/ 30 November 2013

Zuma on child rape: ‘Something is seriously wrong’

VIDEO M&G's Rapule Tabane analyses President Zuma's victory at Mangaung
VIDEO M&G's Rapule Tabane analyses President Zuma's victory at Mangaung

President Jacob Zuma expressed shock on Friday at the recent sexual attacks on young children and babies.

"It is inexplicable and devastating in the extreme," he said in a speech prepared for delivery at the launch of the Kalagadi Manganese company's Stanley Nkosi sinter mine.

"Something is seriously wrong, and it is good that society has not lost its sense of shock," he said.

A six-week-old baby was raped in Galeshewe, Kimberley, on Tuesday, allegedly by a 24-year-old man believed to be her uncle.

On Monday, a 17-year-old teenage boy was arrested for the rape of a four-year-old boy in Itsoseng near Lichtenburg, North West.

The teenager grabbed the boy while he was playing last Thursday and raped him in full view of his friends, Sergeant Kelebogile Moiloa said at the time.

He then dragged the child into a dilapidated community hall where he continued to rape him, Moiloa said.

'Continue raising awareness'
The 17-year-old was also accused of raping a 72-year-old woman in Itsoseng in 2011.

Last Wednesday, a 10-year-old pupil from Mapetla, Soweto was raped by his 44-year-old teacher.

The pupil was staying after school as punishment for damaging a school textbook when he was raped by the teacher in a classroom.

"Such incidents must not make us numb. We need to continue raising awareness so that communities can expose perpetrators and eliminate these serious crimes," Zuma said.

He said the perpetrators belonged in jail and he urged communities to help the police.

On Thursday, Women, Children and People with Disabilities Minister Lulu Xingwana said the "monstrous atrocities" appalled her.

"These acts can only be committed by very sick people," she said, with reference particularly to the attacks on the infant and four-year-old.

Harsher sentences
The government would ensure people accused of rape were not given bail and received harsher sentences.

"These crimes will under no circumstances be tolerated and [are] totally unacceptable," she said.

Gender-based violence had reached crisis proportions, despite efforts to raise awareness about violence against women and children, the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) said on Friday.

"This year alone, the country was in shock at the harrowing rape and murder of Anene Booysen, the death of Reeva Steenkamp, the rape and murder of Duduzile Zozo, the rape and murder of the Diepsloot toddlers [Yonelisa Mali, two, and her three-year-old cousin Zandile] and now we are hit with yet another blow as a result of the rape of a six-week-old toddler," CGE chairperson Mfanozelwe Shozi said.

He applauded the police for their swift response in arresting the baby's uncle.

Shozi called for renewed attempts to find interventions to stop this kind of violence.

Society is failing itself
The rape of the baby had come during the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children – a campaign aimed at raising awareness of the scourge of gender-based violence, he said.

The South African Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) said society was failing itself.

"A society can only be judged by its ability to take care of its most vulnerable. As things stand, ours is failing dismally," said Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke.

"This is a serious indictment on all of us …. We want to say: Enough is enough."

Maluleke urged communities to take personal responsibility for the protection of the vulnerable in society. – Sapa