Cape Town - A man has been arrested after a 4-year-old Manenberg girl was abducted from her home and raped, police said.

“Manenberg police arrested a 46-year-old man on charges of kidnapping and rape following the disappearance of a 4-year-old girl on Wednesday. The missing girl was found at the residence of the suspect in Athlone and was admitted to hospital,” said police spokesman Andre Traut.

He said the man was due to appear in Athlone Magistrate’s Court. A close relative of the girl said she had allegedly been abducted from her parent’s backyard shack early on Wednesday and found hours later at a house in Athlone. She had since been placed in the care of social workers.

The girl’s parents declined to comment while another relative who said he led the search for her said she was found after getting information from members of the public. The names of the girl’s relatives are being withheld in order to protect her identity.

“We found (her) after a long search with some residents. We received information from the public and it led us to the suspect’s house. When we got there, the house was locked including the gate and we thought there was no way we were going to get in. By the grace of God, we manage to break through and went inside. We found her in a shocking and unconscious state. I quickly rushed her to the hospital,” the relative said on Thursday.

“While I was in hospital with her, I heard, residents had become upset and assaulted the suspect. He was later arrested. I had never seen that man before. I don’t know why he would do this to a child as young as four years.”

He said the family struggled to to deal with the trauma the incident had caused. “I have been informing other family members about this incident since it happened, but it has been a difficult thing to do. I have been trying to be strong for the sake of my children, who were shaken about this because it happened in our backyard,” he said.

Patric Solomons, director of children’s rights organisation Molo Songololo, was outraged by the incident.

“It has become a common thing for these kinds of attacks on children. It is time something gets done. These perpetrators need to be prosecuted and face the law for their actions,” he said.

“This child has now to live with this for the rest of her life. We are hoping she get full counselling and the support she needs to recover from the attack,” Solomons said.

Cape Times