By ‘Odidi Matai-Sigudla
Tensions were high as school governing body (SGB) representatives, police, Anti-Crime group representatives, ward councillors, and parents gathered on 20 June to discuss the case of a three-year-old child previously thought to have been raped at her crèche. When she returned home from school on 12 June, the girl’s mother found scratches on the side of her private parts and blood on her underwear.
The mother, whose name is being withheld to protect the identity of the victim, said her daughter told her that she either scratched herself or was “pinched” by a boy of the same age. Not knowing how to handle this dilemma, the mother immediately went to the hospital to get the girl examined and opened a case at the police station. The examination revealed no penetration, but swelling and a cut to the child’s private parts.
In the meeting held to discuss the issue, the SAPS asked if the family was satisfied that there was no criminal case. The child’s aunt said she remained concerned that blood had been found on her three-year-old niece’s underwear.
“When it comes to rape, cases are not opened. But children misbehave. We are meant to watch children. It is said that a child tells the truth. If they say they were pinched, they pinched her. What we must do is go to the teacher and tell her to watch the things that happen there. Children are pinching each other in the wrong places,” said the aunt.
A week earlier, just after the alleged incident, the school, whose name is also being withheld to protect the identity of the child, called a meeting for parents to discuss the matter. After the meeting, the child’s mother received a letter from the school telling her that both her children were no longer welcome at the school, and that the parents of the boy who allegedly scratched the little girl, had not forgiven the child for the accusation.
The mother said this was unfair. She had not been told that her daughter’s case would be discussed publicly. “What was the reason for kicking out my child? Just being a concerned parent? Was I wrong to be a concerned parent for my child? What was I supposed to do as a parent?” asked the furious mother in the meeting.
The school principal apologised for acting rashly. “The mistake was ours. We ask forgiveness, and if the mother is still willing, she can return her kids to the school,” she said. However, the mother chose to take her children to another school. The case is still ongoing, and the girl’s parents are waiting for the medical exam results to confirm whether the child was scratched or not.