Zorena Jantze & Marthina Mutanga
WHAT started out as a merry event for two sisters, ages five and eight, after tagging along with their grandparents to a conservancy point to collect old age grants turned into a shocking event after a nine-year-old boy followed them when they went to relieve themselves and allegedly raped them.
The incident, which happened on Saturday at around 19:00 at Ozondati village, in Omatjete district, has since evoked mixed reactions throughout the nation mainly due to the young ages of both the suspect and the victims.
Police reported that the young suspect grabbed the 8-years-old, had sexual acts with her by inserting his penis into her vagina in the presence of her younger sister, before proceeding to rape the 5- year-old as well.
While many refuse to believe that a boy that young is capable of raping, the Zeraeua Traditional Authority has expounded on the circumstances that led up to the alleged rape incident and their wish to have the accused taken out of the custody of his parents.
Spokesperson of the Zeraeua Traditional Authority, Fabianus Uaseuapuani, states that he resides in the same community with the young suspect, adding that he often visited the boy’s family’s home.
Uaseuapuani stated that the accused resided with his unemployed single mother and his younger sister and grandmother and that the family existed in absolute poverty, which often led to the accused roaming around the neighbourhood begging for food.
Uaseuapuani added that the mother of the accused struggles with alcohol abuse and would at times take the children along on drinking excursions to nearby villages, where they would play around sheebeens while their mother drank.
According to Uaseuapuani, after the suspect was suspended from school for making unwanted sexual advances on other learners, his mother failed to take appropriate action to get her son professional help.
Uaseuapuani noted that the suspect has not been attending school since his suspension a month ago.
“As the traditional authority, we are going to take matters into their own hands, and refer the child to a social worker,” he said.
Giving a psychological perspective on the subject, Social Worker and Technical Director in the Office of the First Lady, Dr. Veronica Theron stated that rape cases committed by minors are quite common, but that they largely go unreported as people brush them off as “children’s playing.”
She, however, asserted that this is not normal behaviour for children to be exposed to adult behaviour.
“They share rooms with their parents where they may witness them having sex. Some are exposed to sexual acts by older children or adults who may be abusing them,” Theron explained.
She stated that each rape case involving a minor should be treated with its own merits as, in this case, the 9-year-old can be physically big.
“There is a definite need to do medically tests on the victims to assessed damage caused physically, as well as for other sexually transmitted diseases,” she said, adding that both suspect and victims should be treated for trauma.
“They all need the same amount of care and counselling. If a child is sexually abused for a prolonged period, they are likely to imitate these sexual acts. In instances of sexual molestation, minors can get eroticised or aroused and they may play out what they experienced. However, this behaviour is age inappropriate. Children can sometimes confuse love for sex and they sometimes do not understand that they are violating someone’s rights,” Theron explained.
The Namibian police has stated that due to the fact that the suspect is a minor, no arrest has been effected yet and that police investigations continue.