From the news desk

Bonteheuwel residents shocked and angered after girls rape

By Abubaker Abrahams

Bonteheuwel residents are seething following the arrest of a 53-year-old man accused of raping a six-year-old girl and then giving her R5 as payment. According to reports, the perpetrator is allegedly known to the family and is in police custody. The suspect appeared in the Bishop Lavis Magistrates Court on Thursday, but the matter was postponed.

The alleged rape occurred in the man’s house, where the child and her mother live in a back-yard dwelling. The mother reported the matter to the police, after she found the child and suspect in the bathroom within the main dwelling. He was arrested by SAPS last week Friday.

“We are concerned with the escalating amount violence against young girls, as young as 6 months and in this case 6 yrs. We feel that not enough is done by the government,” said Nadia Mayman, the Chairperson of the Joint Peace Forum Committee in Bonteheuwel, in an interview with VOC on Thursday.

Rape cases are shockingly on the rise in South Africa. In a Police Portfolio Committee last year on crime stats, approximately 110 cases of rape were reported per day.  In Cape Town alone, there have been an increase in the number of rapes and murder of young girls on the Cape Flats.

Mayman said the increase in young girls being raped was worrisome and said government needs to intervene to eradicate this social problem.

Bonteheuwel has had its struggle against gang violence and crime in the area but Mayman said the concerned Bonteheuwel community won’t keep quiet on this case, adding that awareness will be enhanced with it being Woman’s Month.

“The community of Bonteheuwel is angry. People are speaking their mind especially on social media,” she added.

“We have called on social media for people to make their way to the court in Bishops Lavis… we are urging the community to go and support the plea for no bail to the perpetrator.”

The Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD) has sent social workers to the family. The department said the mother must be commended for having seemingly immediately launched an aggressive search for her child when she noticed the child was taking too long to return from an errand.

“Allegations that the suspect tried to bribe the child with R5, to either be sexually assaulted or not disclose the incident, are particularly outrageous. We once again appeal to our child protection partners at the SAPS to conduct a thorough investigation, and put forward a strong case for prosecution,” said the department’s MEC Albert Fritz.

Fritz said community members must send a strong message to society that there is a zero tolerance to the neglect, abuse and murder of children in the Western Cape.

“It would seem once again that this incident reveals how the suspects in either incidents of child murder or in this case alleged sexual abuse are persons known and perhaps even trusted by the victim,” he said.

“I continue to call on parents and communities to be extra vigilant of their children. No government can replace the role of a vigilant, responsible and engaged parent in the household. Parents are the first and most important line of defence against child abuse and murders.”

Mayman further assured the Bonteheuwel community of an 18 month campaign starting on the 9th of August to engage and educate all women on gender violence and crime. VOC

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