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Murder of four-year-old shocks South Africa

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-12-31 11:13

JOHANNESBURG - The rape and murder of a four- year-old girl in Brakpan southeast of Johannesburg sent shock waves in the country on Monday.

Jasmine Pretorius was allegedly raped and murdered by her 23- year-old uncle at the weekend. Her body was found under a bed at her father's home.

The suspect, charged with murdering his niece, appeared briefly in the Brakpan Magistrates Court Monday morning. Hundreds of community members gathered outside the court, yelling and calling the accused a pig and drug addict. The crowd threatened to take justice into their own hands if the accused was not punished severely.

Women, Children and People with Disabilities Minister Lulu Xingwana reacted with shock and anger to the crime. "The minister has called on the courts and the justice system to be swift and firm when sentencing whoever is found guilty of this crime," Xingwana's spokesperson Motalatale Modiba said.

The court should deny the suspect bail and give him the harshest sentence possible, Modiba said.

Pretorius is the latest victim of uncurbed violence against children in and around Johannesburg over the past few months.

In October, at least four children were killed in Diepsloot, north of Johannesburg.

In a related development, a 34-year-old mother and her four children, aged between two months and five-years, were stabbed to death inside their home on Sunday morning in a village in northern South Africa. The suspect, 44, was believed to be the woman's boyfriend. He was hospitalized after drinking a poisonous substance.

The motive for the killing remains unknown.

The latest cases highlight the seriousness of gender-based violence in South Africa which has one of the highest crime rates in the world. Amid rising crime, children and women often fall victim to criminals.

According to the statistics provided by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa last year, the combined figures of all sexual offenses, including rape and indecent assault, indicated an upward trend of 2.1 percent in 2010/11 from 2009/2010.

Cases of murder of women increased by 5.6 percent and sexual offenses against children increased by 2.6 percent during this period.

Figures from the Children's Institute at the University of Cape Town also showed that an average of three children are murdered daily in South Africa.

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