December 1, 2013
Thursday morning’s South African front page headlines screamed out the latest scandal: For a final exam, high school drama students were asked to dramatize the rape of a baby using a broom and a loaf of bread.
But outrage over the drama test was swiftly eclipsed by a more shocking story that emerged Thursday. A 6-week-old baby girl from Galeshwe township, west of the diamond-mining town of Kimberley, was fighting for her life after being raped.
The girl’s 24-year-old uncle was arrested over the attack, which occurred Tuesday. Township residents had surrounded the suspect and threatened to kill him, according to local media, until relatives intervened to save him.
News of the alleged rape came as South Africa, with one of the highest rates of rape globally, was marking 16 days of activism against rape and violence against women, launched by President Jacob Zuma on Monday.
Western Cape provincial police Chief Arno Lamoer said he was sickened by the problem, saying there have been dozens of rapes reported in the Western Cape province alone since Zuma launched the campaign.
“If men don’t stand up, nothing will change,” Lamoer told Eye Witness News. “A 2-year-old was the youngest victim in this province. I don’t even want to refer to the 6-week-old baby in Kimberley. This is totally unacceptable.”
The 6-week-old baby had to have extensive surgery in Kimberley Hospital and was in intensive care in a critical but stable condition, according to an official from the Health Department.
The girl’s mother had put the baby to bed and was watching television in the next room when the child was abducted, according to local media reports.
Relatives of the infant said they heard the baby crying in a shack in the backyard, a local newspaper reported. “When I got there, the baby was lying naked on the bed and there was a lot of blood. She was crying,” a relative told the Diamond Fields Advertiser.