South African society was failing its children, the DA said on Thursday, following the rape and assault of an eight-year-old girl in Gingindlovu, KwaZulu-Natal.
“We are simply failing our children as a nation,” Democratic Alliance spokeswoman on women, children and people with disabilities Helen Lamoela said.
The girl was raped, bitten, and had an eye gouged out on Monday.
In a statement Lamoela said a string of rapes against vulnerable people has made headlines this week.
“Barely a week ago, we heard of the brutal gang-rape of a young mentally disabled girl in Soweto by seven young men.
“We need to interrogate the concept of masculinity and re-frame the role of boys and men so that they can become model men, fathers, husbands, brothers and uncles.”
In another case, two girls, aged 17 and 18, appeared in a Soweto court on Monday in connection with the rape of a 17-year-old mentally ill boy.
Lamoela said the DA in Gauteng had already called for special rape courts, and she believed it should be made a national priority.
A 15-year-old boy appeared in the Gingindlovu Periodical Court on Thursday in connection with the crime. He was released into the custody of his parents.
On Wednesday KwaZulu-Natal police spokesman Captain Thulane Zwane said the girl's attacker dragged her into a sugarcane field next to her home, where her grandmother was waiting for her to get back from school.
“The eight-year-old victim could barely walk, but managed to drag herself into the yard in front of her house before collapsing. She was dressed in her school uniform and was dishevelled and dirty.”
The girl was taken to a clinic, and from there to a hospital.
“He gouged her left eye out of the socket, and tried but failed with the right eye, which was left swollen shut. She was bleeding profusely from both eyes,” said Zwane.
“The suspect also bit her on the neck, raped her and left her lying helplessly on the ground.” There was also an attempt to strangle her.
Gingindlovu is about 60km south-east of Richard's Bay. - Sapa