A man accused of brutally raping his eight-year-old stepdaughter was attacked by angry residents after the girl’s mother raised the alarm.
The incident, which happened in BM informal settlement in Khayelitsha, around 7pm, on Saturday June 11, has been widely condemned, with organisations which work with child victims saying that cases like this one, keep them “too busy”.
It is alleged that the wife of the 40-year-old man found her husband “half naked” when she returned from work on Saturday evening. Her child too, was not fully clothed. In shock and unsure of what was happening, the woman reportedly screamed for help for people from the community to intervene. The man, who has since
been arrested and is under police guard at Tygerberg Hospital, was then severely assaulted by the community after it emerged that he had allegedly raped the child. He was rescued by the police.
Police spokeswoman Sergeant Phakama Bosman said the child was taken to hospital for a medical examination which confirmed she had been raped and police have reason to believe this was not the first time.
Sergeant Bosman said the investigation into the incident was continuing. “The accused will remain in hospital until the doctor says he is fit and ready to go to court. He will then be brought to the station and be formally charged,” she said.
Sergeant Bosman said the incident was not isolated and was of great concern to the police and the community at large, particularly those living in the informal settlements.
Site B Community Police Forum (CPF) chairperson Nomawethu Mosala condemned the incident, saying that it had happened as they were preparing to conduct talks and an awareness campaign with the community to talk about such issues.
Ms Mosala said they planned to have the talks in areas such as France, Green Point and BM section, which they considered to be “problematic areas”.
“What happened here is horrible,” she said, saying the mother had done the right thing by raising the alarm. “Most incidents are not reported,” she said. “Children often open up to their teachers at school or to social workers.”
Ms Mosala said living conditions often played a major role in incidents such as these, but cautioned the community against acts of vigilantism.
“What is important is for the criminals to be arrested and not to be assaulted,” she said.
“As the CPF we strongly condemn both incidents. I personally phoned the police to come and rescue the accused, because we would like the law to take its course.”
Social worker at Nonceba Counselling Centre, Nozuko Conjwa, called on the community to stand against child abuse.
She said they had noticed changing trends, and that the number of cases they dealt with were increasing. “We used to have both boys and girls coming to us, but now we are only seeing a lot of girls,” she said.
“What is more disturbing is that the perpetrators are people who are known to the victim. It is either a neighbour or someone who knows someone in the area.”
The centre, which offers support and counselling to rape victims younger than 12 years old, is working with 24 primary schools around Khayelitsha, conducting workshops and awareness campaigns among pupils around issues of abuse.
Ms Conjwa said they were concerned about incidents that were not reported and cases where children had been repeatedly raped before their parents came to know of the abuse.
She said the figures were “alarmingly high”. “We appeal to parents to always listen to the little things that their children say to them because you might pick up something from the conversation. It is important for parents to always have that child-friendly conversation with their children,” she said.
She also cautioned against writing children’s details on school bags, as predators could use this information and pretend to know the children.
“We can only win this battle when all the stakeholders come together and by going back to the basics of ubuntu where your child is my child, and I am allowed to discipline your child,” she said.
Nomalinge Madikane from the Mosaic Centre said they encounter many incidents of rape, which they refer to places such as the Thuthuzela Centre and Nonceba Counselling Centre where victims are given holistic assistance. “There are many such incidents, especially in BM section.
She said victims are as young as two in certain cases. “These cases keep us too busy,” she said.