Ninnie’s Neurons Nursery School principal Janine Edward was allegedly threatened and blackmailed by a “disgruntled” former employee of the creche, her lawyer Daniel van Zyl claimed on Thursday. He claimed the former employee demanded money from Edward if she wanted to stop her from releasing the videos.
Van Zyl told TimesLive: “She contacted Mrs Edward, the principal, and notified her that she’s got some videos of other teachers assaulting the children in the school. She threatened and also blackmailed Mrs Edwards that she would send these videos. This happened approximately a year ago.”
However, this only angered South Africans further, with most saying the claims took nothing away from the abuse children suffered at the hands of those they trusted.
@Que_khutsoane wrote: “So what the attorney is saying is the former employee is to blame … Blackmailing or not, the evil deed happened and that’s all we concerned about at the moment,” while @SekanaMankge said: “So who cares whether it was blackmail or not? The issue is that kids were assaulted. For all we know, this could be a drop in an ocean.”
Police confirmed on Thursday that the 40-year old woman was arrested a week ago and appeared in the Oberholzer Court in Carletonville on March 28 on a charge of assaulting a minor.
She was released on bail and will appear again in May.
“With the court process having commenced and, given that the investigation is yet to be concluded, police are not at liberty to divulge any further detail or give further comment on this matter,” said the South African Police Service in a statement.
“Management of police have, however, condemned in the harshest terms possible, both the incident as well as the continued irresponsible circulation of the video clips on social media platforms.
“Meanwhile, the investigation of all crimes committed against children, women and other vulnerable groups, remains a priority for the South African Police Service. This case is, therefore, receiving priority attention to ensure that ultimately, justice is served.”
Gauteng MEC of education Panyaza Lesufi on Thursday initiated a hunt for the crèche employee after she was seen in a video repeatedly slapping a toddler, allegedly for vomiting.
Attempts to reach the suspected creche were unsuccessful.
In the video, a woman can be seen slapping the child while asking her why she vomited. She also forces the child to clean up the vomit as she continues with the slapping.
Lesufi said: “Disgusting! I couldn’t even finish watching it! Team @Steve_Mabona @EducationGP let’s hunt this creche! I am [on] standby to pounce, just get details.”
The video sparked the sharing of similar ones on social media showing the abuse suffered by toddlers at the hands of their caretakers. The woman in one of the other videos shared was allegedly the same as the one who repeatedly slapped the toddler for vomiting.