mom defends lover over raped child

IN OCTOBER 2008 Khensani* says she was raped - by her mother's live-in lover. She was 10 years old and is now HIV-positive.

Although this happened 16 months ago, the girl from Tsakane is still not on antiretrovirals.

Her aunt says when she discovered that her niece had been raped, she and her other sister took the little girl to the Duduza police station to report the matter the following day.

But she says an officer who was supposed to take them to the district surgeon was not available. The police only took her "two weeks later" to the doctor, who confirmed the rape.

The boyfriend was arrested a few days later and has remained in custody since. After several postponements, his trial began on February 2 - but the trial has stalled because the girl's mother refused to testify against him. It has now been postponed to March 16.

The aunt is angry that her sister has chosen her lover over her child. She says she is prepared to fight for justice for her niece.

Although the girl was moved to a place of safety on February 3, the aunt wants full custody.

What angers her even more is that her sister also denies any knowledge of the rape - despite the victim testifying in court that she had told her of the attack.

Yesterday the aunt, who lives in nearby Duduza, said: "This child lived with me but my sister decided to take her in 2008. On weekends my niece would come to my house. One morning while preparing the child for school, I saw semen on her underwear."

The girl told her she had been raped by her mother's boyfriend.

The angry aunt said her sister's behaviour was shameful. "This is a very, very sad case. The mother refuses to testify.

"She also denies any knowledge of the rape. Here is a mother protecting her boyfriend at her child's expense."

State prosecutor Thami Makgoko believes the 35-year-old boyfriend influenced the mother not to testify.

People Opposing Women Abuse's Catherine Nyakato said the mother could be torn between the child and the boyfriend. She needed to be given emotional and psychological support because "she might be confused".

The aunt vehemently disagrees, she says the mother is "a drunkard, incapable of raising a child".

*Not her real name