With her fertile effervescent mind and her scintillating personality, Thando was always seen as a genius; that person who had the brightest future amongst us all. She failed at nothing and passed with flying colours, for sure she was an “A” student. Everybody wished to be a brainiac like she was. No matter how hard we studied, she always shined above us; she was a natural.

Thando was every teacher’s darling; they trusted and believed in her.

It was on a Tuesday afternoon. Everybody was in sports attire and no one was left in the school area. A few teachers who did not participate in any sporting activity were around, and Mr Mchunu was amongst them. He called for Thando. And with no hesitation she quickly ran to his office. We waited for her to return, but she never showed up.

When we entered the dormitory, we found her huddled in a corner, tears oozing from her eyes. She was crying bitterly her eyes were cold and malevolent. I knew something was wrong and rushed out to call the matron.

When she stood up, her shorts had blood stains and she couldn’t walk. We helped her to her bed, and then were ordered to go out. Thando was left with the matron. She narrated everything to her.

After a few hours there was a meeting. All the teachers were summoned to the staff room. Soon after, we heard wailings of police siren. They came and took Mr Mchunu with them. We later heard he had raped Thando.

Her bubbly character died; she wasn’t the same anymore. Her innocence was taken away from her, and replaced with a sexually transmitted disease. Her dreams were shattered; she never saw the purpose of living. Her heart was in shambles. She had always said, ‘Failure was not her style’, and here she was, failing. Because something we treasure as girls was taken away from her…

Tell us: If you were in charge, what punishment would you give to all those who commit this crime?