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TODDLER’S UNREPORTED RAPE EXPOSED

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MBABANE - A two-year-old toddler has been denied justice in the name of tibi tendlu after being raped, allegedly by her grandfather.
Tibi tendlu is a siSwati adage which means sweeping matters under the carpet.


Members of the toddler’s family and nurses at a clinic situated close to her home failed to report to the police that she had been sexually abused.
This is much against the recently enacted Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Act, which stipulates clearly that any person who is aware of a sexual violation act, and does not report it, also face prosecution.


Section 70 (1) read: “Any person who witnesses or receives any information of an offence under this Act or has reasonable grounds to believe that an offence under this Act, has taken place or is about to take place, shall report the case to the police or to relevant structure. (2) A person who contravenes subsection (1) commits an offence and is liable on conviction to pay a fine not exceeding one thousand Emalangeni or a term of imprisonment not exceeding three months or to both.”


According to a source close to the minor, some family members have been threatened with death if they reported the matter which occurred in March last year. “It is for this same reason that I decided to approach you instead of the police. I believe if you expose the rot, the police will respond quickly,” the source said.


threatened


The insider revealed that one of the family members only got wind of the incident in August last year and tried to pursue the matter, but stopped after being threatened.


On how the relative got the information, the source said the family was confronted by a nurse from the nearby clinic who wanted to know how the minor was responding to treatment, as she had been treated for a sexually transmitted illness (STI) and had also been given Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PErP).
“The relative asked, ‘what treatment?’ That is when the health worker told him what had happened to the girl,” the source said.


Giving a brief background, the informant said in early March, the child’s great grandmother noticed some blisters on the toddler’s private parts while bathing her. The toddler had been left under her care by its mother, *Busi, who is still a teenager.


Worth noting, Busi is doing Form III at a local school as she went back to school after dropping out due to pregnancy. The publication made an attempt to contact the father of the child. however, it was discovered that there were issues of paternity that were still pending, hence his request to be excused from making any comment.


After the discovery, the elderly woman is said to have informed Busi and further monitored the toddler, which led to her noticing a discharge from the baby’s private parts.


Nurses


“She then instructed that the minor should be taken to a clinic. At the clinic, nurses are said to have told the mother that her child might have been sexually assaulted,” the source said.


A nurse, who spoke on condition of anonymity, stated that the mother was advised to report the matter to police before taking the child to a doctor at Sithobelweni Health Centre where it was referred. “The matter was also forwarded to the clinic’s social workers, who interviewed the child in the absence of the mother.  Even though she was babbling, we were able to understand what she meant when she said kuyu,” the nurse said.


She explained that they understood the toddler to be saying that the person who violated her was her grandfather.
Relatives of the child revealed in an interview that the baby always referred to Busi’s stepfather as mkhulu (grandfather).
Based on the interview of the child and the suspect she is believed to have pointed out, instead of taking the nurse’s advice, Busi decided to inform her mother about it.


“In turn, the mother allegedly warned Busi not to report the matter to the police because she feared her husband would be arrested. The mother further threatened that she would not pay Busi’s school fees if she reported the matter. Other family members were not spared as she is said to have indirectly threatened anyone with death if they spread the sad news,” the health worker said.


The nurse alleged that Busi’s mother advised against taking the toddler to a doctor but instead gave her a concoction of herbs (timbita) which were meant to cure the infection. “Basically, that is how the matter has been kept under-wraps,” the nurse said.


The minor’s grandmother could face a jail term of five years for convincing Busi not to report the matter, according to the Act.
Section 71 of the Act states that any person who coerces a victim of a sexual offence not to report or withdraw a complaint to the police regarding the offence because of their interest or the interest of another person, commits an offence. 


police


Asked why they failed to alert the police after examining the toddler, the health worker stated that they had thought the mother would do it after being advised.
When Busi was called on her phone, after the reporter had introduced himself, the woman who answered it denied knowing the toddler’s mother or also being the mother. “I’m not ... I think you called a wrong number,” the woman responded before abruptly ending the call.


Meanwhile, a police officer under the Domestic Violence department, who asked that his identity should not be revealed because he was not mandated to speak to the media, said the health workers should not have examined the child further without a police report.


Chief Police Information and Communications Officer (PICO) Superintendent Phindile Vilakati confirmed that they were investigating the matter. She was quick to point out that the matter had not been reported to them by either relatives or health workers, but police were aware of it through other means.

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