By Loushe Jordaan Gilbert
The family of an eight-month-old Bonteheuwel baby found to have been sexually violated have accused a young girl, well known to the family, of being behind the alleged rape. These shocking revelations emerged this week, as the family of the infant broke their silence. The Bonteheuwel community has been left reeling following the incident, with many describing it as the most horrific case to surface in a while.
The suspect in question is alleged to be a minor female, however, no further details can be provided to protect the identity of both the victim and perpetrator. Spokesperson to the family, Ladovica Gordon said she is not prepared to reveal the age of the child suspect to shield her from any potential harm from the community.
“The children [both of them] will never ever be able to forget what happened to either of them. It is a catch 22 situation because either way, either child is going to have some kind of stigma attached to them should the community find out,” she stressed.
Two weeks ago, it was discovered that the baby was tampered with when the grandmother changed her nappy. On 29 June, the infant was left in the care of her grandmother as her mother had to rush off to work. The baby had been sleeping and the grandmother had to run to the shop across the street. Gordan said the baby was not left unattended.
“One of the aunts who was waiting on her transport stayed to keep an eye on the child but during the time the granny left, her transport arrived. The baby was then left with another relative who was in the house,” she said.
Gordan said in a matter of minutes, the relative also had to leave and the perpetrator, who had often come to the house, offered to stay until the grandmother returned.
“The perpetrator who frequents their home stayed behind to care for the sleeping baby and no one minded because the person is always around,” she stated.
Gordon said when the grandmother arrived, the perpetrator handed the baby over and said the child had been crying and it could possibly be because she needed to be changed.
“The perpetrator said the baby must have hurt herself or was wet because she was crying non-stop and the perpetrator demanded the granny take the child,” she added.
Upon changing the baby, the grandmother discovered blood coming from the baby’s private area as well as some redness. It was only when the aunt returned from work later that evening when the grandmother realised that the child was tampered with.
“When the aunt arrived the granny called her to check the baby’s private area and that is also the time they discovered a bloody towel close-by which was allegedly used to wiped the perpetrator’s fingers,” said Gordon.
The infant has since been removed from her home and placed into a place of safety, however, Gordan stated that the child was removed solely to protect her identity.
“Social services became aware of the fact the mother’s name was revealed during a radio interview last week which led to them removing her from her home. Speculation that she was removed due to negligence and abuse is completely inaccurate,” she added.
Family must seek counselling
The Teddy Bear Clinic said it is important that parents who have babies who are victims of rape undergo counselling. Director Shaheda Omar said this is vital as counselling a child under the age of two years old can be difficult.
“What we need to realise is any child under the age of two will not benefit from the counselling, in instances of such nature we would counsel the caregiver and provide support to the caregiver who would then be in a better position to provide the necessary comfort the child needs,” she said.
It is important to understand that there are certain changes the infant will experience, however, this will only surface at a later stage in the child’s life.
“The impact of trauma on a young child affects the brain later in life, the implications can be discovered through behavioural manifestations such as compulsive drinking, drug consumption, depression and other immoral activities,” she added.
Gordon said no counselling has since been made available to any persons who have been directly affected by this tragedy.
“To my knowledge, no form of counselling has been provided and we are still in the process of contacting the perpetrator’s family to discuss ways to assist them,” she added.
Gordon said they appeared before a judge at the Goodwood Magistrate Court where the case was postponed to later this month.
Police spokesperson Captain FC Van Wyk earlier stated that a case of rape is under investigation. VOC