A district surgeon turned away a six-year-old girl who said she had been raped - because he "was very busy and police had not followed correct procedure".
Three days later the girl, allegedly raped by a close relative, has yet to have a bath because she is still to be medically examined by a district surgeon.
Angry police in the area say her situation is not unusual and that "rape cases are lost because of surgeons".
The young girl, from Nondweni in northern KwaZulu-Natal, was raped after her alleged attacker lured her out of her home on Sunday.
Her furious mother said she was "repeatedly raped" by the family relative. The case was reported to police on Sunday.
On Monday police officers accompanied the girl to the state doctor.
"He refused to examine my child. He said we must go to his other clinic in Nqutu the next day. The evidence in my child's case is destroyed. It will now be very hard to prove in court that the child was raped although I made the statement to police.
"The doctor did not even listen to the police and I do not know whether my child has contracted any disease."
Health department spokesperson Chris Maxon said: "We will have to investigate. If people are not keen to assist our people they have to be taken out of the (health) system."
According to police, the area is plagued by frequent rapes of young children. However, most cases get thrown out of court simply because of a lack of evidence, according to Detectives Siphamandla Masikana and Themba Mokwena.
Both officers said they accompanied the girl to district surgeon Jan Vorie's offices.
"Rape cases are very serious and we do not need an appointment (with a district surgeon). We arrested the suspect but we need this evidence in court and we had to go to another district surgeon in Emondlo for assistance," Mokwena said.
But the district surgeon, Jan Vorie, claims police had not followed protocol and that he could not examine the victim because legally it would have resulted in a technical breach that would result in a lost court case.
He also rejected that there were previous instances where victims were turned away.
Vorie, who said he was "very busy" when the police arrived, said: "Police are aware of the protocol and procedures. They have to take the victim to the local rape crisis centre where the victim receives psychological help. The centre will then phone me to conduct the relevant tests and examinations."
Cookie Edwards from the Network Against Violence said: "There was no need for the doctor to chase the vulnerable child away because that destroys evidence.
"The surgeon should have examined the child and also assisted in ensuring that she got the necessary treatment."