‘Our teach­ers want sex’

In the wake of a scan­dal at a school near Ku­ru­man, Msin­disi Fengu un­cov­ers a sor­did tale of teach­ers sex­u­ally as­sault­ing pupils they’re meant to pro­tect

CityPress - - Front Page -

Karabo* clutches her fin­gers as she re­counts how, when­ever she saw her his­tory and English teacher in the streets of their vil­lage, he would tell her: “I want to have sex with you.”

These episodes went on for eight months. Each time she hap­pened to pass by the teacher, who was drunk, on the streets of her vil­lage in the North­ern Cape, he would tell her the same thing.

But the 15-year-old girl’s prob­lems did not end there. Last month, her maths teacher al­legedly sex­u­ally as­saulted her af­ter promis­ing her a lift to visit her mother, whom she misses ter­ri­bly.

Karabo is not alone. In July, her school­mate Nomsa* (18) was al­most raped by her English teacher at his home.

The two pupils, who at­tend a high school out­side Ku­ru­man, were be­hind the charges laid against two of their male teach­ers. The charges sparked a scan­dal, in which it was first re­ported that about 30 school­girls had been im­preg­nated by their teach­ers.

But the two pupils, along with other girls City Press spoke to, as well as their prin­ci­pal, say this is not true. They say 16 girls have fallen preg­nant there in the past three years, and that not even school-ground gos­sip has re­vealed any teach­ers as the fa­thers.

The pro­vin­cial ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the charges brought by the two pupils.

Karabo, wear­ing grey school pants and Nomsa, in a black-and-white striped school dress, sat side by side at Nomsa’s home this week narrating their or­deal as Nomsa’s grand­fa­ther looked on.

Nomsa only de­cided to re­veal what had hap­pened to her af­ter Karabo told their life ori­en­ta­tion teacher that she was be­ing sex­u­ally ha­rassed by two of her male teach­ers.

This week, three teach­ers were sus­pended from the school by the North­ern Cape ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment.

Two of the teach­ers, aged 35 and 53, were ar­rested and ap­peared in the Ku­ru­man Mag­is­trates’ Court this week on charges of at­tempted rape and sex­ual as­sault.

The other, in his early 30s, is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by the depart­ment for sex­ual mis­con­duct.

Karabo and Nomsa were the only pupils at the school who com­plained. They also said some of their male teach­ers were well-known “blessers” in their vil­lage.

Karabo first tried to tell her grand­mother what hap­pened, but later com­plained to her life ori­en­ta­tion teacher.

“I was scared, but I gave my granny clues about what hap­pened. I al­ways asked her what she would do if some­thing like this hap­pened to her loved one. I de­cided to tell my life ori­en­ta­tion teacher ev­ery­thing,” she said.

The teacher sum­moned the male teach­ers to a meet­ing and con­fronted them. One al­legedly con­fessed to ha­rass­ing Karabo, but the other de­nied it. He al­legedly phoned Karabo later that day and be­gan laugh­ing; she cut the call.

Karabo said the teacher, whom she had viewed as a par­ent and a friendly fig­ure, had texted her, ask­ing her to meet him one Sun­day af­ter­noon in Au­gust in front of a tav­ern in the vil­lage. She got into his car.

“He kissed me. He touched me. I stopped him. I told him that I want to go,” she said.

“He opened his pants zip ... I was shocked. He asked that we do it once and I said I won’t. He said: ‘Let’s do it the next day.’ I said: ‘No.’ He said he’d been want­ing to sleep with me.”

Karabo then jumped out of the car and ran home. Two months be­fore that, Nomsa had gone to her English teacher’s house af­ter her sis­ter asked her to fetch some baby food that the teacher had picked up for her in town. Nomsa ar­rived at about 7pm.

“When I got there, he was mark­ing scripts. He put them on the ta­ble. He started want­ing to make love to me. He wanted to sleep with me. I re­fused. He told me that I’m smart, in­tel­li­gent and clever, and that I must stop act­ing like a child,” she said.

“He didn’t sleep with me, [but] he touched me.” Nomsa said she pushed him away and ran out of the house.

Af­ter their or­deals, the girls now have an­other prob­lem to con­tend with – they want their ar­rested teach­ers to re­turn to school, or re­place­ments for them to be found quickly, so they can pre­pare for ex­ams.

They worry that the year will pass with­out their be­ing able to write the ex­ams.

Nomsa’s grand­fa­ther said he was con­cerned about how the girls would be af­fected.

“It is too painful. What will be the fu­ture of these chil­dren? We send them to school so that, when they grow up, they can help us. But now they are abused in school. This is too much.”

* Not their real names


PLACE OF SHAME Bothitong vil­lage, out­side Ku­ru­man. Two teach­ers have been ar­rested on charges of at­tempted rape and sex­ual as­sault

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