The Western Cape education department says a boy who underwent initiation while on a school rugby tour never claimed he was sexually assaulted.
“The boy and his father vehemently denied that. I can only think that this claim stemmed from people who looked at the tour photos that were put up on the web,” education spokesperson Paddy Attwell said.
“The pictures had a sexual element to them but there was no evidence to suggest sexual assault took place.”
According to a Beeld report on May 10, the boy’s mother claimed he was sexually assaulted with a broom handle and a banana in March after playing a rugby match against a local school, while camping at Velddrif on the West Coast.
She told the newspaper that he had sent her a “please call me” from his cellphone after the older boys apparently wanted to shave his head.
The next night, after he had gone to sleep, he was allegedly attacked in his bed and raped. The attackers also shaved his eyebrows, squirted toothpaste up his nose and drew a phallic object on his forehead.
Various reports that followed had assumed, as fact, that the boy and his father claimed the same thing, Attwell said.
Lt-Col Andrè Traut confirmed that a case was opened at Bothasig police station in connection with the Edgemead High School rugby tour.
But a senior state prosecutor declined to prosecute after looking at the complete docket, Traut said.
The department conducted its own investigation to determine whether any sexual violation, humiliation or initiation had taken place.
“The investigation found that learners engaged in initiation practices, which included shaving the hair of newcomers and drinking a non-alcoholic mixture of various substances,” Attwell said.
Certain team members drank alcohol despite a warning by their coach.
Attwell said team members subjected the boy to humiliating treatment on the night of March 17 and took photos which appeared on social media sites.
Seven pupils were suspended for seven days after a disciplinary hearing.
It was found that the school had followed the correct disciplinary procedure.
“The investigation could not find evidence that the boy was raped or sexually assaulted. The boy and his family have denied making this claim,” Attwell said.
The department, nonetheless, condemned the pupils’ behaviour as appalling.
A warning letter on initiation practices would be sent to the principal. He would be expected to reply with measures he had taken to ensure that initiation did not happen again. – Sapa