Headlining the front page of the Sunday Times yesterday, the news of the molestation of teens at one of the “oldest and most respected government schools in South Africa” spread throughout the country.
The story reported that more than 20 pupils from Parktown Boy’s in Johannesburg have accused their waterpolo coach of sexual assault, coming out after “surveillance footage allegedly caught the teacher fondling a 15-year-old boy’s genitals”.
The Grade 10’s mother was informed immediately and the accused, a 22-year-old assistant boarding master, a former pupil and popular staff member, was arrested.
On Wednesday, he will appear in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court and face charges of sexual grooming of children, sexual assault and assault. Although charges initially stood at nine, more than 20 learners between the ages of 15 and 16 have come forward.
The accused was caught when the school’s boarding master “came across the scenes on November 3 when he was looking at security footage after being told that bags had been stolen from the hostel”:
The damning closed-circuit footage shows a group of pupils lounging in the common room of a school hostel. Most leave but two remain and it is then that the coach, also an assistant boarding master, allegedly inappropriately touches one of the boys.
The chairman of the school’s governing body, Nicholas Greyling, confirmed that the video footage showed the touching went on for about 25 minutes.
Greyling described the disturbing footage: “What I saw was fondling and inappropriate behaviour and touching. It was the inappropriate touching of genitalia. He [the pupil] didn’t look very comfortable with it, to be honest. Why he didn’t get up and leave the room when this was happening to him I wouldn’t know.”
The coach was arrested last year November and later granted bail of R3 000.
Meanwhile, in an effort to understand just why the hostel boys kept the coach’s alleged sexual assault a secret, “the school enlisted the services of the convener of the Johannesburg Child Advocacy Forum, Luke Lamprecht:
He will be interviewing 15 current and former teachers and old boys individually next week to find out, among other things, how it reached the point where the secret was maintained.
Although he hasn’t made any findings yet on the reasons why the hostel boys had maintained silence over the alleged sex crimes, the general sentiment expressed by them was: “We are a community, we are a group, we stand together,” Lamprecht said.
“Each individual boy would have had a different reason [for maintaining silence], but the overall thing is: ‘We don’t talk out of our ranks’.
“It’s this culture of ‘big boys don’t cry’ that is prevalent in boys’ schools.
“You would expect that if somebody did something, someone would tell immediately,” Lamprecht said.
“How was it that this continued and happened without anybody being told and how was it that the secret was kept? So there was a delay in the children speaking out. “
Read the full details of the story here, and let’s just hope that there aren’t more victims who have found the need to keep quiet.
Perhaps all will be revealed on Wednesday during his Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court appearance.
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