Pretoria — The Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities has condemned in the strongest possible terms the rape of a five-year old child from Limpopo.
The department further reiterated its call to courts to impose the heaviest possible punishment against perpetrators found guilty of such crimes.
According to media reports, a Grade R pupil at Mmamatsha village at Ga-Molepo village, outside Polokwane, has allegedly been raped by three different men since she was three years old.
The department said sexual violence against children continued to be a matter of serious national concern and it was one of the worst and cruellest forms of child abuse.
"We see this as a sign of serious deterioration of the moral fibre of our society. We call on all members of our community to put the safety and welfare of children first.
"We also urge those who are entrusted with the care of children to remain vigilant at all times to ensure that the safety of children is not compromised," the department said on Wednesday.
The department said it was confident that the country's law-enforcement agencies would ensure that all perpetrators were put behind bars, re-emphasising that there should be no mercy for child abusers.
"They must face the full wrath of our criminal justice system. Those who molest and abuse children have no place in a democratic South Africa ... no child must be put through this ordeal."