Home South African Former Drankensberg boys’ choir pupil faces rape charge

Former Drankensberg boys’ choir pupil faces rape charge

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The 15-year-old is believed to have sexually assaulted a 13-year-old pupil at the school in October 2018.

Durban – The National Prosecuting Authority has confirmed that a former Drakensberg Boys’ Choir School pupil is expected to go on trial in April for the rape of another pupil at the school.

The incident allegedly took place in October 2018.

Police spokesperson Thembeka Mbele said police were investigating a case of sexual assault which allegedly took place at the school.

She said the case was being investigated by the Estcourt Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Investigations unit.

She said the 13-year-old boy was sexually assaulted while at school and a 15-year-old suspect had been arrested and made several court appearances.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Natasha Kara said the boy was facing one count of rape, with the trial being set down for April 7 in the Estcourt Regional Court.

Child rights experts said that in terms of the law, the school was obligated to report the matter to the police.

The victim’s mother alleged in an eNCA report that he had only told her about the incident a few days later, and the school had held an internal disciplinary hearing.

Drakensberg Boys’ Choir School executive headmaster Greg Brooks said the school had dealt with the matter “as soon as we were fully in possession of the facts”.

“The parents of the minor boys concerned were also informed of the details of the incident and that a formal disciplinary inquiry would be held,” Brooks said.

“We are always mindful of the possible profound impact any such disciplinary action may have on a child, and in protecting these boys, who left the school over a year ago, must refrain from publishing any information relating to any transgression, disciplinary procedure or the outcome of any such internal proceedings,” he said.

Brooks said the school had co-

operated with requests for assistance to ensure the rule of law would be upheld, but declined to respond to specific questions, saying the matter was sub judice.

Independent child rights consultant and former director of Childline, Dr Joan van Niekerk, said it was “unacceptable” that the victim and accused had faced an internal disciplinary hearing at the school.

Van Niekerk said that if the boy alleged that a sexual offence had taken place, the school was legally mandated to immediately report it the police in terms of Section 54 of the Sexual Offences Act. She said the accused, being a minor, would then have been dealt with in terms of the Child Justice Act, “which takes into account that children are still children, but it doesn’t mean they are allowed to commit a crime and get away with what they have done”.

Director of the Centre for Child Law, Karabo Ozah, said: “The Children’s Act also places an obligation on professional people, including teachers, who on reasonable grounds conclude that a child has been abused in any manner causing injury – including sexual abuse – to report such to a child protection organisation, a social worker or a police official.”

She said that in terms of Section 305(1) and (6) of the Children’s Act, the failure of a professional person to report was an offence punishable by a fine or imprisonment not exceeding 10 years, or both a fine and imprisonment.

The Mercury