South Africa: Alleged Soweto School Sexual Assault By Cop a Gross Form of Betrayal, Says Children's NGO

Acting Judge Peet Johnson handing down judgment in the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court.

Children's NGO Teddy Bear Clinic on Wednesday said it was appalled that an official who was meant to protect sexual victims allegedly ended up harming them.

"The incident was a gross form of betrayal and deceit," the clinic's forensic social worker Dr Shaheda Omar told News24.

Omar was referring to allegations of molestation against a police investigator tasked with investigating claims that at least 87 pupils were sexually assaulted by a security guard/scholar patroller at AB Xuma Primary School.

The allegations were levelled against the investigator, from the SAPS' family, child protection and sexual offences (FCS) unit, on Tuesday.

The Gauteng education department revealed that the forensic investigator was alleged to have abused two pupils at AB Xuma Primary School.

Omar was asked how it came about that the officer was the only person investigating the matter, without involvement of other parties such as a psychologist or social worker.

'A gap in the system'

"Under normal circumstances for health conditions this is standard practice where one person would be conducting the assessment," she told News24 in reply.

"This clearly points to the fact that there is a gap in the system.

"The most important thing out of all of this is the issue of trust because the very systems that are supposed to protect and ensure the safety of children, it is a representative of a system that has now re-violated children. So, can children trust again?"

Omar said all stakeholders would have to come on board, revisit and review what has happened and ensure that this doesn't happen again at any school or to any child.

Steve Mabona, spokesperson for the department, said the incident allegedly occurred on Monday, March 12, when the officer visited the school to prepare the young victims for court.

"It is alleged that the investigator sexually molested the two Grade 3 [pupils], aged seven and eight years old, respectively," he said.

It was unfortunate and regrettable that these were the very same pupils who were the victims of the school patroller, the department said.

The officer has been withdrawn from the case with immediate effect.

57 FCS unit officers have criminal records

Spokesperson for the Independent Police Investigative Directorate Moses Dlamini told News24 that the police watchdog would be investigating the incident.

"We have sent our investigators to take over the docket for investigation," he said.

Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said the allegations were shocking and disturbing.

"A person entrusted with protecting children has violated their trust and that of their parents. This man should [feel] the full might of the law."

Last month, News24 reported that 57 police officers working in the police's FCS unit have criminal records.

This was revealed in a written reply by former police minister Fikile Mbalula to a parliamentary question posed by DA MP Zakhele Mbhele.

Mbhele said among the officers' convictions were at least three cases of culpable homicide, seven of common assault, two of assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm and one instance of pointing a firearm.

Other crimes include driving under the influence, reckless or negligent driving, fraud, loss of firearms and defeating the ends of justice and theft.

Source: News24

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