Women, Children and People with Disabilities Minister Lulu Xingwana

Johannesburg - Women, Children and People with Disabilities Minister Lulu Xingwana on Tuesday called for a maximum sentence if the Brakpan man accused of raping and killing his four-year-old niece was found guilty.

Xingwana had been scheduled to attend the man's bail application at the Brakpan Magistrate's Court, but ran late.

Speaking to the media on her behalf, her spokesman Motalatale Modiba said they supported the National Director of Public Prosecutions' (NDPP) call for the 23-year-old man to be handed a life sentence if he was found guilty.

Xingwana was concerned that just days into the new year, several acts of violence against women and children had been reported.

In a statement, she said she noted the case of the two-year-old girl fighting for her life at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital after suffering severe injuries. Her 20-year-old mother and 36-year-old boyfriend appeared in the Pretoria North Magistrate's Court on Monday accused of attempted murder.

A newborn baby and its mother are in hospital in East London after the women's boyfriend allegedly stabbed her in the stomach while she was still pregnant. The baby was delivered and was in a critical but stable condition.

In Limpopo last week, two girls were shot dead, allegedly by their father.

“There is something fundamentally wrong with our foundation as a society when women and children are made to live in terror even in their own homes,” Xingwana said.

“Domestic violence is a social evil that must be uprooted from our communities.”

The man implicated in the Brakpan girl's murder appeared briefly in court on Tuesday. His bail application was postponed to January 13 so he could apply for legal aid.

NDPP spokesman Mxolisi Nxasana said they were confident of their case against the accused.

“It's a watertight case and we are certain that we will make a conviction.” - Sapa