Three years on, Ipoh mum seeks court intervention to resolve tahfiz sexual abuse case

Celebrity religious speaker Datuk Mohammad Kazim Elias addresses the crowd at the BN-organised ceramah in Permatang Pauh, Penang, May 4, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi
Celebrity religious speaker Datuk Mohammad Kazim Elias addresses the crowd at the BN-organised ceramah in Permatang Pauh, Penang, May 4, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 7 — For the last three years, a mother has waited in vain for the police to conclude their investigation into the alleged sexual abuse of her son in a tahfiz school, then owned by celebrity preacher Datuk Kazim Elias.

Today, a magistrate’s court in Ipoh will finally hear her complaint; should it decide in her favour and recognise that an offence did take place, the court will serve a notice to the public prosecutor to direct the police to investigate the offence.

“For the past three years, the mother has exhausted all avenues possible and available,” the family’s lawyer Asiah Abd Jalil told Malay Mail.

“So as a last resort, we think that Section 128 is our last chance to initiate a proceeding in criminal court.”

Under Section 128 of the Criminal Procedure Code, a magistrate may take cognisance of an offence, among others upon receiving a complaint or upon his own knowledge or suspicion that an offence has been committed.

Three years — nothing, and everything, has changed

In August 2016, the mother lodged two police reports alleging that her son, then nine years old, was consistently sexually abused along with other students by their seniors over a period of five months in Maahad Tahfiz al Barakah in Manjoi.

The police reports were lodged after the boy was allegedly beaten up by the senior students, when the latter found out that he had complained to the school’s management.

The police subsequently announced that an investigation under Section 377E of the Penal Code that handles “inciting a child to an act of gross indecency” was already completed, barely two weeks after the reports were lodged.

The family claimed the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) in Putrajaya had repeatedly returned the investigation papers to the Perak police, as their investigations were incomplete.

The case received the attention of former TV celebrity Wardina Safiyyah and social activist Syed Azmi Alhabshi, who highlighted the case on social media in November 2016.

In response, Kazim demanded the mother apologise for the allegation or face a RM8 million lawsuit for libel.

His lawyers claim the allegation was intended to “affect the reputation and also the client’s reputable track record”, including his religious reputation.

The lawyers also sent similar letters of demand to Wardina and Syed Azmi.

Despite that, Kazim did not proceed with the suit after the trio remained unapologetic over their statements.

In December that year, the police informed the mother that there would be no further action over the case.

Despite providing additional documents and evidence to support her claim, the mother was again told in May 2018 that no further action would be taken, citing lack of witnesses and concrete evidence to support the allegation.

Last resort to heal trauma

In the space of three years, the mother tried to bring the case to the attention of several people including then Perak police chief Datuk Hasnan Hassan, chief of the AGC’s Sexual Crimes and Domestic Violence Unit Nurulhuda Nur’aini Mohd Nor, and the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission — all to no avail.

Kazim no longer owns the tahfiz school, claiming that due to the decrease in speaking appointments, it had become difficult for him to manage the school which he claimed required RM150,000 a month to fund.

Kazim has transferred the school’s management to the Al-Uliya Education Centre since September 2018.

Meanwhile, the child in question is still undergoing psychiatric therapy to overcome his trauma. It is understood that his therapy is only scheduled to conclude in 2021.

The complaint today under the aforementioned Section 377E and Section 14(a) of the more recent Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017 that handles physical sexual assault on a child will likely be last recourse for the family to obtain justice.

“If this also fails, the mother has no other choice, except for civil suit under the tort of sexual harassment,” Asiah explained.

According to her, a civil suit would instead burden the family with its exorbitant cost.

“The victim’s aim is to punish the offenders, not to gain monetary compensation,” she added.

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