In a disturbing news from South Africa, a three-year-old child from Diepkloof, Soweto, was allegedly repeatedly beaten and raped by her teen mother’s boyfriend before she succumbed to her injuries last week.

The mother, 17, who is heavily pregnant, and her boyfriend are on the run after the death of the child on Thursday night.

Police have since launched a manhunt for the couple.

Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital spokesperson, Nkosiyethu Mazibuko said the baby was admitted at the hospital on Monday last week for sexual assault in view of genital and anal lacerations.

“The child had bruises on the neck also and was diagnosed with hypoxic brain injury and surgical emphysema. The patient was ventilated on admission and died  on Thursday evening,” explained Mazibuko.

Neighbours told local publication, SowetanLive how the baby was abused by the boyfriend under her mother’s watch. The names of the mother and the boyfriend are being withheld to protect the identity of the mother’s other child, who is one year old.

The boyfriend is not the father of the deceased or the one-year-old child. He is the father of the child the mother is carrying.

The now dead child was allegedly tortured,  beaten and repeatedly raped by her mother’s boyfriend before she died at Bara hospital.

The neighbours said they had witnessed the abuse of the child since early this year but the mother would make up stories when they asked about the toddler’s injuries.

Xolile Chamane, who is renting the house where the child stayed with the mother and the boyfriend, said the child had a broken arm a few months ago and the mother covered it up and said she fell while playing in the yard.

“We witnessed the most painful incidents with the child apart from that injury. Earlier this year, the baby had bruises on her upper body and later she was bleeding on her private parts while playing with other children. Her mother said she had piles and a constipation problem hence she was bleeding. But when we later asked the child she said her mom’s boyfriend was hurting her,” said a visibly disturbed Chamane.

Chamane said the mother left the child with the boyfriend most of the time as she went to drink and smoke drugs with friends.

“We drank with her too on weekends and we realised that she was very negligent of her children because we had to remind her to take care of her (the deceased) all the times,” Chamane said.

The grandmother of the child confirmed to SowetanLive the allegations of child abuse by the boyfriend and negligence by her daughter.

“My granddaughter told me that my daughter’s boyfriend was abusing her but I did not act because my daughter kept lying to me. At one stage my granddaughter had a fractured wrist and she told me that it was fractured by my daughter’s boyfriend and again my daughter defended her partner by lying. I think I failed my granddaughter by not taking action,” she said.

“I did not stay with them but every time she visited me she would have unexplained bruises but her mother always had an excuse that would brush the matter off.”

The grandmother said her daughter went as far as taking the blame for the bruises, lying to her that she hit the child with a belt or shoe to discipline her for constantly urinating on herself.

“I feel very bad right now for not having followed up when the child gave me the red flags. Right now the child is dead and her mother has vanished. I’m now left to answer questions of things I cannot account for,” she said.

The local ward counsellor, Peter Ndoni, said the community was eager to get justice for the child. “We are very hurt by what has happened from under our noses. We need to fight gender-based violence and the killing of women and children, but how do we do that when the mother shields the perpetrator?” asked Ndoni.

Yesterday, dozens of community members gathered at Mosiya Street to demand answers and they promised to help the police to trace the duo.

Police spokesperson Mavela Masondo said a case of rape and murder has been opened. “No arrests have been made, but that and investigations are continuing,” he said.

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