South Africa town mourns, seethes after death of teen rape victim

HUNDREDS of South Africans placed flowers and candles by a simple wooden cross in a building site on Friday where a dying 17-year-old gang rape victim was left to die, a murder that shocked a nation inured to sexual violence.

At the head of a procession that chanted "enough is enough" was Anene Booysen's distraught foster mother, Corlia Olivier, who recounted the moment last weekend that she saw her daughter dumped amid the gravel and grass, her stomach slit open down to her genitals.

"I heard her saying 'Mommy help me, Mommy help me' and I rushed over ... and just saw her guts hanging out," Olivier told reporters, tears welling up in her eyes. Booysen was found by security guards lying only a short distance from her house after partying at a nearby bar on Friday evening in the sleepy town of Bredasdorp, 130 km east of Cape Town. She later died in hospital.

The injuries to the 17-year-old were so horrific that nurses in the operating theatre, where doctors tried in vain to save her life, are undergoing trauma counselling.

The victim, however, lived long enough to identify a former 22-year-old boyfriend as one of her attackers. Police took him into custody. On Thursday, they arrested a 21-year-old suspect and on Friday a 23-year-old. All are to appear in court Monday.

President Jacob Zuma, who was acquitted on charges of raping the daughter of a family friend in 2005, expressed "shock and outrage", calling for the harshest possible sentences for the killers and a concerted campaign "to end this scourge in our society".

South Africa has the highest number of reported rapes per head of population of any Interpol member country.

Like the gangrape and murder of a 23-year-old student on a New Delhi bus last year, the incident has stirred rare outrage in a country where many people have become desensitised by some of the world's highest rates of sex crimes.

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