A 13-year-old South African boy suffering from Down syndrome was allegedly raped by a male general worker and subsequently locked in a classroom at a special needs school in Benoni.
According to SowetanLIVE, the August 5 incident, according to the distraught victim’s mother was initially almost brushed off by school authorities who rather allowed the accused to return to work after she lodged a complaint. The school principal also told the victim’s mother the boy was to leave the school for a period of three months so as to allow them to get to the bottom of the matter.
Narrating the incident, the boy’s mother said she went to the school to pick him up only to spend over an hour looking for him as he wasn’t at their usual pick-up spot. She added that she was assisted by a teacher and the vice-principal of the school.
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“We walked around the school calling out his name but he did not respond. I was scared and confused and didn’t know where else I would look for him,” she told SowetanLIVE.
As they continued the search, she said they came across the general worker who panicked and was hesitant when he saw them as he was running.
“He wanted to stop running and panicked then slowed down and got into a walking stride before asking us what was wrong. The teacher told him that we were looking for a missing boy. He offered to help us find him, saying that my son was probably asleep in one of the classrooms,” she said.
“He went to one classroom and unlocked it. It was strange that my son came out immediately – not like someone who was asleep – but like someone who had been up and was waiting for the door to be opened. I didn’t pay much attention to it because I was happy to have found him,” she added.
The victim’s mother said her son acted weird and wasn’t himself when they found him and also smelled bad.
“His eyes were red as if he was crying and when we stepped into the vehicle I noticed a smell emanating from him. As if he didn’t wipe himself properly after using the toilet.”
Speaking with IOL, she said it was when she was about bathing the boy at home when she saw semen on his anus.
“I asked him what happened and he started crying. He said an ‘uncle Martin’ did that to him. He said when I was screaming, looking for him, he could hear me, but the man had his hand over his mouth. This is the worst thing for me. I couldn’t save my son,” she said.
She said she reported the incident to the school authorities then took the boy to a clinic for examination.
“The doctors checked him the next day and confirmed that he was raped. What upset me was the school’s decision not to suspend the man who did this but told me to keep my son at home until the investigation was finalised,” she told SowetanLIVE.
“But I reported it to the department [of education] and it intervened. I was then told that my son could return and the worker would be limited to the school’s garden and not around the classrooms,” she added.
She also added that the suspect hasn’t been arrested yet despite reporting the case – something the spokesperson at the Benoni police station Captain Nomsa Sekele confirmed to IOL.
“I can confirm that a rape case has been opened and no one has been arrested yet,” Sekele said.
However, the victim’s mother’s earlier claim that the accused was allowed to continue working though the incident was reported was denied by Education spokesperson Steve Mabona, SowetanLIVE reports. According to Mabona, the accused, who is set to go through a disciplinary procedure was immediately suspended after they were made aware of the incident.
“The matter has been reported to the police and we will request the police to escalate this sensitive case to the province for necessary attention,” Mabona said.