Cape Town - Children are easy targets for criminals, as the toll of young victims continues to rise. The appearance in court on Tuesday of a man accused of raping and setting alight a 9-year-old girl in Delft on Saturday night has placed the problem firmly back in focus.
But there are other serious cases of attacks on children – some where the victim has been killed.
In one shocking case, a father has been accused of burying alive his 14-month-old son. The father, Zolani Malanga, was to have appeared in court this week for a bail application but the hearing was postponed.
Malanga is accused of burying his son Zondre inside his shack in Botterboom, Delft South, on January 8. The child suffocated.
Also on Saturday night, a woman reported catching a man in the act of raping her 7-year-old mentally challenged daughter.
According to a report in Die Son, the woman found the man in her house with the child after returning from a shop. His pants zip was undone. When she challenged him, the man ran away, the mother said.
Police liaison officer Captain FC van Wyk confirmed the case.
“A rape case was reported on Saturday, January 18. The suspect is on the run and we are still tracing him. The child is receiving counselling at Ceres Hospital and the investigation continues.”
Then there were the shootings.
A 16-year-old boy was shot and later found dead in bush alongside Stellenbosch Arterial Road in Delft.
On Monday at 8am, Belhar resident Glen Miller, 47, contacted the police to report that 16-year-old Martin Raubenheimer had gone missing.
Martin and a friend were walking on Sunday when they were chased by armed gangsters. The friend, who managed to escape, said he had heard gunshots.
Later on Monday, members of the community found Martin’s body partly hidden in bushes.
Miller told the police it was reported to him that the two boys were going through an overgrown area on their way back from N2 Gateway when they were accosted by two men. They fled in different directions and as they ran, shots were fired.
Police and family searched the bush but could not find the missing boy. A police helicopter was called in but because the area is so dense, the search was called off hours later.
On Monday at 2pm, the family found Martin ’s body with gunshot wounds to the back, head and neck.
A murder case was opened.
“The matter is being investigated, but the motive is unclear and no suspects have been identified yet,” Van Wyk said.
Van Wyk referred to a case in which the 29-year-old mother of a boy aged between 1 and 2 years was arrested on charges of child neglect.
“The arrest follows after the body of the child was found in a shack after it caught fire,” Van Wyk said.
“It is believed the mother was not at her home when the child died on Sunday evening at Riemvasmaak, Phumlani Village, in Grassy Park.
“The cause of the fire which led to the death of the child is being investigated. The mother is still in custody.”
Van Wyk said crimes against children were a priority for the Western Cape police and they would not allow criminals to walk free.