Anger over mute boy’s rape at Durban special needs school

A parent and teachers are worried about the well- being of children at a Durban North special needs boarding school, after the alleged rape of a pupil there last month.

The identity of the person who raped a mute 11-year-old boy residing at the Golden Hours Special Needs School has yet to be established.

It was only discovered that the boy, who is autistic, had been raped when a class assistant noticed the youngster struggled to walk and his pants were soiled.

His mother, Nosipho Mkhize (not her real name), claimed the school was attempting to downplay her son’s rape.

She was also disappointed that the child was not taken to a hospital immediately but only when she arrived at the school later that day.

Mkhize said a district surgeon who examined her child confirmed he was sexually assaulted, and not for the first time.

“When the doctor confirmed rape, I was devastated. It left me with so many questions.

How could this happen at the school?

Why didn’t the house mother at the hostel notice there was something wrong with the child even before he went to the class?

“He couldn’t walk. That’s how much pain he was in,” she said.

SAPS spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane confirmed the incident and said social workers were also aware of the matter.

“An enquiry has been opened at Durban Central police and the matter is under investigation. The victim has been removed from school by his parent,” said Zwane.

Mkhize claimed that the school principal, Rowan Hornby, did not allow her or the child’s father to speak to any staff members at school to get more information about what had happened.

She also claimed that she was not invited to a parent’s meeting before the department of education’s spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi called the school.

“With everything that has happened, it seemed like the principal didn’t want me there. I think he’s trying to coverup my son’s rape,” the mother claimed.

The parent is also at odds with the school for not asking the staff who noticed her son was in pain to make a statement to police.

“What worries me now is that the perpetrator will abuse other children,”said Mkhize.

One staff member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “The principal was called when staff noticed something was wrong with the child but never responded in spite of being on the school’s premises.

“The principal didn’t give an instruction for the child to be taken to hospital, even though the school’s drivers and vehicles were available,” said the source.

Another source at the school confirmed that police investigators did not interview those who discovered the child, instead they spoke with the principal and the witness she nominated.

Although we do not know the perpetrator, but we suspect younger kids become victims of the older ones,” said the source.

Hornby refused to comment about the matter.

Mahlambi said the department was aware of the rape incident and lashed out at the allegations made against the principal.

“The principal followed all the protocols, she informed the department and submitted a report to us and the police. This matter is under investigation, when she said staff members must not speak about this, it’s because this is a sensitive matter. She is trying to control the situation and deal with it accordingly,” said Mahlambi.

Eureka Olivier, director of Bobbi Bear, an organisation that supports sexually abused children, said they will be monitoring the matter.

“Every adult working with children has a duty to report cases of rape. Should you not, it means you are also committing a crime.

“Cases of child rape are heartbreaking and everyone has to do something to put an end to this scourge. (When) rape claims involve kids with special needs, it’s important that everyone working with the kids are interviewed,” she said.

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