While news of the death of Bafana Sithole, a child in Grade 11 at Kriel Horskool in Emalahleni, Mpumalanga, has spread like wildfire online, the police and a legal expert have issued a warning about the potential repercussions for South Africans of making false claims.
Advocate Paul Hoffman SC, director and head of projects at Accountability Now, believes that the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide in South Africa has reached a crisis point. As a result, when someone falsely accuses another person of rape, it causes extensive damage to the accused person’s reputation as well as emotional trauma.
His remarks come after a school learner named Sithole hung himself on the school grounds using a tie on Friday.
His mother received a note from him in which he detailed his suffering as a result of the allegations that were supposedly made against him by a classmate of his who, according to users of social media, purportedly later withdrew her claims and indicated that “she was joking.”
In the meantime, pictures of the supposed accuser, who also happens to be a kid and whose photo or name cannot be published by IOL especially because it has not been validated, have been widely disseminated throughout various social media platforms.
In addition, it is not apparent whether the student in question is in fact the same person who has accused Sithole of raping her.
In the meanwhile, Hoffman noted that the general populace of South Africa has to have a better understanding of the damage that false charges, particularly of rape, could lead to and the implications that are associated with such damage.
If a person alleges that a neighbor raped them, that person should report the incident to the authorities.
“The family of the accused can also lay charges or sue you for the loss of support because the person has passed away,” he said. “The deceased person’s estate can do either.”
Colonel Athlenda Mathe, a spokesperson for the National SAPS, stated that anyone who unjustly accuses another person can be arrested for the offense of crimen injuria.
“Under the common law of South Africa, the act of ‘illegally, purposefully, and substantially impairing the dignity of another’ is considered to be the commission of the crime known as ‘crimen injuria.'”
According to Mathe, “By filing a false accusation of rape, the person who is being accused of rape may make a case of crimen injuria against the person who falsely accused him or her of doing the act of raping them,”
Learner from Mpumalanga allegedly says his final words to his mother after he is accused of raping her.
This past weekend, the hashtag #JusticeForBafanaSithole gained traction after it was revealed that a Mpumalanga learner had committed suicide after allegedly being falsely accused of rape. The news of the learner’s death came after it was reported that he had been falsely accused of rape.
On Thursday, a student who was attending Kriel Horskool in Emalahleni, Mpumalanga, and was in the 11th grade is believed to have taken his own life on school grounds.
On Thursday morning, according to the information provided by the department of education for the province, Sithole was found hanging in the storage area of the classroom.
It was said by the department at the time that the events that led up to this tragedy were unknown; nevertheless, it was discovered in the days that followed that he plotted his own suicide after he was supposedly wrongly accused of rape by another classmate.
Gerald Sambo, a spokesperson for the Mpumalanga Department of Education, confirmed the event and added that one of the teachers discovered the learner’s body hanging in one of the classrooms.
“One of the educators went back into the classroom where the learner was found and found that he had already hanged himself. The learners are currently in the process of taking their end-of-year exams, and they had just finished taking the examination. Some of the other learners had already left to go home.
“They phoned him, the medical practitioners, and together with the local doctor who came in, they tried to resuscitate the child but unfortunately it was already too late, they were unable to save the infant “Sambo added.
He stated that a representative from the department would go to the school to offer help to the affected students as well as their families. On Friday, a number of government representatives went to the school in order to get more information about the incident and provide their assistance.
It is believed that Sithole wrote an emotional note to his mother before committing suicide. The note, which has since gone viral on social media, contains the following statement: “My soul will not rest in peace because I have been sent to death by those who claimed that I was a rapist.”
“The young man understood the system would fail him and not just now but also in the future this allegation was going to close a lot of doors for him,” Kay-Geezle @kagiso mmotlana wrote on Twitter.