Rape of teen stirs outcry in South Africa

JOHANNESBURG — The chime sounds every four minutes on the radio station, reminding listeners that statistically yet another child or woman in South Africa is being raped.

It is also a call to action for citizens outraged over the gang-rape of a teenager who was mutilated and left to die.

While India agonizes with its high prevalence of rape after a fatal attack on a young woman on a bus, South Africans are now becoming galvanized by the attack on the teen in a small town. Civilians and governments in both countries are saying this must stop.


The injuries to the 17-year-old, who was buried Saturday, were so horrific that nurses in the operating theater, where doctors tried to save her life, are undergoing trauma counseling.

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The chimes on Talk Radio 702 are part of a campaign urging South Africans to identify perpetrators of rape. One in four females is raped here, according to several studies.

The Citizen newspaper published an editorial calling for citizens to take collective responsibility in the fight against sexual crimes.

And at a busy intersection near Johannesburg’s Sandton City, dozens of people waved placards saying ‘‘Stop rape.’’

South Africans appear to be inspired by the mass demonstrations in India to protest a culture of sexual violence after the gang-rape of a 23-year-old woman on a bus.


India, with a population of 1.2 billion, had 24,206 rapes reported in 2011. South Africa, population 50 million, reported 2.5 times that number last year.

President Jacob Zuma, who was acquitted on charges of raping a family friend’s daughter in 2005, said the perpetrators and all those who rape and abuse will face justice.

The 17-year-old raped a week ago in Bredasdorp was cut open from her stomach to her genitals. She lived long enough to identify a former boyfriend as one of her attackers, and police took him into custody. Two other suspects have also been arrested.