Alleged sex offenders prey on school kids in Dar

They face a heart-wrenching dilemma of whether to send their kids to school and put them at the mercy of alleged sex offenders or keep them safe at home and risk legal action from the government for denying their children compulsory primary education.

Some of the parents told The Guardian on Sunday that they have opted to keep their kids at home, come what may, as the police are engaged in a futile manhunt for an alleged gang of rapists who prey on school kids as young as six years old.

They said the gang involving both adults and schoolboys at the schools of the victims operates quietly with devastating consequences.

The elder gang leaders are alleged to be using young male school kids to lure fellow shoolmates to hideouts where they are sexually assaulted.

According to residents of the Kitunda and Mzinga wards, there have already been several cases of sexual assault on young school girls at the areas.

The latest incident involves a Standard Two pupil (name withheld) of Kitunda Primary School who was sexually assaulted on her way home from school.

She was given a car lift by a man she thought was a Good Samaritan, but little did she know that he would drug her and sexually assault her.

“They used to take me to unfinished buildings and forced me to have sex ... they said it was a normal thing and that even my parents do it,” the young schoolgirl narrated.

Asked why she did not initially tell her parents and teachers of the ordeal, she said: “They threatened to kill us if we tell other people about it.”

The girl said this implying she was not the only victim in the ordeal, and that it was a norm among her school peers.

The pupil, a resident of Mzinga who is currently suffering medical complications from defilement said she had also been sexually abused by two elder schoolmates.

She narrated an incident when she and the boys were given a car lift by the boys’ 'uncle' only to find herself sexually assaulted by a gang.

“It was painful, but I could not scream because the 'uncle' said he would kill me if I did and that he would give me Sh500 later,” she said.

“But he bought me sweets, biscuits and juice at the super market the following day.”
In another incident, the same man gave her sweets that were spiked with drugs and was later sexually assaulted.

“I later woke up and found mysely under a tree,” she said.
Her mother, a vegetable and textiles vendor did not at once notice the changes in her child until she skipped school for three consecutive days, until “her sister told me she had been crying each time she went to the washroom.”

“I noticed a bad smell coming from her when I woke her up that day ... and when I took a look, I found out that she had bad injuries in her private parts,” she said.

“I immediately took her to the police station and then to Kitunda dispensary and later to Amana Referral Hospital in Ilala where medical reports revealed that she was sexually assaulted,” said the mother.

The girl would later identify her assailants in identification parades in two schools in the area whose managements confirmed existence of such groups of sex offenders in their schools.

The assailants who introduce themselves to their victim with fake names, have denied any knowledge of the girl and they are currently out on bail after being questioned by the police.
The suspected “uncle” is also out on bail, although police sources said he has vehemently denied any involvement in the sexual assaults on minors.

But the young victim's mother complains against what she believes is an unnecessary delay in the police investigation process, citing doubts over if the case that was reported about three months ago would go to court.

Ilala Municipality Social Welfare officer Amandus Walter who handled the case, also complained against prolonged police investigations on sexual assault allegations.

A police officer at the Stakishari police station who requested anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media admitted to have received complaints on sexual assaults against scholkids from parents, but declined to give details.

However, he also admitted that there has been a spike of such incidents of sexual assaults on schoolkids in recent months.Mzinga ward executive officer Gerald Sarota also said the situation in the area was becoming worse, having recorded quite a number of cases involving pupils in the area who have been sexually abused.The Tanzania Police Force headquarters was not immediately available for comment.