Johannesburg – A Soweto mother takes off her sunglasses and weeps silently for the pain and trauma her little girl has suffered, allegedly at the hands of someone who the child regarded as a grandfather.
Her daughter is a Grade 2 pupil at a primary school in Soweto where at least 87 girls were allegedly sexually assaulted by a security guard.
“It is too much. If this mkhulu (grandpa) is going to be taken out [of custody], I really don’t know. It is hurtful. Can you imagine a 7-year-old going through all of this? Her future has been demolished by some man who does not know when to stop,” the mother said outside the Protea Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.
The man appeared briefly in court, where the matter was postponed for a week to allow for further investigation and for an identity parade to be conducted.
The court heard that there were only 15 written statements in the docket at this stage, however, more victims were prepared to come forward.
When the man walked into a packed courtroom seven, angry parents hurled insults at him.
A parent screamed, “lenja le (you dog)”, while another shouted “Ag sies” in disgust at the short and slim man, who was once fondly called “mkhulu”.
‘Teachers told her not to tell’
The mother of the 7-year-old said she was disappointed that some parents had not taken their children to the police station to officially report the matter.
“Yesterday (Tuesday) I was here, there were only seven of us who made statements with the prosecutor, out of 87.”
She said she was having a talk with her daughter a few weeks ago when the girl told her what the man had allegedly done to her.
“My child told me that the teachers told her not to tell us anything and that is why she did not say anything.”
The woman said she was pained by what her daughter had gone through.
Another mother, of a Grade R pupil, said she was crushed when she found out that her daughter had allegedly been molested.
“When I met her father at the clinic, I thought my child had been hit by a car or fell at school. When I got there, she was okay. The father told me there was a case of a caretaker at school who molested children and our child was one of them.”
Upon hearing the news, the mother broke down and cried.
“I told my daughter that she has to go to school to face her fears because she will never see the person that did this to her again.”
Vetting of guards to be strengthened
A father complained about not receiving the necessary assistance on the matter.
“I had to take money out of my own pocket to get my kids tested for HIV and other diseases, this is money that we do not have. They did not offer us any services. We were left on our own.”
Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said two other cases of alleged sexual assault in other schools had been reported.
“I received two cases yesterday (Tuesday), one of another patroller that sexually abused a learner in a school in Hammanskraal. We terminated their services and attended to the issue. Fortunately there was a court case and the parents are assisting us with information.”
In a separate incident, a choir conductor had reportedly abused a pupil.
“By the beginning of January next year, we cannot have scholar patrollers whose integrity we cannot trust as society.
“In the schooling environment we need a permanent teacher that will deal with matters of sexual assault in our schools, a person that can be appropriately trained,” said Lesufi.