Four boys aged 10 to 13 have been arrested on suspicion of raping a four-year-old girl in South Africa.
The boys are currently being held at a youth detention centre and are expected to appear in court soon after the alleged rape in Muldersdrift, near Johannesburg, Eyewitness News reports.
The attack is said to have taken place on one of the country’s informal settlements, which are home to large parts of the poorest communities.
The mother of the four-year-old reportedly learned of the incident from her nephew as she was braiding a customer’s hair.
Police spokesperson Mavela Masondo said: ‘The boys, together with their guardians, as well as the mother and the victim, were taken to the police station and a rape case was opened for further investigation.’
The case comes less than a week after a man, 24, was arrested for allegedly raping a five-year-old girl in Khutsong, on Thursday.
Masondo said that the man broke into the child’s house and kidnapped her after her mother left her unattended alongside her sibling, 11. The suspect was later found and a child negligence investigation may be opened for the mother of the victim.
The UN has said violence against women in South Africa is ‘pervasive’, despite its attempts at legal reform.
Attacks rose after the lockdown-ban of alcohol in June and 21 women and children were killed in the first three weeks once it was lifted, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said.
In an address to the nation, Ramaphosa said: ‘As a country, we find ourselves in the midst of not one, but two, devastating epidemics. Although very different in their nature and cause, they can both be overcome – if we work together, if we each take personal responsibility for our actions and if we each take care of each other.
‘It is with the heaviest of hearts that I stand before the women and girls of South Africa this evening to talk about another pandemic that is raging in our country – the killing of women and children by the men of our country.’
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