Baby M's father must be charged, Social development dept says after mom gets life imprisonment

A doctor at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto informed police in November that severely injured baby M had been admitted. (iStock)
A doctor at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto informed police in November that severely injured baby M had been admitted. (iStock)

The Gauteng department of social development on Monday said it was working with the police and the courts to have Baby M's father charged for his role in her rape.  

"If both adults were present during or around the time the crime was committed, it is odd that only the mother was found to be criminally liable," said Gauteng social development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza.

Mayathula-Khoza was briefing the media at the department's offices on Commissioner Street in Johannesburg.

According to a TimesLive report, Baby M's mother was sentenced to life imprisonment for protecting the man that raped her 2-month-old baby. The baby was so severely injured that she had to undergo reconstructive surgery.

READ: Police welcome life sentence for mother who protected her baby's rapist

Mayathula-Khoza said: "We are happy that the South African Police Service has agreed with us and began preparing a docket for prosecution. The police also have requested a fresh analysis of the semen as well as other circumstantial evidence that can lead to the arrest and successful prosecution of the father."

The department has approached the court to make representations about the role the father played in the injuries suffered by Baby M. Mayathula-Khoza said at the very least the same charges that the mother faced should be laid against the father.

She added the department was outraged that the rapist was still at large.

"[W]e have since established that the child protocols were not followed when Baby M was removed from South Africa and released illegally to her aunt  across the border."

Spike in femicide levels

She said the department, as the custodian of children in terms of section 7 of the Children's Act 38 of 2005, has taken up the fight for justice for the child.

"We have already ensured that Baby M is returned from across the border and she is now temporarily at a place of safety while her birth is registered and documented. This process will help us plan for her future, help us identify and locate members of her family, determine the reasons the family was separated or estranged as well as assess specific vulnerabilities and needs for protection."

She said the arms of the law needed to be stretched further.

"As the government, we are worried about crimes such as that against Baby M and their impact on our society in general. These acts, by a few cruel men like those who rape babies, stigmatise men in general."

READ: Gauteng government to seek justice for two-month-old rape victim

The department said it was also concerned about the spike in the levels of femicide, the killing of women or girl children because of their gender.

"The conviction and 32-year prison sentence imposed on Sandile Mantsoe (for the murder of Karabo Mokoena) for femicide last week, so shortly after the conviction of Baby M's mother, brought into sharp focus the poor gender regulations in our society.

"These events place men as predominant perpetrators, and that, unfortunately, strengthens the belief that women and children are at greater risk of being murdered in familiar environments by men known to them."

The department has urged communities to report gender-based violence on the following 24-hour helplines: Human Trafficking Helpline 0800 222 777; Stop Women Abuse Helpline: 0800 150 150 and GBV Command Centre 0800 428 428.

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