The baby is fighting for her life after being raped – allegedly by her mother’s brother.
In one of the most horrifying instances of child rape ever reported, the infant, born on October 17, is in intensive care after being brought to Kimberley Hospital around 2am on Wednesday.
She underwent extensive emergency surgery to repair the injuries sustained in the ordeal.
According to a relative, who cannot be identified as it would identify the baby, the child’s 22-year-old unmarried mother had put the infant down to sleep in the bedroom of their Galeshewe home and was sitting in the lounge with the child’s grandmother watching television.
The relative said that after a short while, the mother heard the baby cry and went to check on her. When she entered the bedroom, she saw that the child was missing and that the bedroom curtain had been removed.
Screaming that her child had been abducted, she ran to the relative’s house.
The frantic grandmother, meanwhile, heard the infant’s cries coming from a shack in the family’s backyard. When she forced open the door, her 24-year-old son pushed her out of the way and ran out – zipping up his pants.
According to the relative, she and several other neighbours heard the screams of the grandmother and rushed to the shack.
“When I got there, the baby was lying naked on the bed and there was a lot of blood. She was crying,” said the relative.
She wrapped the naked infant in a blanket and the child was taken to hospital.
Local residents apparently hunted down the man and caught him a few blocks from the house.
It is alleged that he had lifted the baby out of the bedroom through the window.
The suspect was apparently involved in an altercation with the police a week ago and was shot twice during the incident.
The baby is the mother’s second child – her firstborn died two days after birth.
Department of Health spokeswoman Lulu Mxekezo confirmed that a six-week-old baby was admitted to Kimberley Hospital.
Social worker Dr Amelia Kleijn said: “These men, they are products of our society, they are not born like that. This act has nothing to do with sex. It’s about revenge, it’s about revenge against the world.”
Kleijn said men who rape young children are usually the product of childhood abuse so horrific, it had removed their ability to show empathy. They got progressively more angry with the world as they grew into adulthood, and the tipping point that pushed them over into raping a child could be something small. She did her doctorate on men who were serving long sentences for raping children under the age of three.
Katherine Robinson, the communications manager of the NGO Gender Links, said we should be careful about creating a hierarchy of age, as the rape of any person was unacceptable.
Bafana Khumalo, the senior programmes specialist at Sonke Gender Justice, said: “Our view is we need to scale up programmes that are targeting men on behaviour change. We are not doing enough in these matters.”
“As a mother, I was shocked and deeply saddened when I heard the tragic news,” national police commissioner Riah Phiyega said on Wednesday.
“Whilst I am pleased that the perpetrator has been arrested, the incident and similar others which have taken place over the past couple of days in Galeshewe is something of huge concern to the police and broader community.”
Phiyega said she would visit the family and hold a prayer session on Thursday. – Sapa/Diamond Fields Advertiser