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    Departments called on to help preserve rights of mentally challenged woman who was allegedly raped twice

    Cape Town – The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and the Department of Social Development are being called in to assess and investigate the alleged continuous sexual abuse and neglect of a 23-year-old Riebeek Kasteel woman.Former Atlantis ward councillor Barbara Rass, who runs a shelter for abused women and children in the area, was approached to assist the family who were preparing to open a case with the police after the woman was allegedly raped in the bush by a relative.The woman has the mental capacity of a minor and has been disabled since the age of 5 after suffering from tuberculosis meningitis.The child’s mother, 43, who cannot be identified, works on a farm to provide for her family together with the help of her husband, with whom they five children.“She was 5-and-half when the first incident occurred. We reported the matter to the police and nothing happened with the case. We opened it the first time at Riebeek West police station and it was an unknown person,” the mother said.The mother detailed the alleged recent attack on her daughter.“Now with this second incident, it is an uncle who is married into the family. A week after the incident happened, she opened up to me and even told me the date. She even showed me the underwear. He apparently paid her a R10. He was off from work that day and that is when he did these things to her.“It was on a Wednesday and he told her they would be collecting wood in the bush and that his son would be accompanying them. But the son never went with and that is where it happened in the bush.”The mother added that they had a meeting with the man and his wife, where he made an admission to what he had done. “The police disappointed us the first time and we now even called on the church to get involved.”The family has since indicated they will be opening a case after they were provided assistance by Rass.The alleged suspect’s wife said she was also aware of the incident.“The father, who is my brother, called the daughter and she told me what happened and I was shocked.”Rass said they were appealing for the various departments to assist the family.“What we have witnessed is unacceptable, there are no structures in this community, that is why these incidents happen. We are on journey to the 16 days of activism and to me, the 16 days is a myth to what we witness today, a disabled child that was repeatedly raped.“The system failed her because the police did not take the first case seriously,” said Rass.Zena Nair, of the SAHRC, said they would look into the matter.“The contents will be perused and considered in order to determine the assistance the commission can give,” she said.Spokesperson for the MEC of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez, Joshua Chigome said they would also investigate the matter.“I have forwarded the request for help to our officials to investigate the matter and assess what support is needed thereafter, said Chigome.Police have now encouraged the family to open a case.Police spokesperson warrant officer Joseph Swartbooi said their offices were well-equipped to deal with cases of such nature. “The complainant (or parents) are urged to register a complaint with their local SAPS station. The trained personnel in the Family Violence, Child Abuse and Sexual Offences Unit will advise and assist the complainant to build and present a well-prepared case,” he said.Weekend Argus

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