The Gauteng Department of Education and Hyde Park High School are being sued for R1.5 million by a former pupil who claims how, after she was r@ped on campus, the school administration failed to report the incident to the police and subjected her to further victimisation.
The pupil and her mother are currently being represented by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), which issued a summons yesterday morning.
Among those served were the department, the school’s principal, Manolis Vogiatzis, three teachers (current and former) and the school governing body (SGB).
According to the summons, the plaintiff was just 15 years old when she was r@ped at the school by a fellow pupil in October 2015.
It is alleged that the perpetrator had turned 18 that day, and had coerced the 15-year-old to send him n#de pictures of herself.
“During the course of their communication through WhatsApp, (the alleged r@pist) demanded that the first plaintiff meet with him during their lunch break at school, in a secluded area. The first plaintiff refused to meet with (him),” the summons reads.
Unhappy that she refused, the pupil allegedly threatened to circulate the 15-year-old’s n#de pictures to the entire school body to force her into meeting him.
The plaintiff told her friends and her register teacher, Nicola Atwell, about the threats, with the teacher allegedly telling her to “put her foot down” but ultimately doing nothing to monitor or prevent the meeting.
When the teenagers met, the 18-year-old forced himself on his younger peer, penetrating her anally, the summons alleged.
Days after the incident, the 15-year-old’s friends reported the r@pe incident to the matric grade head, Rukie Gaudin. “Thereafter, the plaintiff was asked by a guidance counsellor to narrate the details of the rape incident to Mrs (Anita) Solanki at the school without the presence of her parents or a social worker,” the papers read.
The school then called in the young woman’s father, where he was informed of the incident, but none of the teachers involved or the principal ever informed the police.
It was only after a medical examination by an external doctor that the r@pe charge was laid.
The young woman also claims that while the school assured her that an internal disciplinary would be held against her attacker, this never happened.
Because of this, the young woman’s mother asked the principal to assist in transferring her daughter to another school, “as she was concerned that the first plaintiff was not safe and protected”.
However, this request was ignored by the principal and SGB, and the mother had to approach the Department of Education herself.
According to CALS, each of the defendants in the claim are constitutionally obligated to provide a safe educational environment for pupils, and to take measures to ensure the safety of learners within their supervision.“Section 110 (1) of the Children’s Act, No 38 of 2005, places an obligation on the school and the educators to report the rape incident to a designated child protection organisation, the provincial Department of Social Development or a police official.”
The department instituted disciplinary action against the principal, ultimately finding Vogiatzis guilty. The principal was fined one month’s salary and given a final warning.
Department spokesperson Steve Mabona confirmed yesterday it had received the summons.