Sex abuse scandal hits school
Allegations of sexual harassment and rape involving an elderly man have emerged at the Riversands Primary School in Diepsloot, north of Johannesburg, after a parent alerted the police.
On Monday at least six pupils were questioned by police about the allegations.
According to a police source, some pupils have alleged that a pensioner who lives at a plot near the school has been offering them money to have sex with them or touch their nipples.
The police source said they were contacted by a concerned mother who was shocked after seeing her 13-year-old daughter coming back from school with cash on several occasions.
"The mother said she failed to get a comprehensive explanation from her daughter about the source of money. After police interrogation, she [the daughter] finally confessed that an elderly man has been calling them to his plot where he would touch their breasts for R20. One of the learners aged, 14, admitted that she slept with the pensioner for R200," said the source.
Sowetan has learnt that a team from the Midrand police and Johannesburg metro police officers were dispatched to the school to probe the matter on Monday.
Another source said some of the children were refusing to speak out despite other pupils confirming the allegations.
Gauteng education department spokesman Steve Mabona said the department was aware and disturbed by the allegations of sexual assaults against children in a schooling environment.
"Our preliminary investigation revealed that the school was aware of this incident which was reported to them in October," said Mabona yesterday.
"We can also confirm that police visited the school yesterday [Monday], and sadly, a case was not opened as per protocol. We have instructed the school to urgently facilitate the opening of a case at the police station."
MEC Panyaza Lesufi said the principal, circuit manager and district director were summoned to explain the incident.
"We appeal to law enforcement agencies to prioritise this case. This incident happens when we are preparing to launch our 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children program.
"Our girl children must always be protected and we will always prioritise their safety," Lesufi said.
Warrant Officer Mmakgomo Semono confirmed that the police were alerted to the matter by a mother.
"However, we couldn't open a case because it was still the first meeting with parents. We couldn't speak to the learners because they are refusing to talk. At the moment we are roping in psychologists and social workers to get a full story from the children," Semono said.