TEACHERS at Siyangaya Primary School in Tsholotsho, last week fled from the institution claiming a mysterious baboon sexually abuses them at night, a district education director confirmed yesterday.
Sources at the school who cannot be named for professional reasons said female members of staff would wake up without their underwear or with signs that they had sex overnight.
"One of the teachers said she woke up towards midnight on July 10 and saw a man with a baboon in her room. She said she screamed and the two disappeared through a wall" said a source.
A villager, Samson Ncube, 70, said other teachers rushed to her room and when they heard her story, they called for an emergency meeting with village elders.
Ncube said the meeting was held on Saturday July 11 and the teachers said they would not spend another night at the school. "They said they were being sexually abused by the baboon. Everyone's story came out with some saying they had been afraid to speak out because they weren't sure of what was going on," he said.
Lessons for the 439 pupils have been suspended as only the headmaster, Mandlenkosi Maqeda, and two male teachers have remained.
They said 10 female teachers fled after the baboon, suspected to be a goblin, had been terrorising them for a month.
Tsholotsho district education officer Kelvin Mathe said the matter was under investigation.
He, however, declined to give details and referred questions to the Matabeleland North provincial education director Boithatelo Mnguni.
"We got a report from the school about a troublesome baboon and we're still investigating," said Mathe.
Mnguni could not be reached for comment.
According to villagers, the baboon has been appearing at the school for the past one month and a number of meetings have been held at the school to try and bring a solution to the disturbances.
"The baboon has been appearing at the school since June and it has scared off female teachers. The teachers first saw strange foot prints at the school and called villagers, who were also not familiar with the prints.
"A few days later, one of the teachers saw the baboon outside a classroom while she was teaching. She rushed to call the other teachers but the baboon disappeared. We thought it was a petty issue until the female teachers started telling us that the baboon was sexually abusing them while they were sleeping," said the headman, Qhelile Mkhwananzi.
He said the community was yet to come up with a solution to the problem.
Villager Melitha Dube said it was a strange incident that had brought fear within the community.
"We've heard reports about the baboon for weeks now and we were called to a meeting after most of the female teachers abandoned the school. Unfortunately there was no clear solution to the problem. Some villagers have, however, suggested that we should hold prayers while we think of a solution," said Dube.
An elderly villager, Vusumuzi Sibanda, said he was shocked to see the baboon spoor as he had never seen one in the area before.
"This isn't an area for baboons. I was born here 72 years ago and I've never seen baboons here. I strongly suspect that this could be the works of witchcraft by some evil people and it calls for serious investigation," said Sibanda.
"The whole community has no idea how to solve this problem because it's something strange to us. It's unfortunate that some teachers have decided to abandon the pupils and they're missing their lessons."