“The exclusion is not an apology; there is nothing to apologise for. We have checked the samples and there is no evidence that suggests any learner was affected by it,” department spokesman Elijah Mhlanga said.
“This should not be construed as an apology at all. The question was taken out to avoid any comebacks to the department,” he said.
Mhlanga was responding to Saturday Citizen after the department issued a statement yesterday on the decision to exclude the question from the marking process.
Pupils were asked to describe the brutal rape of nine-month-old baby Tshepang to maximise horror in an audience and the question caused an uproar of concern and anger across the country.
Baby Tshepang survived rape by her mother’s boyfriend about 11 years ago. Award-winning playwright Lara Foot developed a play about the baby’s story. However, she too criticised the exam question, saying the presentation of the question indicated a misinterpretation by those who set it.
One of the Mpumalanga pa-rents who lodged a formal complaint about the question, citing it as a form of breeding paedophiles, said its exclusion was not enough.
“They need to understand they mentally scarred the children and some of them are still traumatised and even embarrassed to say how they responded to the question,” he said.
A public apology, counselling for pupils and the dismissal of the officials who included the rape question, was warranted, he said.
However, the department said samples of the pupils’ exam scripts from across the country showed “no evidence to confirm that learners were adversely affected by the the question”.