Rape charges reinstated against Durban school principal

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A charge of rape by a 16-year-old Grade 10 pupil against the principal of a school at Verulam, north of Durban, has been reinstated by the Verulam Magistrate’s Court. This follows the intervention of a non-governmental organisation Corruption Watch.

The pupil, who will be referred to as Norma to protect her identity, has joined the ever growing statistics of juveniles who are victims of sexual abuse, allegedly at the hands of the people they trust most, like educators.

The school principal has been recharged with rape by the Verulam Magistrate’s Court and last appeared on the 7th of November.

The pupil, who we will call Norma to protect her identity, is the provider and head of her household after the death of her parents.

She and her three siblings depend on good neighbours and educators for support and guidance.

The headmaster of the school in Verulam is one of the people who had allegedly regularly offered help to Norma and her siblings.

That is until the Easter weekend in 2017, when the principal allegedly picked Norma up from her house to accompany him to his house under the pretext of fetching food and clothes.

According to Corruption Watch, the principal allegedly sexually assaulted Norma and bought her silence with a R100 note.

Corruption Watch Deputy Director Ronald Menoe says their organisation has re-opened the case which had earlier been withdrawn. He says they want to see justice being served.

“So, we have a teenage girl in Verulam who has made allegations against the school principal for wanting to sleep with her and we are talking about a child here, who is already a victim of many things, because she is from a child-headed household. She says she has siblings she’s been living with in the house where she has been the sole provider for the children. Because of how the system is failing her, the matter was reported to the police; the police initially didn’t want to open a case for her, nothing happened, which means the child was always in danger and victim in the school because the principal is always there.”

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education says it will monitor court proceedings as it condemns the abuse of pupils, especially by those who are meant to protect and guide them, like educators.

Department Spokesperson Scelo Khuzwayo, says, “Since the matter has been brought back to court, it has therefore become a matter that is subjudice, which, therefore, means we cannot, at this stage, be able to talk about it. But, we do want to stress the fact that as the Department of Education in this province, we tried our best to ensure that our learners are protected or we do all our best to ensure that we fight against any form of abuse directed at our learners and anyone within our system.”

Meanwhile, police spokesperson in KwaZulu-Natal, Thembeka Mbhele says the case has been reinstated and police continue with their investigation.

“The suspect was arrested and the case was taken to court. The guardian came with the child to the police station that they wanted to withdraw the case, according to the investigative officers. Another prosecutor decided to withdraw the case. After the intervention of an NGO in Verulam, the case was reinstated. He last appeared on the 7th of November.”

Norma is currently at a place of safety.

Corruption Watch believes the delays in the investigation mean that the learner remains in a vulnerable situation away from her support networks and siblings, but they remain hopeful that the truth will come out in court.