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S.African teens accused of rape in racially-charged case

Four white high school boys appeared in court for allegedly raping a fellow student of mixed race, South African police said on Friday, in a case fraught with racial tensions.

The four teens aged 14 to 18, who also filmed the incident, are accused of sodomising the pupil with a broom stick at a boarding school in central South Africa on Sunday.

The “suspects went into the room of one of the learners at the hostel, instructed him to undress, tied his hands and feet with a belt and they molested him in a very sordid manner,” police spokeswoman Priscilla Naidu told AFP.

A local newspaper posted an edited version of the video on its Facebook page, but later took it down.

The gruesome attack, said to have been part of an “initiation” process for the new student at Northern Cape Agricultural High School, has provoked a racial debate.

“We have a suspicion that this might be a racially-motivated incident,” Sydney Stander, spokesman for the education department in the Northern Cape province, told AFP.

“New low for SA race relations,” tweeted Frans Cronje, CEO of the Institute of Race Relations. “Could have been filmed in a prison in Syria. That children did this – where are we headed?”

The school, which is based in the central farming town of Jan Kempdorp, specialises in teaching agricultural science.

The boys were freed on 1,000 rand ($87) bail each and are due back in court on March 5.

Two decades after the end of apartheid, South Africa is still struggling to mend its racial divisions.

Education and human rights authorities this week launched investigations into racism in private education after parents at a Pretoria junior school complained that black and white pupils had been placed in separate classes.