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Friday, 26 July, 2002, 15:14 GMT 16:14 UK
Life for South Africa's baby rapist
David Potse in the courtroom
The courtroom was packed for Potse's trial
David Potse, 23, has been sentenced to life imprisonment after being found guilty of raping a nine-month-old baby last year.

The brutal attack on baby Tshepang sent shock waves across South Africa, highlighting the high levels of sexual violence against women and girls.

Earlier in the week, Potse's girlfriend told the court that she had seen him rape the girl, while DNA had linked him to the attack.

Six men were initially charged with the rape, in the Northern Cape town of Louisvale, but were released earlier this year when DNA tests proved negative.

Handing down the sentence at the Upington High Court, Judge Hennie la Kock said Potse deserved the death sentence.

This was abolished after the African National Congress came to power in 1994 but this case led to calls for its return.

Police first questioned Potse because he was the boyfriend of baby Tshepang's 16-year-old mother.

He was also sentenced to 18 years in prison for indecent assault.

Following the attack, Tshepang needed life-saving surgery following the ordeal but a surgeon from Kimberley hospital told the court that she had recovered well and would be able to have children when she is grown up.

However, her psychological state was not assessed.


Potse's girlfriend, Lya Booysen, told the court that he used to beat her up and abuse her.

She collapsed in tears after saying that she had initially been too afraid to tell police what she had seen.

Potse said he was not in Louisvale on the night of the attack but the judge dismissed his story.

Baby Tshepang was attacked after her mother, who was also going out with Potse at the time, went out shopping.

When she returned to her house, she found the infant covered in blood. She had been raped and sodomised.

Township youngsters are among the most vulnerable

Tshepang is a Zulu name given to the baby by hospital staff. It means "have hope".

When news of the rape first came to light, it triggered protests across the country.

The case was the latest in a series of rapes of baby girls which left South Africans reeling with horror.

About 21,000 cases of child rape were reported to police in South Africa last year.

Children under 11 are the victims in 15% of all rapes in South Africa, according to police statistics.

Convictions are secured in just 9% of all rape cases.

The attacks are fuelled by a widespread rumour that having sex with a virgin cures Aids, which reportedly affects one in nine South Africans.

Traditional healers, or witchdoctors, are blamed for spreading this idea, and encouraging child rape.

The BBC's Carolyn Dempster in Johannesburg says that South African women are statistically more likely to be raped than to learn to read.

The BBC's Barnaby Phillips
"Tshepang means 'full of hope' - the name given to her by the nurses"

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