POLICE confirmed yesterday that the teacher who allegedly raped a 14-year-old disabled orphan at Indaleni School for the Deaf in Richmond, KwaZulu-Natal, is to be arrested soon.

"We can confirm that a rape charge has been laid and an arrest is imminent," police spokesperson Vincent Mdunge said yesterday.

A family member said the girl was raped last year. The Grade 7 pupil, who is deaf and dumb, gave up her classes last month and dropped out of school.

The orphan's sister is now pleading with the education authorities to help her.

The older sister, who is aged 24, and cannot be named to protect the victim, said the ordeal had caused her sibling "psychological strain".

The two orphans rent a shack at Bhekuzulu township in Vryheid in northern Zululand. They lost their parents between 2003 and 2005.

The elder sister said she had only heard of her sister's ordeal when she tried to commit suicide at the end of last month.

"She drank washing powder. When this failed to kill her, she tried to hang herself at school, but fortunately other pupils saved her," she said.

The sister said she went to the school to find out why her sister had tried to commit suicide but was not given any explanation.

"One of the teachers later phoned to tell me that she had told the school principal that one of the teachers who stayed in the hostel had raped her in November but that the principal was keeping the matter quiet to protect the teacher. The principal has not told me anything," she said.

She said she confronted the principal but he denied knowing anything. The teacher is still at the school. She said her sister is so traumatised that "I am afraid she might hurt herself as she has not received any counselling. She is always talking about death," the sister said.

She said she had now sought a new school for her sister in Pinetown outside Durban.

"The fees at that school are R18000 a year and I cannot afford it," she said.

Education department spokesperson Mbali Thusi said they would see to it that the girl continued with her education.

"Obviously, from the allegations, it will be difficult for her to continue studying at that school. We will see to it that she enrolls at another school. As for the teacher, we will investigate. If the allegations are true, we will take the necessary steps," said Thusi.