‘Slap on wrist’ for Hilton boys

Pietermaritzburg - The Hilton College pupils who posted an offensive picture on social media last month will have to make a face-to-face apology to the girls at St Anne’s Diocesan College, their victims.

The boys involved will not be expelled, but in addition to the apology, face an internal suspension, the issuing of a final warning and performing community service at an “appropriate” institution.

This is according to a letter sent to parents by Hilton College headmaster Peter Ducasse.

The offending picture was posted by a Hilton College matric pupil on his private Instagram account last month and shows four Hilton boys in uniform enacting the gang rape of a school “girl” — in reality another Hilton pupil clad in a blue St Anne’s uniform.

The picture went viral and caused a widespread uproar on social media.

According to the headmaster’s letter, which was sent last week, even though “there is no doubt that what the boys did was entirely unacceptable and in poor taste”, they are “18-year-old boys who, like most boys of their age, are grappling with all sorts of confusing messages”.

Ducasse said in the letter that it was the school’s responsibility not only to punish the erring pupils, but also to “continually educate them”, and the rest of the boys at the school, about appropriate behaviour, and, in particular, respectful behaviour towards women.

“I regard the boys’ actions as very serious. However, I am convinced that expelling them would not solve the problem,” Ducasse wrote.

“These boys have already had to endure a most traumatic time whilst suspended from school and it is now our responsibility to help them to grow and learn from this experience,” he said.

A similar sentiment was shared on the school’s website in a newsletter dated October 26.

In the newsletter, also signed by Ducasse, he said the school would also invite prominent speakers to address their pupils on gender issues and the dangers of social media.

A fuming woman, whose daughter is a matriculant at St Anne’s, said the punishment was a “mere slap on the wrist”.

“Eighteen-year-olds are well aware of their actions and the message in the photo is clear,” the mother said.