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School CP - May 2008

Corpun file 20265, South Africa, 10 May 2008

Ten lashes for rape accused

By Tshwarelo eseng Mogakane and Thabisile Khoza

White River, South Africa - A 20-year-old pupil accused of raping a 16-year-old fellow pupil at a private school in Mpumalanga was given ten lashes as punishment and allowed to continue attending school.

The alleged rape took place when the girl was attending a study session at the William English Medium (WEM) School in KaBokweni, near White River, on April 20.

Her brother, who can't be named to protect her identity, said the school should at least have expelled the suspect. "All they did was give him ten lashes on his backside. That was it. The family is very shocked. How could a principal, a chief educator, let the matter go just like that?" he said.

He said he had opened a case with the police and that the man was arrested and then released on bail. "It was a shock for my sister to find him at school when she returned last Monday," he said.

'Too late and dark'

He said his sister, who was a boarder at the school, was attending a night-time study session in one of the classrooms when a girl told her that a certain man wanted to speak to her.

He said the girl pushed his sister out the door and the man dragged her to another class where she was raped.

When she returned to the study session, allegedly in tears, her study partners immediately alerted the boarding master.

He is accused of saying it was too late and dark to help her and that the suspect was probably long gone.

Her study partners then convinced her to inform her family.

Her brother said the principal questioned whether the girl had been penetrated.

When the family produced a doctor's findings that the girl had been forcibly penetrated, the principal and boarding master decided to give the suspect lashes as punishment.


Director of the school, William Mohaule, was aware of the rape case and said it was "complicated".

"This is a very complicated case. According to the report I received from the principal, the man and the girl are lovers and were caught in the act," said Mohaule. "The girl probably changed the story to save her skin. It's like when you send a child to buy something and they lose the money. They won't come back and say they lost it, they would say they were mugged instead."

He said he would investigate further, however, as he was not always aware of what happened at the school.

"The problem is that I don't know everything that happens at the school because I have so many schools," he explained.

Mpumalanga's education spokesperson Hlahla Ngwenya has also undertaken to investigate the case, not only because of the rape allegations, but because it is illegal to use corporal punishment on pupils.

"If our investigation reveals that this is true, we may be forced to close down the school," said Ngwenya.

He said the man should have been charged with misconduct and undergone a hearing so a decision could be made about his fate at the school.

The South African Council of Educators (SACE) has encouraged the girl's family to lodge a formal complaint with them so that action can be taken against the school.

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