A six-week-old baby is fighting for her life after being raped – allegedly by her mother’s brother.
In one of the most horrifying instances of child rape ever reported, the infant, born on October 17, is in intensive care after being brought to Kimberley Hospital around 2am on Wednesday.
She underwent extensive emergency surgery to repair the injuries sustained in the ordeal.
According to a relative, who cannot be identified as it would identify the baby, the child’s 22-year-old unmarried mother had put the infant down to sleep in the bedroom of their Galeshewe home and was sitting in the lounge with the child’s grandmother watching television.
The relative said that after a short while, the mother heard the baby cry and went to check on her. When she entered the bedroom, she saw that the child was missing and that the bedroom curtain had been removed.
Screaming that her child had been abducted, she ran to the relative’s house.
The frantic grandmother, meanwhile, heard the infant’s cries coming from a shack in the family’s backyard. When she forced open the door, her 24-year-old son pushed her out of the way and ran out – zipping up his pants.
According to the relative, she and several other neighbours heard the screams of the grandmother and rushed to the shack.
“When I got there, the baby was lying naked on the bed and there was a lot of blood. She was crying,” said the relative.
She wrapped the naked infant in a blanket and the child was taken to hospital.
Local residents apparently hunted down the man and caught him a few blocks from the house.
It is alleged that he had lifted the baby out of the bedroom through the window.
On Wednesday, the bedroom, which had been turned upside down, presumably by the police’s forensic experts, showed signs of the life shared by the mother and her infant child – a baby’s bottle and a small toy dog.
A glass pane in the window of the bedroom was broken and the window was open.
After apprehending the suspect, angry residents threatened to kill the man, but they were stopped by the grandmother, who pleaded for his life.
According to her, he was mentally unstable. The suspect was apparently involved in an altercation with the police a week ago and was shot twice during the incident.
He allegedly tried to stab a police officer while resisting arrest.
He was admitted to hospital after the incident, but then ran away.
After the rape, the suspect claimed that the blood on his T-shirt was as a result of the altercation with the police.
The mother of the baby, who was keeping vigil at the child’s hospital bed on Wednesday, was too traumatised to speak.
The baby is the mother’s second child – her firstborn died two days after birth.
Department of Health spokeswoman Lulu Mxekezo confirmed that a six-week-old baby was admitted to Kimberley Hospital.
“She was examined and taken to theatre. She is currently in the ICU in a critical but stable condition,” Mxekezo said.
The suspect was expected to appear in court on Thursday.
National police commissioner General Riah Phiyega was also expected to meet the baby’s family on Thursday.
The visit is part of the 16 Days of Activism campaign. Phiyega was also due to visit the family of the 87-year-old woman who was raped and murdered in her house in Galeshewe on Sunday.
On Wednesday night, the baby rape was met with outrage.
Social worker Dr Amelia Kleijn said: “These men, they are products of our society, they are not born like that. This act has nothing to do with sex. It’s about revenge, it’s about revenge against the world.”
Kleijn said men who rape young children are usually the product of childhood abuse so horrific, it had removed their ability to show empathy. They got progressively more angry with the world as they grew into adulthood, and the tipping point that pushed them over into raping a child could be something small. She did her doctorate on men who were serving long sentences for raping children under the age of three.
Katherine Robinson, the communications manager of the NGO Gender Links, said we should be careful about creating a hierarchy of age, as the rape of any person was unacceptable.
Bafana Khumalo, the senior programmes specialist at Sonke Gender Justice, said: “Our view is we need to scale up programmes that are targeting men on behaviour change. We are not doing enough in these matters.” - Additional reporting by Theresa Taylor
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