Johannesburg - A 13-year-old Brakpan boy is alleged to have groomed his 6-year-old neighbour for sex, repeatedly raped her and infected her with HIV.
She is now on antiretroviral treatment.
As her parents battle to come to terms with what happened, because they considered the boy their own child, their daughter seems unaware that what happened is wrong.
She doesn’t want her abuser jailed, saying he is her boyfriend.
She misses him and keeps asking where he is because she doesn’t see him at her house anymore.
“When she asks where he is and whether he has been locked up, what can you say to your child?” her heartbroken mother asked.
On November 4, the girl’s 16-year-old brother left her with his friend, her abuser, to go to his grandparents’ home a few houses away.
When he returned, he heard noises coming from the back as if someone was crying.
He went to the back of the house and found his friend penetrating his sister anally.
The boy got off his sister, quickly pulled his pants up and fled.
The police were called and the girl was taken to hospital.
It’s not known how long he had been raping her, but when she was examined, it was found that she had been penetrated repeatedly.
“The girl said the boy did it to her all the time and that she was not aware that she was supposed to tell anyone about it,” a neighbour said.
It was also discovered that the girl was HIV-positive and had another sexually transmitted disease.
Hospital staff at the clinic where she was born confirmed she was not born with the virus.
Her mother said the boy was born HIV-positive and that she knows this because she is close to his mother.
The 40-year-old woman said she baths her daughter and saw no telltale signs that she was being sexually abused.
“All her father does is cry. This is painful. How can someone you trust like that hurt your child like that? I have known him since he was a baby, he grew up in front of me. When I spoke to him about this, he asked me why I was making a big deal about it. I told the police what he said,” she stated.
Both the mother and the neighbour said their pain and the trauma of what had happened was intensified by the police’s attitude to the case.
Although, the little girl’s abuser was arrested immediately after the rape, he was released the following day because the court did not have a statement from her.
The neighbour said they pleaded with the police to take a statement but they didn’t.
“The police officer asked me why I was in a hurry for the statement to be taken when the case will only come before the magistrate in 2016.
“When I asked him how in 2016 the child will remember what happened to her, he focused his attention on the mother, saying she was a drunkard whose children would be taken away.”
The neighbour said that despite all the girl has been through, she has not been offered counselling by the officers at Tsakane police station, where the case was opened, or at Far East Rand Hospital, where she was treated.
“The investigating officer said we should not put him under pressure about counselling and he would do that when he has time.
“The child needs counselling because her whole mentality has to be changed.
“She keeps asking whether he is fine and does not understand why we are making a fuss about it,” the neighbour said.
The police took the statement from the child only after The Star intervened.
Gauteng police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said the case against the boy was temporarily withdrawn to allow the police to obtain a statement. He said the police could not take the statement immediately as she was in a state of shock.
Dlamini said the child would be taken to social workers for an assessment later.
He said it was not true that the case would only be heard in 2016.
“The head of the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit is not aware of the allegations that the case will be heard in 2016, as the police do not make the decisions on court cases.”
What the psychologist says
If the child doesn’t get sex education, then the child may believe it’s fine
The 13-year-old boy might not have been consciously aware that he was grooming the young girl, making her far more sexual than she should have been, says clinical psychologist Ntshediseng Tlooko.
Between the ages of 3 and 6, she said, a child was in what is called the phallic stage. This is when children stroke or rub their genitals to self-soothe.
“If the child does not get sex education to help her understand that no one is allowed to touch her down there and that if someone does that, it is wrong, then the child will believe it is fine because at times it may feel good.
“The young girl did not see what the 13-year-old was doing as bad because to her, being in the phallic stage, where most of her energy is anyway focused on her genitals and she is deriving pleasure from her genitals, it did not seem wrong. It is also possible that the boy was warm and gentle towards her, making it easy for the little girl to not see it as abuse and more as affection.”
Tlooko said she might grow up to believe that sex equated to love and affection. “She will, therefore, engage with men primarily sexually and use sex as a currency for her to get love. This could lead to her becoming promiscuous. It would be important for her to get psychotherapy.”
Tlooko said if someone approached a child in a non-threatening manner and was “nice” to them, the child might find it difficult to recognise that it was abuse and therefore not report it.
“That is why sex education from a very early age is so important,” she said.
What would make a 13-year-old boy rape another child? There could be many reasons, Tlooko said.
Although the boy was entering puberty and his hormones were “all over the place”, he should have a had a better understanding than the younger child of what was right and wrong.
Another possibility was that he could have learnt the behaviour. “Normally children who grow up in unstable homes, without consistent parenting and with inconsistent discipline and care, may end up engaging in criminal behaviour. These kids usually start out by being very ill-disciplined, having symptoms of ADHD (attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder), then they develop into bullies or they start stealing from other children.
“Thereafter they start getting involved in other criminal behaviour, such as smoking, drugs and forcing their peers or children much younger than them into doing things they do not necessarily want to do, which may result in rape.”
* Not her real name.