Just two days into the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children, South Africans were confronted with one of the most despicable examples of the horrors which we are fighting to stop.
After what the Diamond Fields Advertiser rightly describes as one of the most horrifying instances of child rape they have ever reported, a six-week-old baby is fighting for her life in intensive care, in a critical but stable condition, in Kimberley Hospital, and is undergoing extensive emergency surgery to repair injuries sustained in the ordeal.
Members of the Galeshewe community hunted down the alleged perpetrator - the baby's uncle - and he was expected to appear in court today.
By a grim coincidence the National police commissioner, Riah Phiyega, has been in Galeshewe today, as part of the 16 Days of Activism campaign, to visit the family of an 87-year-old woman who was raped and murdered in her house in the same township on Sunday, and she was also expected to meet the baby's family. The baby is the mother's second child, after her firstborn died two days after birth.
COSATU is absolutely sickened at such an appalling crime and our members will be even more committed to join the campaign, not just for 16 days but for 365 days, to stamp out such atrocities. Twelve years ago, in a very similar case, nine-months-old Baby Tshepang was brutally raped in Upington by her teenage mother's ex-boyfriend. It is worth recalling what COSATU said then, which is just as true today:
"No culture, provocation, neglect or mental condition can be used to justify this perverse behaviour. Violence against women and children has permeated all layers and spheres of our society to an extent that there is no place to hide. The recent spate of incidents of rape, gang rape and abuse in the home, school even in the pre-schools confirms this. Such shocking incidents signify the extent of the moral decay of our society and the lack of respect for human rights and dignity."