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No justice for raped Baby Lerato

Maverick State officially made the handover of the promised donation at the home of "Baby Lerato" late last week. Seen here is Baby Lerato in her new cot. Picture: Danie Van der Lith

Maverick State officially made the handover of the promised donation at the home of "Baby Lerato" late last week. Seen here is Baby Lerato in her new cot. Picture: Danie Van der Lith

Published Feb 5, 2015

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 Kimberley - No one will be held accountable for the brutal rape of “Baby Lerato” after her uncle, who was arrested for the crime, was declared a State patient and cannot be held criminally liable for his actions.

The 24-year-old accused will be sent to a mental facility for a period that will be determined by a panel of experts.

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The police on Wednesday confirmed that the case had been finalised.

Baby Lerato’s mother believes that the justice system has failed them. She said on Wednesday that she was never consulted on this decision.

The child’s rape occurred in November 2013 hen she was six weeks old. Her mother had put the baby down to sleep in the bedroom of their Galeshewe home.

The uncle, who lived in a shanty in the backyard, allegedly lifted the child through the bedroom window and took her to his shanty, where he allegedly raped her.

The grandmother, who heard the infant’s cries, forced the locked door of the shanty open, and saw the naked baby lying in a pool of blood on the bed.

The uncle, who rushed out of the shanty, was apparently still zipping up his pants, when the grandmother went inside.

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Baby Lerato has undergone serveral surgeries to repair the severe injuries sustained after she was raped.

A gynaecologist at the Kimberley Hospital, who first attended to the baby, had described her injuries as being the worst he had ever witnessed on such a young infant.

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The incident drew the attention of national police commissioner General Riah Phiyega, President Jacob Zuma and the office of the Northern Cape Premier.

On Wednesday Baby Lerato’s mother said she was informed by the investigating officer via an SMS on Tuesday evening at 8pm that her brother was declared a State (mental) patient.

“I have never slept a wink. My brother will be kept at the correctional services facility (Kimberley Correctional Centre) until the outcome of the case. I was not aware of my brother’s court appearance on Tuesday in the Kimberley Magistrate’ Court because it was only scheduled to continue later this year. If I had known I would have made a plan to attend because I wanted to hear the reasons why the case cannot proceed.”

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She also said that she was not provided with any details about where her brother would be institutionalised.

“He has already threatened to kill me and my baby. Mental patients are able to manipulate their caregivers into believing that they are psychologically healthy. I don’t want to see him again. He should not be released back into society because he poses a grave danger to me and my daughter.”

She pointed out that there was no guarantee that the accused would remain institutionalised for a long time.

“I visited him in prison and he never apologised for what he did. He will never be held responsible for the terrible things that he did. I wanted closure but all I am left with now are the nightmares in my head.”

She added that her daughter had started crèche this year and was doing well.

“I was hoping that one day when I explained what happened to her, that I could tell her that justice was served, but now I can not. We will never be free, knowing that he could roam the streets one day. I am afraid that he will seek revenge against me because he had to spend time in custody.”

Chairwoman of the ANC Women’s League in the Frances Baard region, Rosaline Tyler, said she was “extremely disappointed” at the abrupt closure of the case.

“For the past two years, it has been one postponement after another and long waits for the psychiatric reports. We are aggrieved at the slow pace of the trial, which never officially got off the ground. The doctors who attended to the baby’s severe injuries and the people who cared for the accused during the time he was taken into custody, were never called to the stand to testify. Now the trial has been aborted and no one is being held responsible.”

Police spokeswoman Colonel Priscilla Naidu said that any form of threat or harassment involving an accused would be dealt with accordingly.

“While the police do not offer protection to the complainants upon the release of an accused, any such incident should be immediately reported to the police.”

Spokeswoman for Premier Sylvia Lucas, Bronwyn Thomas-Abrahams, said the premier needed time to familiarise herself with the judgment.

“If the accused has been found to be mentally unstable, she appeals to the relevant authorities that the accused be remanded in a place of safety where the staff are suitably qualified to deal with his disorder. In this way it will be assured that he does not pose a threat to himself and the community at large.

“The premier is confident that the authorities will take all the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of the baby and her family.”

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