Namibia: Seven Pupils Allegedly Molested in Hostel

SEVEN pupils at Tubusis Primary School in the Erongo region were allegedly molested by an older boy in the school hostel.

According to a parent whose children attend school there, the molestation started in 2018 but the school management never reported it to the education circuit, education director or the police.

Early this month, the school suspended all the boys who were allegedly molested, including the alleged perpetrator, because "they did not report it on time".

According to a letter the school's hostel superintendent, only known as Ms I I Dlamini, wrote to guardians and parents on 9 June 2021, parents were expected to attend the pupils' hearings on Thursday last week.

However, the hearing could not take place because some parents live in Windhoek and are restricted to travel to the school due to the Covid-19 lockdown in Windhoek.

In the letter, Dlamini threatened that the children would not be allowed back in the hostel if their parents do not attend the hearings.

"They have now brought them back to the hostel," the parent said, adding that the pupils are saying before the suspect attacked, he would switch the light in the dormitory on and off, then jump onto them and have sex with them. He reportedly told them not to make a noise.

The parent said she is worried about the safety of her child.

She alleged that molested boys have not been taken to hospital to get a post-exposure prophylaxis -- a short course of HIV medicines taken soon after possible exposure to HIV to prevent the virus from taking hold in the body.

The parents are now threatening to remove their children from the school.

"The school knew about the matter but they are sweeping it under the carpet," said one parent.

School principal Ben Axahoeb, who is new at the school, confirmed the matter to The Namibian on Thursday, saying the school is investigating the matter.

He said the matter was only reported to him last week.

However, parents are saying they were informed about the matter three weeks ago.

"They have not been suspended because if we suspend them, where will they go? They are young and are from far. The only house they know is the hostel," he said.

The alleged perpetrator's mother confirmed to The Namibian yesterday that she was informed her child had raped fellow pupils.

"I was informed the day before they got suspended but I understand that this issue started in 2018 before my child started school there. My son went there in 2019," the mother said.

She said when she spoke to her son over the phone, he denied molesting fellow pupils. The mother said her son is 16 years old and is in Grade 7.

Although Axahoeb denied that the children were suspended, the boy's mother said the children were suspended for two weeks and were taken care of by staff at the school.

"They are now back in the hostel. I don't know how they did that. We were supposed to go for a hearing last week but the school principal said we should not travel. We could have obtained travel permits although we are in lockdown," she said.

Omaruru education circuit inspector Engelhardt Uirab said he was not aware of the matter.

"I think information of that nature was supposed to be communicated in writing to my office. I am not aware [of the matter]," he said.

Meanwhile, Erongo director of education Ernfriede Stephanus told The Namibian that usually the region acts on cases immediately after they are reported to them.

"I will follow up and get back to you. Although I am not in the office, I have consulted the deputy director and nothing was reported," she said on Friday.

Executive director in the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture Sanet Steenkamp said she was not aware of the matter.

"It is my first time to hear about it. I will share it with the regional director and we will have an immediate full-scale investigation," she said.

Steenkamp added that if the reports are true, her ministry would give physiological support and counselling to the molested pupils and the alleged perpetrator.

"We will have to understand what happened and whether, in fact, it has also been done to him," Steenkamp said.

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