Parktown Boys ‘failed to report’ groping allegations, says department

2017-05-08 16:27

As more pupils come forward following sexual assault allegations against an assistant water polo coach and assistant boarding master, Parktown Boys High is in more hot water for allegedly not reporting the incidents to the department of education.

On Wednesday, the Johannesburg school will come under the spotlight when the 22-year-old accused appears in court.

He was caught on the school’s closed circuit television in November last year, allegedly fondling and groping a 15-year-old pupil.

The Sunday Times reported over the weekend that on November 4 2016 the matter was reported to the police and the accused, who is also a former student of the school, was suspended from the school’s premises, but he had instead tendered his resignation.

He was arrested and is currently out on bail.

Sergeant Mduduzi Zondo of the Hillbrow Police Station told City Press that details couldn’t be given out at this stage, but that many victims have since come forward.

“We have been investigating this since November last year, and the suspect has been out on bail. He will appear in the Johannesburg Regional Court on Wednesday,” Zondo said.

The Gauteng department of education said this morning that the school had failed to report the matter to the department.

“The matter was not formally reported to the department by the school. Rather, the department became aware only after the issue became public. The failure by the school to report these serious allegations smacks of an attempt to sweep them under the carpet,” the department said.

The school, through its public relations company, Vuma Reputation Management, said that it had reported the matter to the department.

“On the morning of the 4th of November 2016, we informed the Gauteng department of education. We provided immediate and ongoing counselling and psychological support to the learners concerned, and have continued to engage with their parents. A senior representative from the department’s psychological services visited the school and is still working closely with us,” the school said.

Oupa Bodipe, spokesperson for the department said that they maintained that the department was not notified.

“We still stand that we were not informed by the school. We only heard about it through a media query in February this year. Neither the school district director nor anyone else was formally approached by the school,” Bodipe told City Press.

Parktown Boys High School says that it is cooperating with all authorities in this regard.

“As a school, we have zero tolerance for any form of crime against, or threat to, our learners at any time, and we are cooperating with authorities to ensure the full might of the law is enforced,” the school said.

This is not the first time that the school has faced a scandal. In 2009, it made headlines after it emerged that the school was instituting unlawful acts of initiation procedures to its Grade 11 pupils, when they were stripped naked and forced to rub Deep Heat on to their genitals. 

Update 12/05/2017: 

In a previous version of this story we stated that one of the teachers at Parktown Boys High “forced” pupils to rub Deep Heat on their genitals. Although the pupils were reportedly forced to rub Deep Heat on themselves, no teacher was present at the time. The relevant teacher was reportedly informed about the events the next day, but failed to take appropriate steps. He was disciplined and temporarily suspended for failing to report the matter to the school. City Press apologises for any embarrassment that may have been caused.

Avantika Seeth
Multimedia journalist
City Press
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February 18 2018