JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday that a spate of violent attacks against women and children represented a national “crisis” as he visited the family of a three-year old girl who was raped and killed.
South Africa has one of the world’s highest rates of violent crime but a string of grisly murders of women and children has sparked widespread outrage, with Zuma’s visit underscoring the growing political significance of the issue.
“We as the citizens of this country must say enough is enough,” Zuma said in televised remarks after visiting the family of toddler Courtney Pieters, who went missing from her Cape Town home on May 4. Her body was found over a week later buried in a shallow grave.
“This is one of the saddest incidents I’ve come across. It’s a crisis in the country, the manner in which women and children are being killed,” Zuma said, adding that 19 children had been murdered so far this year in the Western Cape province which includes Cape Town.
Local media reported that a 40-year-old boarder in the child’s home had been arrested for her rape and murder.
Elsewhere, the bodies of four murdered women were discovered at the weekend in and around Soweto, the sprawling black township near Johannesburg, local media reported.
South Africa’s murder rate is 34 per 100,000 people, according to data released by police last year, almost seven times the rate in the United States.
(Reporting by Ed Stoddard)