A seven-year-old girl was raped in the restroom of a popular family restaurant, a South African police spokesman told CNN.
A 20-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incident, which happened on Saturday in Pretoria, Lungelo Dlamini, a spokesman for South African police said.
The accused was arrested at the restaurant and has been charged with rape and possession of drugs, Dlamini told CNN.
“A suspect has been arrested and has appeared in court on Tuesday over this incident. He remains in custody till his bail hearing,” Dlamini said.
He said he could not give further details, as the National Prosecuting Authority has taken over the case.
The girl had gone to the bathroom when the assailant grabbed her and raped her in the men’s restroom, according to local media reports.
Her mother alerted customers at the restaurant after hearing voices from the bathroom when she went looking for her daughter, according to the report.
The incident has caused outrage and anger in the country, coming amid other high-profile reports of violence against women in recent months.
In a separate case this week, a 17-year-old girl who had just given birth at a hospital was raped by a man posing as a doctor. Authorities said the incident happened at a hospital in the Eastern Cape province, according to local media.
A 23-year-old university student took her own life in August, two months after she reported that another student raped her on campus.
Rape and other forms of sexual violence against women is a serious problem in South Africa, according to government statistics.
According to estimates released in June by the national statistical service of South Africa, 138 out of every 100,000 women in the country were raped in 2016 and 2017.
“This figure is among the highest in the world. For this reason, some have labeled South Africa the ‘rape capital of the world,” it said.
South African women angered by the incident took to social media to ask the government to increase sentences for rape and other forms of sexual crime.
“The justice system in South Africa is too lenient towards inhuman crimes. Rape, Trafficking, child abuse, and murders should be taken with greater punishment,” Twitter user Evelyn Lobelo wrote.
Some said they no longer felt safe in the country.
“You can get raped anywhere in South Africa. Hospital, work, in your own home, in a Taxi/Uber/Taxify, school etc etc etc… You just hope and pray it doesn’t happen to you. Women fear for their lives every day in SA. Because even the men we trust can’t act right,” Tandolwethu Zizipho Dingana said in a tweet.
Many of the women commenting observed that the frequent incidents of rape have made South Africa a “dangerous place to raise female children.”
“South Africa has become a living horror movie. Abuse, rape, and murder have become a thing of a trending culture. It is painful, it is horrific and it is a terrible atmosphere for new and forthcoming generations to be born into. SA is a dangerous place to raise a female child in,” TloTlo Boom tweeted.