A 5-year-old girl was allegedly raped at her Cape Town school by older boys, and school officials failed to notify her parents of the incident.
The girl was attacked by three boys from Grade 2, which would make them about eight years old, while she was waiting for a ride home.
The attackers allegedly told her to hold onto a tree while they “did what they wanted to do.”
The girl reported the assault to her teacher, and the school informed the three boys’ parents about the incident.
The school didn't say anything to the victim’s parents. Her mother and father didn’t learn of the assault until a week later.
Her father, who was not identified in order to protect the girl’s identity, said the school “failed in its duties.”
“Nobody told me that my daughter had been raped,” he said. "I would have left everything I was doing and gone to the school."
Instead, he and his wife learned what happened when they turned up at the school to get something for their daughter.
“The teacher said she was okay. Then she said: ‘I thought you had come here because of the rape’. We asked her what she meant,” he said.
He said his daughter usually waits for transport by the school’s office but had been chased out that day by a staff member. That’s when three boys approached her.
“They ordered her to take off her underwear,” her father said. "She didn’t want to. They forced her to do it and did what they wanted to do."
Her parents took her to GF Jooste Hospital, where she was given HIV and other tests.
“After that session [with a doctor] she and my wife came out crying,” her father said. “My daughter was crying because of an injection she had received. My wife was crying because the results were positive in terms of penetration.”
The girl's father says she’s too afraid to return to the school.
“I’m really disturbed by the way the school has handled this case,” he said. "My daughter is too afraid to go to school. We’ve noticed that her hands are shaking. We want to transfer her to another school."
“I told [the principal] I couldn’t understand why they had contacted the boys’ parents but didn’t tell us,” he added. “I also found out they had questioned my daughter without permission.”
“The Western Cape Education Department is investigating as to why the alleged victim was not accounted for in the area during this time,” said Bronagh Casey, spokeswoman for Education MEC Donald Grant.
Casey said the parents of the accused boys have been to the school and were told they would be questioned by police. It is unclear whether the school reported the incident to police, and if so, how long it waited to file the report.
Childline manager Joan van Niekerk told News24 that it is normal for children to copy adult behavior until they reach maturity.
About 45 percent of the rapes reported in South Africa involve children, and 50 percent of South African children will be abused before age 18, according to Tears Foundation and the Medical Research Council.