Johannesburg - “If they touch my girl again, I will have to act myself because nobody is willing to help me. I have no choice but to take the law into my own hands. I will kill them.”
These were the words of the mother of a seven-year-old girl who was allegedly gang-raped by three of her neighbours aged seven, eight and nine.
Because the children involved are all so young, police have refused to open a case.
Thato* lives in a tiny shack in Alexandra. Since her alleged rape two weeks ago, her brothers watch her constantly, refusing to let her out of their sight. The family is terrified the trio of boys will repeat the alleged assault.
The boys have also allegedly raped other little girls in the houses around them.
Thato’s mother said she lifted up her daughter on a Saturday morning and the little girl started urinating.
“I asked her why she was doing that and she started crying. Then I saw she was bleeding,” her mother said on Sunday.
She struggled to get her daughter to tell her what was wrong, but eventually the child told her.
Thato’s mother said the boys are known as bullies and they also hit other children.
Thato said the boys had called her to a communal toilet on a Friday afternoon.
“They told her to come and see something. When she went, they closed the door, took her clothes off and raped her.
“They told her afterwards that if she told me, they would kill her,” the mother said.
The mother took her daughter to the police and they took her to a Hillbrow clinic.
The mother said a doctor had told her the child had cuts on her vagina and had an infection, but said there was no proof of penetration.
“I don’t know if he took into account the boys were children and not adult men,” she said.
“I asked how it was possible for my daughter to get an infection.”
Police allegedly refused to open a case because the boys were minors.
The family then attempted to speak to the boys’ parents.
“One mother said she doesn’t play with the children, so she does not know what they do. She said children will be children and refused to admit her son had done anything wrong.
“Another boy’s father admitted it’s not the first time his son has done this,” the mother said.
The family heard that the boys had allegedly attacked two other girls, who had fought them off.
At first, Thato was too terrified to go to the toilet and a bucket had to be brought into the shack.
The mother and daughter have been going for counselling at the Teddy Bear Clinic and have been coping better.
Childline spokeswoman Lynne Cawood said the police have to approach the Department of Social Development and request a probation officer to evaluate the boys to decide the degree of “criminal mindset”.
Cawood said the assault on Thato is viewed as a criminal act and police should not sidestep their responsibility.
The 24-hour number for Childline is 0800 055 555.
* Not her real name.