CAPE TOWN, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- The South African government said on Friday it wants the courts to mete out the toughest sentence for those who gang raped a teenage girl in a case that shocked the nation.
The victim, who was at 17, was gang raped and mutilated in an industrial area of Bredasdorp in the Western Cape last Saturday morning, and her body was found by police on Saturday evening. Two suspects have been arrested.
South Africans were outraged by the brutal crime. President Jacob Zuma and senior government officials have joined the chorus of condemnation.
"We have absolute confidence that the alleged rapists and murderers of Anene Booysen will face the full might of the law. It is important that perpetrators of abuse crimes should be put behind bars," the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities said in a statement distributed by the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS).
The department urged South African communities to stand together and help law enforcement agencies to stop crimes against women in the country, saying such incidents were a "painful reminder of the disregard for human life and human dignity".
"Many of these cases point to a deterioration of the moral fibre of our society. We urge members of our communities to join hands with government in order to help defeat the scourge of child and women abuse," the statement said.
Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana said earlier sentencing the suspects according to law would serves as a deterrent for future would-be rapist.
The toughest sentence will be life imprisonment since South Africa abolished the death penalty after apartheid was brought to an end in 1994.
Violent crimes against women and children have been on the rise in South Africa. According to the statistics provided by the Minister of Police, the combined figures of all sexual offences, including rape and indecent assault, indicate an upward trend of 2. 1 percent in 2010/2011 from 2009/2010.
Cases of murder of women increased by 5.6 percent and sexual offences against children increased by 2.6 percent during this period.
To curb the scourge, the government launched the National Council against Gender-Based Violence, led by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe in December last year.