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Sex video shame led Jules High pupil to kill herself

08 March 2015 - 02:00 By AARTI J NARSEE

Humiliated in public, shunned by her friends and hounded by the media, the girl at the centre of the so-called Jules High sex video took her life last year.

Christina Fokona, 19, overdosed on her mother's medication for high blood pressure.

Her crime? Having sex with two boys. The act on the school grounds was captured on video, which went viral in 2010. She was 15 at the time.

Christina's two sex partners, then aged 14 and 16, were initially charged with rape. Then she admitted that the sex was consensual.

All three were charged with "consensual sexual penetration" under the 2007 Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act, which made consensual sexual acts between children aged 12 and 15 a crime. The charges were later dropped after the teenagers joined a diversion programme.

But for Christina, who has been named for the first time as the girl in the video, the trauma of the incident and the criminal case was too much to bear.

The story of her shame and guilt formed part of a submission this week by the Teddy Bear Clinic for Abused Children to parliament's portfolio committee on justice and correctional services.

The organisation is one of several trying to decriminalise consensual sexual acts between children aged 12 to 15. They argue that it causes the children unnecessary trauma.

The view is controversial and the organisations have been labelled "agents of Satan" by some faith-based bodies.

Christina's sister, Bridgette Nzama, 32, said this week that her family thought she was fine - until she committed suicide.

Christina would have been in matric this year and had dreams of becoming a photographer.

Her mother, Mandisa, was the last person to see her alive; the girl had called for her "mommy" after taking the medication at home. She left no suicide note.

The last SMS Christina sent to her sister was: "Thank you my sister for everything you have done for me."

Nzama had supported her sister during the court case, which was "very stressful".

"I ended up leaving my job so that I could go to court with her and support her . There were journalists everywhere and she didn't want to talk," she said.

After the video scandal, Christina moved to two different schools because children made fun of her.

"She didn't want to go outside or go anywhere," Nzama said.


Dr Shaheda Omar of the Teddy Bear Clinic told the committee that there were damaging consequences when children were exposed to the criminal justice system.

"Public exposure and humiliation is a real risk" when children were exposed to the criminal justice system, as was highlighted in the Jules High School case, she said.

Omar said Christina, who came to the Teddy Bear Clinic, had been "racked with guilt, shame, self-blame and stigma".

The committee's hearings are testing the waters on the proposed amendments to the act under which Christina and the boys were charged.

The Constitutional Court, in two landmark judgments, struck down two sections of the 2007 act and ordered parliament to change it.

The proposed changes to the law state that consensual sex between children older than 12 and younger than 16 will no longer be a crime unless there is an age gap of more than two years between the sex partners.

The Justice Alliance of South Africa called for parents, guardians and teachers to be punished if they permit children under 14 to engage in sex.

Others want the age of consent for sex to be raised to 18.

Meanwhile, Christina's family are still battling to come to terms with her death. "Every time when I go to sleep, I still see her. She loved modelling in front of the mirror. She also loved to take pictures with her phone whenever she saw a house she liked," Nzama said.

"She always told my mom: 'When I finish my matric, I am going to get a good job so I can buy you a house and a car.'"

Sex doc scoffs at moves to stop raunchy teens

Debates around teenagers having sex are misleading and misguided, says sexologist Dr Marlene Wasserman, known as Dr Eve.

Several organisations told parliament's justice portfolio committee this week that teens having sex was "unhealthy".

"God's design is that sex should be enjoyed within the boundaries of biblical marriage," Pastor Albert Wiggins said.

But Wasserman said: "If we just cut [sex] off, then we are being naive, as at that age they are being playful. As a young person you don't have impulse control but get very excited about experimenting."

She said parents needed to play a role in sexual education. "Parents have to talk about values and behaviour, and that's how you do sexual education, not just handing them a condom," she said.