Gingindlovu residents are walking their children to and from school and asking them to be extra-vigilant after an eight-year-old girl was dragged into a sugarcane field by a 15-year-old schoolboy who raped and strangled her, bit her neck and tried to gouge out her eyes.
The child, who cannot be identified, was still in the Ngwelezane Hospital in Empangeni on Wednesday night after undergoing an emergency operation. Her right eye was heavily bandaged and still swollen. Doctors said that she would make a full recovery.
The child had been on her way home from school on Monday with the teenager, who attended the same school as her, when he pounced on her.
Bleeding profusely and in a state of shock, the Grade 2 pupil managed to drag herself to her home nearby, where she collapsed in front of her grandmother.
Speaking at the family’s home on Wednesday, the child’s grandmother could barely contain herself as she described the ordeal.
She said that her granddaughter had finished school at 2pm and would normally have been home at 2.30pm.
“When she did not return by 4pm, I became worried. As I got out of the house to go and search for her, she collapsed right in front of me,” she said.
“She was injured seriously, her eyes were bleeding and she was dirty.”
The grandmother said that the child could barely speak as she cried out, “gogo, gogo”. She had then asked the girl what had happened and could not believe how “brutal” the teenager had been.
“I trusted the boy because he went to school with my granddaughter and they went to Sunday school together,” she said, adding that she was devastated by what had happened. “My granddaughter told me that he dragged her into the sugarcane field and she told him to stop, but he continued… She cried out but nobody could hear her. When he was done raping her, he tried to gouge out her eyes, bit her on the neck and then strangled her, leaving her helpless.”
The grandmother said that she had carried the girl and laid her on a couch.
“She was in a critical condition and I thought she would die,” she said.
A relative arrived and took the child to Ngwelezane Hospital in Empangeni.
Police spokesman Colonel Jay Naicker said that a teenager had been arrested and appeared in court in Gingindlovu on Wednesday.
“The suspect claimed that he was possessed by a demon as he heard voices that prompted him to carry out the attack,” he said.
The investigating officer was following up on an unconfirmed report that the suspect, who is in Grade 6, had earlier in the day attacked another pupil at school.
The suspect is in custody. The school’s principal and teachers declined to comment.
The attack has shocked the local community and many parents were now escorting their children to and from school.
Resident Khulekani Mthimkhulu said that he had accompanied his 10-year-old daughter to school every morning since the attack.
“I have warned my child to be vigilant and walk with girls in groups when coming home. I told her to come straight home after school because I fear for her safety,” he said.
Another resident, Mandlenkosi Shoba, said that the community was shocked and wanted justice to be done.
“I knew the boy well. Parents are really afraid,” he said.
Other residents said that rape had been a “huge problem” in the area, but the latest incident was “inhumane”.
On Wednesday, neighbours and friends gathered at the home of the girl, offering comfort and support. - The Mercury