The mother of a 17-year-old gang-rape victim is relieved that her daughter is alive, but she says she can’t live like this anymore.
It is not the first time that the mentally handicapped girl has gone missing, and she has been raped more than once in the seven years that they have lived in Bramfischerville, Soweto.
In the latest incident, the girl went missing during the afternoon of March 24, and was later seen by a neighbour in Dobsonville.
A week later the mother, who can’t be named as it would identify the child, reported the incident to the police.
However, she said that police didn’t open a case because, the girl had a history of going missing and then turning up.
“I went to look for her in Snake Park… I looked for her for two weeks,” the 48-year-old mother said.
Now it has emerged that over the past week she was repeatedly raped by seven men who filmed their crime and circulated it on social networks.
The low-quality cellphone video shows a girl being raped in an open veld, screaming and begging for the seven young men to stop as they take turns raping her. They ignore her cries, joking and spurring each other on. The video ends with one of the suspects offering the girl R2 and she is heard crying.
It was only after the footage was delivered to the police on Tuesday, by reporters from a daily newspaper, that a search for the perpetrators and the girl was launched.
Within hours of the case having been lodged, seven young men – aged between 14 and 20 – were arrested on Tuesday at their respective homes.
On Wednesday, a 37-year-old Doornkop man was arrested by residents while trying to flee the area with the girl.
The teen was later reunited with her mother at the Dobsonville police station.
“Thank god my daughter is still alive, but I can’t live a life like this anymore,” the single mother said. “I am happy to have her back in my arms.”
She said her daughter often got the urge to leave in the afternoon.
“She goes into a trance and goes, and when she returns she has no recollection of where she has been”.
The mother is desperate to get the teenager into a place of safety.
“I would go and visit her and would stay in regular contact,” the mother, who works as a child minder, said.
Speaking to The Star on Wednesday night, the mother said the teenager had been seen by a doctor and has had several medical tests done, including one for HIV.
Sitting in the single-room house in Bramfischerville, in her night dress, the teenager sat quietly playing with a family friends’ baby.
According to her mother, she has no recollection of the incident.
The mother said the girl was first raped in 2009 when she was 14. She said the matter was reported, and the rapist was deported.
The last time she went missing was in December. She was found by a neighbour, who had called the Snake Park police station.
Visiting the family on Wednesday, MEC for Safety and Security Faith Mazibuko said the girl had been kept as a sex slave without being fed.
“The girl doesn’t even remember when the last she had food,” Mazibuko said.
Outside the family’s RDP house, angry residents said this wasn’t the first time the girl had gone missing.
“Whenever we see the girl roaming around the streets we approach the mother who never takes us seriously. She tells us that we are rude. We want her to be taken away from the community,” said Zanele Mandwane, a resident in the area.
The incident has been called “appalling”, “un-African” and “shocking”.
Musician Yvonne Chaka Chaka said: “I’m very very sad. It’s outrageous. I’m very upset and very disgusted. Dobsonville is my home town. I don’t know what is happening in our society. It’s high time that we as a society go back to botho barona (our humanity/ubuntu).
“Those young boys should be the ones protecting these girls. We need to help not only the girl but the perpetrators as well.”
Women, Children and People with Disabilities Minister Lulu Xingwana said the crime was despicable and did not belong in a free and democratic SA.
“In addition to the painful ordeal of rape she was forced to endure, she is now subjected to a second assault on her dignity.
“We must all spare a thought for this young girl who has been violated in such a cruel and inhuman way.”
Meanwhile, Film and Publication Board spokesman Prince Mlimandlela Ndamase has warned those who own or distribute the video that they may face possible prosecution under the Film and Publications Act.
The board’s CEO, Yoliswa Makhasi, described the incident as an “inhumane criminal act’’.
She, too, warned the public that they could be arrested if found in possession of the footage.
“We warn members of the public to refrain from distributing the video as doing so may lead to them being criminally prosecuted for distributing child pornography.” - The Star