13-year-old Boy With Down Syndrome Raped by Staff Member in School Classroom—Report

A 13-year-old boy with Down syndrome has been raped by an employee at a special needs school in South Africa, according to reports.

The worker, reported to be a groundsman, is alleged to have assaulted the boy after locking him in a classroom at the Actonville Training Centre Special School in Benoni on August 5.

The child's mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said she found the boy in the classroom after searching for him with teachers.

"We walked around the school calling out his name but he did not respond. I was scared and confused and didn't know where else I would look for him," the mother told the South African daily newspaper Sowetan.

The mother said she saw the suspect running through the corridor, before slowing down when he saw her walking with the school's teachers while looking for the boy. She claimed the worker then told them that the boy was probably asleep in one of the classrooms.

"He went to one classroom and unlocked it. It was strange that my son came out immediately—not like someone who was asleep—but like someone who had been up and was waiting for the door to be opened," the mother added. "I didn't pay much attention to it because I was happy to have found him."

The mother found something strange in the boy's behavior at the time but said nothing. When they got home, she noticed bloodstains and semen on his underwear, which is when the child informed her he'd been raped.

"He said this was when I was looking for him and that [the suspect] beat him and threatened to kill him if he responded to my calls," she added.

The mother claimed that after reporting the alleged attack, the school did not immediately suspend the suspect, who continued working on the grounds.

Gauteng Education spokesman Steve Mabona denied the mother's version of events and said the worker was suspended immediately and that he is due to appear at a disciplinary process in due course.

"The matter has been reported to the police and we will request the police to escalate this sensitive case to the province for necessary attention," Mabona said.

Benoni police spokesperson Captain Nomsa Sekele told Independent Online: "I can confirm that a rape case has been opened and no one has been arrested yet."

Speaking to SABC, Gauteng police spokeswoman Brigadier Mathapelo Peters added: "There is unfortunately no conclusive evidence to link any person.

"We need to make sure that if we do arrest any person that has been named, we must be sure that this person really committed the crime so that at the end of the day, the police don't sit with a case of unlawful arrest against them."

Benoni school
A 13-year-old boy was allegedly raped by a worker at a school for special needs in South Africa. iStock