Rape claim at special needs school

A 10-year-old boy claims that he was raped by a staff member at school.

A 10-year-old Hanover Park boy who once loved attending school now fears for his safety after he alleged he was raped by a staff member at the special needs school he attends.

The boy, who is dyslexic, claims that the rape took place around October 15 last year.

His mother said while she was bathing him on that day, she had asked him how school was. He responded that while he had been taking a nap at school, a person by name of “Byron” had raped him. He said this person had “sat on his back and rode horsey”.

According to his mother, he said he had told the man to get off and that he needed to pee. “Byron” then went to the toilet with him and had pinched his penis until it bled, the boy told his mother. When she asked her son what the colour of blood is, he said “red”.

She said her son told her he had then wiped his penis and threw the toilet paper in the toilet.

After speaking to other pupils at the school, the woman took her son for an examination at Cape Town Child Welfare three days later. During this time, she said, she had noticed her son had started eating excessively and was very emotional.

The boy was then also examined by a doctor at Heideveld Day Hospital – three days after he told his mother about the rape. According to the medical report, there had been scabs on his anus and possible penetration with an object or penis could not be ruled out.

The boy was given an antibiotic and an HIV/Aids test which cameback negative.

The following day, October 19 2016, Detective Sergeant Abbigale Plato from the Mitchell’s Plain Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit (FSC) visited the family and took a statement. According to provincial police spokesman Captain FC Van Wyk, the FSC unit then provided the boy with counselling.

The mother said after Detective Plato had visited the school, a meeting was arranged for October 26 but that the principal had asked to be excused as he had had an urgent matter to attend to. The detective then said that he needed to be present and the meeting went ahead.

On that day, the detective requested a staff line-up so that the boy could identify the perpetrator but he was not able to do so. His mother, however, noted that only two staff members had participated in this line-up.

She said the detective then set up an appointment with Cape Mental Health as they as they had the required expertise to work with adults and children who had intellectual disabilities, but because the perpetrator had not been found, the appointment was cancelled.

Gerrie van Eeden, spokesperson for Cape Mental Health explained that sexual abuse victims with mental disabilities were usually counselled in the Sexual Abuse Victim Empowerment (SAVE) programme but because the perpetrator had not beeng found, the boy had been taken out of the programme and referred to the regular social workers for counselling.

The boy’s mother said it was extremely painful to watch her son go through this.

“On Thursday January 12, I sent my son to school although he was not very keen on going. My son loved school and would even want to go over weekends so it was very difficult seeing him being unsure and nervous about going to a place he loved before,” she said.

The boy has not been back to school since.

Asked for their input on the matter, Western Cape Education Department’s spokeswoman, Millicent Merton, said: “I can confirm that the parent of a learner from a special needs school reported a case of sexual abuse with the South African Police Services. The reported abuse was attended to in accordance with the Sexual Offences Act (2007) as well as the WCED’s Abuse No More Protocol.”

She added that the principal of the school had co-operated fully with police as well as Child Welfare. “The alleged perpetrator identified by the learner is not known to the school. All the allegations are subject to a police investigation.”

The further management of the case is with Child Welfare. The allegations regarding the experiences of the learner by the alleged perpetrator at school could not be verified and is subject to a police investigation. All concerns pertaining to the welfare of the learners at are treated seriously and dealt in accordance with the guidelines provided by the Western Cape Education Department and all applicable legislation,” she said.

Captain Van Wyk said the case was currently with the senior public prosecutor.

“This office confirms that a sexual assault case was opened at Athlone police station and then transferred to be investigated by Nyanga FCS Unit by Sergeant Abbigale Plato. The case was opened last year in October 2016. The case is currently with the senior public prosecutor for decision.”