So what is the Jules High School Case Telling Us?
So here I was watching the good old 7 o’clock news and the news headline read Advocate Menzi Simelane has agreed that the NPA will be prosecuting the three Jules High School students for their embroilment in the gang rape – now statutory rape – case. I am ashamed to admit however that I had not caught onto the flurry of media coverage over the alleged gang rape until recently. Like everyone else I moved from complete outrage at the young men…and yes I am saying young men because they seem really young and even though I am only 24 they are ten years younger than me but back to my reaction to this. I was outraged and as the case progressed I was still outraged but confused. We moved from being angry at the police for not attending to the matter immediately and not apprehending the boys as soon as the charge was laid. Through the speedy progress of the case over the past two weeks, the reasons for the police’s apprehensiveness in arresting the young men was made clear.
Here’s a brief history, on November 4th a student from Jules High School in Jeppes town and laid a rape charge against two boys from her high school. She claimed that she had been drugged and raped by the boys and that it had been recorded. A few days later after further questioning of the three minors it was revealed that the young woman in question was not raped, she had admitted that the sex had been consensual. Working from this information, the National Prosecution Authority deemed it fit to lay a charge of Statutory Rape against the three high school students. According to the a new law added in the Child Justice Act, if minors are caught in a sexual act they can be prosecuted as it is against the law.
The interesting part of this case is that the whole school has really been exposed for the various questionable acts. The teachers have been accused of either blaming the girl for the incident to being in possession of the recording of the incident which has made its rounds around the school. It has been reported that some students have decided to take advantage of the media hype and sell the recordings. This case has put the spotlight on so many issues. Firstly, whose responsibility is to supervise students? Has anyone questioned how this incident happened in broad daylight and all the teachers seemed to have done was blame the students? Secondly how is prosecuting minors going to help? Some would say that it would perhaps influence minors to not get involved in such incidents, but they have said the same thing about narcotics. Thirdly, has anyone heard from the parents of these three students?
What is typical in such cases is a lot of mudslinging from all corners, no one really trying to take responsibility for anything except for the three students who are experiencing the ramifications of their actions. On a lighter note however, it should be noted that NPA and police worked really quickly, in just over two weeks most of the facts have been revealed and the courts have been sensitive to the opinion of the public in reconsidering their prosecution of the Jules High School Three. At least something good came out of this case.