MEC warns of harsher punishment for men who impregnate girls under 16 years old
December 25, 2019
KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: KWAZULU-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu has issued a stern warning against men who impregnate girls under the age of 16: they will be charged for statutory rape as part of new sweeping changes that will see tighter application of existing legislation.
MEC Simelane-Zulu, who describes statutory rape as a form of Gender-Based Violence, says that under the new dispensation, paying “reparations” for the “damage” caused to young pregnant girls will not absolve offenders against prosecution.
The MEC was speaking at Estcourt Hospital, Uthukela District, where she announced that 69 Christmas Day babies (31 boys and 38 girls) had been born at health facilities throughout the province since midnight.
The list includes:
· The first two Christmas babies who were born on the stroke of midnight at Queen Nandi Memorial Hospital, and at Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital;
· Twin girls who were born at Mahatma Gandhi (at 01:52, and at 02:01); and
· A baby girl who was born to a 14 year-old mother at Vryheid Hospital. The father is 18 years old.
Other younger Christmas Day mothers include a 16 year-old and an 18 year-old.
In congratulating the province's Christmas Day mothers, MEC Simelane-Zulu said: “We must indicate that we are worried about the ages of some of the mothers. The likelihood is that that 14 year-old mother could have been impregnated at the age of 13. That is statutory rape.
“As the Government of KwaZulu-Natal, we have taken a stand against Gender-Based Violence.
“We are under instruction from the Premier to implement relevant programmes in that regard. And we believe pregnancies such as these are a form of Gender-Based Violence. We are going to start implementing the law. The Department of Health, along with our counterparts at Social Development and SAPS, will have to come in and ensure that the perpetrators are apprehended. There’s just no way a 14 year-old could have consented to sex, regardless of what is being said.
“We do want to call on our communities to stop this tendency of accepting ‘damages’, because we know that in some areas, once a perpetrator realises their victim is pregnant, they suddenly come to the family and pay ‘reparations.’ That is against the law. Whether you’ve paid damages or not, it is against the law.
“We are going to start implementing the law fully, because we think we need to start curbing this. If we don’t start now, it means it’s going to continue. It is killing the fibre of our society. Can you imagine a 14 year-old falling pregnant? That destroys her life. So, we are implementing the law… not just because it’s the festive season, but for the rest of the time.
“Even if the father is 18 years old, as in this case, having sex with a 13 year-old is just deplorable. It is statutory rape. The law says anyone below 16 cannot consent to having sex.
“Men must understand that at that particular age, whether you say the child ‘agreed’ or not, it’s still rape. And you must be charged as a rapist. And we are going to push. Half the time, the people who impregnate girls below 16 are way older than them. They’re in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. They sometimes infect them with diseases. And we think that must come to an end, because it means we are breeding a culture of people who are going to be rapists.”
The MEC also thanked every healthcare professional and essential services staff member who is working during the festive season.