Two Gauteng matric learners accused of attempting to rape a Grade 9 girl have been expelled from the school.
Cautious optimism greeted Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi’s Tuesday visit to Thuto Lesedi Secondary School in Vosloorus, Ekurhuleni, where he acknowledged that the school was “infested with drugs” and violence.
The revelations followed harrowing allegations that on July 25, the 16-year-old schoolgirl, * Phindulo, was forcefully dragged to the boys’ toilets, where her head was smashed against the wall, with one accused penetrating her vagina with his fingers.
One of the accused, a 23-year-old, allegedly stood guard at the toilet door while the alleged assault took place.
However, according to highly-placed sources, the matric learners were found guilty of attempted rape by the school during a hearing that was finalised on Tuesday.
“I think the hearing found that, because the learner was penetrated with fingers, it would be ruled as attempted rape.
“One was found guilty of attempted rape while the other was found to have been an accomplice to the rape.
Both were also found guilty of misleading the school and school governing body disciplinary hearing by lying during this process,” said a source, who asked to remain anonymous.
“But the learners have been expelled and will return only to write their exams,” the source added.
Phindulo’s family, teachers and community who spoke to The Star were cautiously optimistic about Lesufi’s visit.
They expressed their gratitude for the counselling the girl would receive.
But one teacher, who wished to remain anonymous, warned that a full clean-up campaign was needed to restore the school to what the educator called its former glory.
“To be honest, I fear for my life. There are boys at this school who are part of gangs and bring dangerous weapons on our premises.
“Just last week, another boy was found with an Okapi knife in his bag. Then people say we don’t discipline these kids, but how can you discipline someone who could stab you to death?”
Lesufi acknowledged that Thuto Lesedi had a slew of problems, including Grade 12 learners who sold drugs on the premises and have apparently recruited junior learners into this illicit trade.
Lesufi said he was both angry and frustrated with what he called the failure of systems, where it took over two weeks for the Department of Education (GDE) to be fully aware of these allegations, and for disciplinary measures to be taken against the two matric learners.
Asked whether heads would roll for what the victim’s family labelled a cover-up by the GDE, Lesufi said a probe had been launched and the GDE would be guided by the report.
“The basis of any report is to act and to act decisively,” the MEC asserted.
He added that under the normal GDE processes the assaulted girl would have had to receive counselling and offered educational assistance.
“All of those things did not happen,” Lesufi said.
Gauteng police have confirmed that a case is being investigated.