Red tape foils justice for raped girl, 3
Failed by authorities after vile act ‘by dad’
HEALTH authorities in the province have dismally failed a 3-year-old girl who was sexually assaulted, allegedly by her father, about a month ago.
Following the child’s ordeal, a doctor at Mamelodi Day Hospital’s crisis centre twice gave the child a clean bill of health. Without a referral letter from this hospital, the specialised sexual assault unit at Steve Biko Academic Hospital could not properly examine the child.
A doctor from a private hospital who subsequently examined her found signs that she was sexually abused. He referred his findings to Steve Biko hospital, but the child could not be attended to because the referral came from a private hospital. Moreover, the hands of the SAPS were tied; they could not investigate the case opened by the child’s aunt without a doctor’s report.
Meanwhile, each day that went by without the child being examined hampered the case. This is because her wounds healed quickly, and other symptoms such as a discharge could clear up.
The child, only identified as C, is also subjected to possible other medical dangers which cannot be detected if she is not examined.
This sad tale came before the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, yesterday via an urgent application by the child’s aunt. She asked the court to order Steve Biko to examine the child to ascertain the injuries to her private parts so that the police investigation could begin.
The father is meanwhile continuing with his life in an informal settlement in the city.
Judge Hans Fabricius yesterday commented that this was “a terrible case”.
Neither the Health MEC, Steve Biko chief executive or the head of Mamelodi Day Hospital filed any papers to explain why the child was denied help. These authorities were cited as respondents, but simply agreed to a court order that the child could now be examined by the Steve Biko hospital.
But Judge Fabricius said this was not good enough. He questioned what happened to other children in a similar situation. “How can I prevent further occurrences like this?”, he said, adding mechanisms should be in place to prevent this.
Counsel for the aunt agreed and said C was very lucky that her aunt was in a position to turn to court. He said he did not know what happened to others in a similar position.
In terms of the agreement, C had to be admitted to the hospital yesterday to be examined today. The findings will then be reported to the police to start with their investigation.
The judge ordered that the chief executives of the two hospitals and the provincial Health Department file affidavits to the registrar of the court, and to him, on their position. “Maybe we can then find answers.”
After he has considered the answers, the judge said, he would decide whether further court orders were necessary to prevent similar incidents.
The aunt said in court papers the child’s mother dropped her off at her home last month, saying she was becoming a sangoma and could not take care of her. The aunt had to go on a business trip and asked the father to take care of C. When she returned, the child told her in childish manner that he had inserted his penis in her genitalia, anus and mouth. After catching the father in a compromised position with the child, she chased him away.
She took the child to the Mamelodi Day Hospital but was told nothing was wrong, but the child kept complaining. She also had a discharge and was agitated and traumatised at the mention of her father’s name. She also started biting other children. The aunt then laid a sexual assault charge at the police station.