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President Jacob Zuma called on Thursday for the harshest possible sentence for the men who gang-raped and mutilated a Southern Cape teenage girl who later died of her injuries.

“Impose the harshest sentences on such crimes, as part of a concerted campaign to end this scourge in our society,” said Zuma in a statement.

Anine Booysen, 17, was found by security guards at a construction site in Bredasdorp at the weekend.

She was gang-raped and mutilated, and later died of her injuries in hospital.

Zuma described the crime as shocking, cruel, and inhumane.

“It has no place in our country. We must never allow ourselves to get used to these acts of base criminality to our women and children.”

Booysen reportedly identified her attackers before she died at Tygerberg Hospital on Saturday evening.

Her 22-year-old ex-boyfriend was arrested in connection with the crime.

He appeared in the Bredasdorp Magistrate's Court on Tuesday on charges of rape and murder. He will appear again on February 12.

A second man, aged 21, was arrested in Bredasdorp on Wednesday night.

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) said it was satisfied with the progress police had made so far.

“The arrest of two men in connection with this vicious crime should serve as a lesson to rapists and murderers whose aim is to infect our societies with despicable evil,” said Popcru spokeswoman Theto Mahlakoana.

The union called on society to stand up against crime and share any information related to the incident with police.

Various other organisations and unions also condemned the crime.

The Congress of the People (Cope) said the brutality of the Booysen attack, allegedly committed by those she knew, was not only shocking but an act of depravity.

“Cope is horrified South Africa has unfortunately and regrettably become the rape capital of the world,” said Cope MP Beryl Ferguson.

She said this also proved that the department of women, children and people with disabilities, police, and communities had failed to curb this crime.

“It is also deeply disturbing that neither of the departments seems to have any clue nor even a workable programme to ensure that women in South Africa are protected from rape,” she said.

Government expressed shock and outrage at the crime.

“They must face the full wrath of the law... those who molest and abuse children have no place in a democratic South Africa,” said Government Communication and Information System acting CEO Phumla Williams. - Sapa