CAPE TOWN, South Africa – Baby rape and HIV/AIDS. These two terms conjure images of the very worst fears South Africans of all races and political persuasions have about the latest and perhaps darkest impulses being unleashed in this long-troubled country.
Today in South Africa, babies are being raped, infected and then dumped at garbage disposal sites around the nation at an alarming rate. Many babies with HIV/AIDS also are abandoned without being raped or otherwise abused.
Why is baby rape endemic in South Africa? It is fueled by a bizarre belief among many African black men that sex with a virgin – even a child or baby – can cure HIV/AIDS.
One brave white South African couple has stood in the gap to care for these abandoned and ill children, Phillip and Pat van Rensburg. They have turned their home into a hospital called “Little Angels.” At Little Angels the babies can find the love and care they need for a chance at life.
The Van Rensberg’s battle has been not only against savagery and ignorance. It also has meant taking on zoning laws – which caused them to lose their home for a time – the legal system, scared neighbors and even an apathetic public.
“Speaking out about baby rape and babies abandoned because they have HIV/AIDS must be done, for the very soul of our nation is at stake on this issue,” says one South African policewoman.
“Political correctness, Marxism, the Mandela myth, apartheid and race-blame and affirmative action be damned,” she said. “We have black babies being raped by their black male relatives, babies with AIDS being abandoned left and right and 99 percent of those caring for the babies after they are discarded are whites.”
Legacy of apartheid
The ruling ANC officially has called baby rape “a legacy of apartheid.” The abandonment of AIDS-infected babies in general has been blamed on poverty, apartheid, dissolution of the nuclear family, the economy and other factors.
However, South Africans of all races insist apartheid repressed such savagery. Many consider baby rape a spiritual disease, rooted in ignorance. Some claim it has gone on for decades, if not centuries in South Africa.
“Who can say for sure? No one was keeping records about it in the past,” says one retired South African school teacher who asked that her name not be used.
According to the latest report by South Africa’s Police Service, children are the victims of 41 percent of all rapes and attempted rapes reported in the country. Over 15 percent of all reported rapes are against children under 11, and another 26 percent against children 12 to 17. For the year 2000, some 58 children were raped or the victims of rape attempts in South Africa every single day.
The trend is worsening. Babies as young as only a few months old are being raped by relatives (in 83 percent of the cases) almost daily. Babies infected with AIDS also are being abandoned every day.
The Van Rensburgs became volunteer child welfare workers in December of 1997.
“We opened our family home to take care of abandoned and HIV babies,” Pat van Rensburg told WorldNetDaily.
“The children live with us in our homes day and night,” she said. “They stay with us for about six months, during which time most are tested for AIDS. Our aim is to offer a loving and caring family home environment for all the children placed with us.
“Some babies come to us from HIV-positive mothers who give them for adoption, and many are found abandoned – sadly most of these also test HIV-positive,” she said. “They are found in various places, such as public roads, bushes, shacks, dirtbins.”
Van Rensberg said that any of their babies who test HIV-negative can be adopted. Those with HIV remain at Little Angels.
“Although we care mainly for newborns and babies up to 1 year of age, we do sometimes have toddlers in emergency placement,” she said. “In four years, we have cared for 72 babies in total. Our home will always be a family home, with us as parents, with brothers and sisters and with the homely love and care that each child deserves. These are God’s children.”
Staff at Little Anglels includes six salaried live-in helpers and one social worker, Fiona Brophy. Little Angels also has about 60 volunteer helpers who assist at feed times and with bathing the babies. Visitors are never allowed into the nurseries and photos of the babies are forbidden.
Originally, Little Angels was set up in Tokai, a suburb of Cape Town, where the Van Resburgs own home was used as a makeshift hospital.
“Our home was small, but we managed space for three and one half nurseries, the half being part of our own main bedroom, which sometimes house four to six pre- or newborn babies,” Van Rensburg said.
“In April 2001, our home Little Angels became registered as a nonprofit organization,” she said. “This enabled us to take in babies from any of the welfare agencies. We moved to new premises in December of 2001, giving up much needed space for all our equipment and baby clothing.”
Zoning issues forced the Van Rensburgs to give up their home in Tokai and move to Kenilworth, another Cape Town suburb.
In Kenilworth, the family faced a legal attack when a group of neighbors appointed lawyers, Coulter van Gend and Kotze, and a letter of objection was sent to the Little Angels lawyer. The letter accused Little Angels of running an unregistered home in contravention of South Africa’s Child Care Act.
The suit was dismissed by the public prosecutor, according to Brophy.
But the Van Rensburgs received abusive calls from people who “didn’t want AIDS in their faces and near their children,” Brophy said.
Local police had to come to Little Angels at one point to speak with an angry neighbor who was verbally abusing volunteers at the gates of the home.
Kenilworth residents told WorldNetDaily they were concerned about mothers coming to visit their babies and the “huge environmental impact” the taxis that ferried them to and fro would have on their neighborhood.
Finding a new home for Little Angels was no easy task.
“This year, my husband Phillip was retrenched from his job at a bank,” Pat van Rensburg said. “We had problems with finding a home large enough for the needs of Little Angels.”
Phillip recalled “by chance” coming across an ideal house in Kenilworth, but the owner wanted 1.1 million rand, about $100,000.
“I wrote out a check for a deposit of 180,000 rand (about $18,000) and my wife almost fainted, because we could not afford it,” Phillip said.
But the couple was able to finance the new house – a 17-bedroom mansion with four bathrooms, five toilets, four staff rooms and parking for up to 15 cars – through a home loan and Phillip’s own retrenchment package. Phillip made the offer for the home when his car ran out of gas in front of a local auction.
“Prayer helps us through, and God looks after us,” Phillip said. ‘We live one day at a time and we see our work as a calling.”
The local mall and several area churches are taking up donations for Little Angels. South Africa’s adoption laws are currently being rewritten to cope with the 2 million black AIDS/HIV infected babies who are expected to be orphaned by the end of this decade, said South African Welfare Minister Zola Skweyiya in a recent speech to Parliament.
Brophy told WorldNetDaily that she has spent time living in a garbage dump in an attempt to rescue AIDS-infected babies, as well as to raise awareness on the issue.
“Little Angels has overcome many difficulties thus far,” she said. “Considering the strength of the American dollar, which now stands at 11 rand to one U.S. dollar, we hope we can raise donations from overseas.”