South African minister calls for tough sentence for rape accused

South Africa’s women’s minister has called for the toughest possible sentence for two men accused of raping and murdering a teenage girl, a crime that shocked a nation hardened by one of the world’s highest rates of sexual violence.

At a hearing yesterday in the sleepy town of Bredasdorp, 80 miles east of Cape Town, minister of women Lulu Xingwana hugged and offered condolences to the family of murdered Anene Booysen, 17, who was left to die on a building site on 1 February after being raped. Her stomach had been slit open down to her genitals.

“We are saying to the court today there must be no bail for these criminals and monsters,” Ms Xingwana told reporters.

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“We expect the toughest and the harshest sentence that can act as a deterrent.”

Her intervention follows widespread condemnation, including from president Jacob Zuma, of a crime that has brought attention to the appallingly high levels of violence against women and children in South Africa.

A crowd of about 100 people protested outside the magistrate’s court in Bredasdorp, carrying placards that said “Show no mercy to rapists” and “No bail to murderers”.

One of the protesters, Faraah September, said: “I strongly push that there should be no bail for these monsters. What would they do if this happened to any of their family members?”

The magistrate ordered the suspects to remain behind bars until 26 February when the bail application will be heard. They face a maximum life sentence if found guilty.

South Africa has the highest number of reported rapes per capita of any Interpol member country, with more than 64,500 in 2011-12 in a population of 
50 million.