being victimised orintimidated.