NEWS & ANALYSIS

Brutality of rape and racism has no place in our schools - Phumzile van Damme

DA NS says assault on pupil at NCape high school was not a "simple act of initiation"

The brutality of rape and racism has no place in our schools

06 February 2015

Today, the DA protested in solidarity with the community of Jan Kempdorp, Northern Cape, following the alleged rape, brutal assault and racial abuse of a learner at a local high school (see DFA report).

The attack was captured on camera, the contents of which, the DA has viewed, leaving us shocked and horrified. This was not a "simple act of initiation", as some claim. It was a racially-motivated violent assault and rape.

We commend the bravery of the victim of this crime in laying charges against the four perpetrators.

The DA will monitor the case closely and should the alleged perpetrators be found guilty, we trust that the court will hand down an appropriate sentence. 

This case also raises the need for a national conversation about the closed cultures in our institutions, from schools right down to the smallest and most important societal unit, the family, and what impact this has on impressionable minds.

I want to repeat that this is more than an initiation, or even a criminal issue. 

Under the cover of "traditions" such as initiations, children are given the platform to act on their racism and homophobia - sanctioned by the institution and often "protected" by just those who went through the same "rites of passage" themselves. Many of these kids are raised by racist, bigoted parents and then spend years and years in these situations where they barely have to disguise this. In fact, it often gets encouraged.

Rape, criminality and racism should not be tolerated in a democratic South Africa, especially not at our schools.

It is the responsibility of parents, communities and schools to instil values that will build a better more inclusive South Africa.

This incident clearly highlights a failure to instil these values.

Statement issued by Phumzile Van Damme, DA National spokesperson, February 6 2015

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