Pupil expelled after reporting rape

Stuart Hess

A disabled pupil was expelled from her school after she laid a charge of rape against two pupils. The boys have not been expelled.

A doctor at Cecilia Makiwane hospital, who examined the pupil and confirmed she was raped, said this was not the first rape complaint at the Vukuhambe School for the Disabled in Mdantsane near East London.

She advised the pupil’s parents to lay a criminal charge against the boys after the school promised to investigate the incident but took no action against the boys.

The 20-year-old pupil, who cannot be named, was brain damaged in a car accident in 1986.
Her mother said that despite her age, the pupil still behaved like a child.

The pupil told a teacher that she was raped by two boys at the school on October 30.

According to the pupil’s mother, the boys saw her sitting alone in a classroom and asked her to have sex with them. When she refused, they took her to a strongroom where they both raped her.

“She didn’t tell me anything, but I could tell that something was wrong because she had nightmares and would wake up screaming,” said the pupil’s mother.

The pupil’s mother was later informed of the alleged rape by a teacher at the school.

Both boys appeared in Mdantsane Magistrate’s Court last week. The case was postponed to December 7 to allow police more time to investigate. The boys were released into the custody of their parents.

The principal of Vukuhambe, Mrs ME van Reenen, told the family their daughter would not be allowed to return to the school next year. She said the pupil was problematic and that she would fail if she wrote her final examinations.

The pupil’s mother disputes this, saying she has never received complaints about her daughter’s conduct at the school.

Van Reenen described the incident between the three pupils as “sexual activities” and not rape. “I contradict statements made by the family very strongly,” said Van Reenen.

She said the school had taken the correct steps in dealing with the incident, and it was being addressed by the Department of Education.

“The family should be very careful of the allegations they make as these could lead to serious repercussions,” said Van Reenen.

Vukuhambe is a boarding school and a day school for pupils from Mdantsane. The school’s 148 pupils have various disabilities such as cerebral palsy, polio, muscular dystrophy and physical amputations.

Van Reenen said a similar incident had occurred at the school last year. “That was not rape, but also sexual activities.”

Inspector Khaya Mooi, who is investigating the complaint, said the boys claimed that the pupil consented when they asked her to have sex with them. “They both claimed to be her boyfriend,” said Mooi.

The acting regional director for education in the central Eastern Cape, Bungane Magqaza, says the department will take the necessary action should the boys be found guilty.

He said the department would investigate all allegations made against the school. Despite the ongoing investigation, the boys are still attending school.

While the pupil is able to walk, the nerves in her right hand were damaged and she is blind in her right eye. Her mother says she does not like being among other people, and breaks out in fits of laughter or anger for no apparent reason.

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