Red tape foils jus­tice for raped girl, 3

Failed by au­thor­i­ties af­ter vile act ‘by dad’

Pretoria News - - FRONT PAGE - ZELDA VEN­TER zelda.ven­

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.

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