A Paarl prosecutor wept on Wednesday as she listened to testimony about a Bulgarian orphan who was rescued from horrific circumstances in her home country years ago, brought to South Africa by a local couple and later raped here by two boys.

State prosecutor Rialda Jacobs struggled to hold back tears as the girl’s foster mother told the court of the rape and prior events.

The two boys had pleaded guilty to rape.

A local couple had found her on the brink of death in a home for disabled orphans in Bulgaria in 1998 and brought her to South Africa for treatment. She was seven years old and weighed about 7kg. Nurses at the home said she had brain damage and was going to die.

However, doctors who treated the girl found no sign of brain damage and diagnosed her as extremely neglected and malnourished. According to her foster parents who were shocked by the horrific state of children in the orphanage, it was closed down by the Bulgarian government in 2001.

The couple said they had been touched by the girl who was bedridden when they found her.

They had prayed hard for her survival. However, as she was reaching normality, the unthinkable happened - she was raped. Her foster mother on Wednesday told the court about the rape, which happened while they were on holiday in the Pine Forest Resort in Ceres in 2009.

She said the girl was at the swimming pool with her foster father and the couple’s daughter.

She left to play in a nearby park, but when the mother and her daughter went to join her they could not find her.

A search was launched but only her shoes and a backpack were found. The mother searched the squash courts and found a boy who ran away.

She followed the boy and heard her little girl screaming.

“She was crying and pleading that they would stop and not try again, because this is not good. She did not want me to touch her, she just said: ‘awful, very bad’, tears running down her cheeks,” said the mother.

She took the girl home.

“She still did not want to speak or be touched. I then asked her if I could lie next to her and then we can cry together. By then I saw all the blood and realised she was raped. We cried together,” said the distraught mother.

Prosecutor Jacobs could not control her emotions and wept at the testimony.

Shocking photographs showing the girl lying in bed with hardly any flesh on her bones were among those submitted in court yesterday.

Two schoolboys, aged 15 and 17, were in the dock waiting to be sentenced. Their grief-stricken parents sat behind them.

The boys had pleaded guilty to raping the girl and on Wednesday their attorneys asked for forgiveness on their behalf.

However, magistrate Nomawethu Smile gave the schoolboys a stern warning.

“You are facing long-term imprisonment,” said Smile.

In the meantime, she ordered the boys to put their apologies in writing without help from their parents.

“This is your homework - write letters about what you feel (in connection with the rape). I want to see how genuine your apologies are and not when you are hounded by your parents.

“You are children and you should not be standing (in court). You should be learning about respecting women,” said Smile.

The case was postponed until March 22. - Cape Times