Gauteng Social Development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza said she had received a message that the teenager, who was reported to have been kidnapped, was in Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital fighting for her life. File picture: Dumisani Sibeko/ANA

Johannesburg - As South Africa observes Child Protection Week, a 13-year-old schoolgirl is fighting for her life in hospital after a vicious attack that could leave her brain damaged.

Gauteng Social Development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza said she had received a message at the weekend that the teenager, who was reported to have been kidnapped, was in hospital fighting for her life.

“On Saturday night, I received a message that tormented me throughout the night,” she said.

It read: “It is with a painfully heavy heart that I write this. I’m appealing to all to pray for 13-year-old Sammy*, who is lying in a hospital bed in Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital on life support and fighting for her life.

“She is displaying no brain activity and isn’t responding to medication. She needs everyone’s prayers.”

Mayathula-Khoza said she had received the message the day before the launch of Child Protection Week, which started yesterday and ends on Sunday.

The MEC made an emotional plea for a “society-wide effort to end the abuse and murder of children in this country”.

“I am informed that Sammy is from Rosettenville, southern Joburg. She was kidnapped last week while on her way home from school.

“Her family and friends frantically searched for her, but were unsuccessful.

“She was found a few days later in the boot of a car owned by a white male, who is unknown to her family. She was barely alive,” Mayathula-Khoza said.

She said Sammy had been raped and beaten and thrown into the boot of the car.

“While a suspect has been arrested in this case, I am saddened that many more children suffer like this.

The Star tried to get more information on the case and when the suspect was expected to appear in court.

But Johannesburg Central police spokesperson Captain Xoli Mbele said he would only be able to ascertain more details this morning.

The Moffat View Community Policing Forum could also not confirm the incident. They said they would verify the information with the police and respond today.

A recent study showed that many South African children experience sexual, physical or emotional abuse before the age of 18.

“While reports of sexual abuse perpetrated against children usually spark outrage, physical abuse of children goes largely unnoticed, particularly when such abuse occurs in the home and is seen as “discipline”, said researchers from the Child- ren’s Institute at the University of Cape Town.

The study of 2000 children in Soweto from birth to 22 showed that 99% of these youngsters had been exposed to some form of direct or indirect violence in their lifetime.

Professor Shanaaz Mathews, director of the Children’s Institute and co-investigator on the BT20+ study, said children who experienced physical punishment were also more likely to display aggressive behaviour, with “more than 65% of primary school children and 89% of adolescents reported to have used violence”.

* Not her real name

The Star