School principal charged with rape

A 39-year-old black principal from one of the high schools in Thabong who was arrested for allegedly raping an 18-year-old learner from his school, appeared before the Welkom Magistrate’s Court today.

The Free State police say he will apply for bail tomorrow. He was arrested on Sunday.

It is alleged that the man was dropping learners off at their respective homes after a school trip to Johannesburg on July 24.

Just before midnight, after all the kids were dropped off, he allegedly asked the complainant to give him a hug and a kiss in his car, after which he allegedly had sexual intercourse with her without her consent.

She reported the matter to a friend and a teacher.

A case of rape was registered.

South Africa has the highest rates of rape in the world, according to Interpol, and the highest incidence of HIV.

The National Prosecuting Authority tells us that 50 percent of all cases before South African courts are for rape, except in Durban and Mdantsane, where it is 60 percent.

Although the Law Reform Commission estimates there are 1,7 million rapes a year, on average only 54 000 rape survivors lay charges each year.

Rape survivors battle with the police, doctors, psychologists and the courts to get justice.

A Medical Research Council study into conditions for rape survivors in Gauteng in 2002 found that the treatment of survivors by police and medical and court personnel was deplorable. Two researchers were so traumatised by what they witnessed that they had to go for counselling.

Last year the cabinet removed Section 21 from the new Sexual Offences Bill, which would have given post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP, which is medication to prevent HIV) as well as medication to prevent STIs and pregnancy to rape survivors. They left in Section 22, which guarantees medical care for the rapist and undertakes to rehabilitate any alcohol or narcotics addictions he might have.

Professor Ames Dhai of the University of Natal points out that there are twice as many rape survivors at risk of seroconversion to HIV than there are babies born in South Africa to HIV-positive mothers, yet there are few calls for PEP for rape survivors.