Residents of Gingindlovu in KwaZulu-Natal are walking their children to and from school and asking them to be extra vigilant after an eight-year-old girl was dragged into a sugarcane field by a 15-year-old schoolboy who raped and throttled her, bit her neck and tried to gouge out her eyes.
The child, who cannot be identified, was in Ngwelezane Hospital in Empangeni last night after undergoing an emergency operation. Her right eye was heavily bandaged and still swollen.
The child was on her way home from school on Monday with the teenager, who attends the same school as her, when he pounced on her.
Bleeding profusely and in a state of shock, the Grade 2 pupil dragged herself to her home nearby, where she collapsed in front of her grandmother.
Speaking at the family’s home yesterday, the child’s emotional grandmother could barely keep herself from breaking down as she described the ordeal.
She said her granddaughter had finished school at 2pm and would normally have been home at 2.30pm.
“When she did not return by 4pm I became worried. As I got out of the house to go and search for her, she collapsed right in front of me,” she said.
“She was injured seriously, her eyes were bleeding and she was dirty.”
The grandmother said the child could not even speak as she cried out “gogo, gogo” (grandmother, grandmother).
“I trusted the boy because he went to school with my grand-daughter and they went to Sunday school together,” she said.
“My granddaughter told me that he dragged her into the sugarcane field and she told him to stop but he continued… She cried out but nobody could hear her. When he was done raping her, he tried to gouge her eyes, bit her in the neck and then strangled her, leaving her helpless. She was in a critical condition and I thought she would die.”
A relative then arrived and took the child to Ngwelezane Hospital. The teenager fled.
Colonel Jay Naicker said a teenager had been arrested and appeared in court in Gingindlovu yesterday.
“The suspect claimed that he was possessed by a demon as he heard voices that prompted him to carry out the attack,” he said.
“The investigating officer is following up on an unconfirmed report that the suspect, who is in Grade 6, had earlier in the day attacked another learner at school.” The suspect is in custody.
The school’s principal and teachers declined to comment.
The attack has startled the local community, and many parents are now escorting their children to and from school.
A resident, Khulekani Mthimkhulu, said he had to accompany his 10-year-old daughter to school every morning since the attack.
Another resident, Mandlenkosi Shoba, said the community were shocked and wanted justice to be done.
Other residents said rape was a “huge problem” in the area, but the latest incident was “inhumane”.
The child has been receiving counselling.