A 6-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 at about 2am on Wednesday.

She underwent extensive emergency surgery to repair the injuries suffered 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 baby down to sleep in the bedroom of their Galeshewe home and was 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.

Residents apparently hunted down the man and caught him a few blocks from the house.

It is alleged that he had removed the baby from 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 baby – a baby’s bottle and a small toy dog.

A glass pane in the bedroom window 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 later ran away.

After the rape, the suspect claimed that the blood on his T-shirt was as a result of the altercation with police.

The mother of the baby, who was keeping vigil at the child’s hospital bed on Wednesday, was too traumatised to speak.

Department of Health spokeswoman, Lulu Mxekezo, confirmed that a 6-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.