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Boys accused in South Africa gang rape will face full prosecution

By Nkepile Mabuse, CNN
April 25, 2012 -- Updated 1857 GMT (0257 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Seven suspects, ages 13 to 19, are applying for bail
  • Eight people have been arrested, accused of kidnapping and rape
  • The gang-rape video went viral and shocked South Africans
  • Mother says her daughter was raped in 2009 and 2010

Johannesburg (CNN) -- Three of four minors accused of taking part in a brutal videotaped gang rape of a teenager will face full prosecution, a spokesman for a South African court said Wednesday.

The boys appeared in court Wednesday -- along with three others who are not minors -- to apply for bail. The seven suspects are between the ages of 13 and 19.

A bail hearing will be held May 3 for the minors and June 20 for the adults, said the spokesman, Mthunzi Mhaga.

It is unlikely that the suspects, accused of a crime that has shocked many in South Africa, will be granted bail, officials have said.

An eighth suspect -- a man who was found with the victim -- is scheduled to appear in court on May 4, court officials said.

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The images of the assault of the 17-year-old girl, believed to be mentally ill, swept across the Internet last week and touched a nerve in South Africa.

The shocking footage shows the girl pleading for her attackers to stop, and it has some activists saying it is an example of the country's problem with rape.

The girl went missing on March 21. Police suspect she was kidnapped and turned into a sex slave.

The cell phone video of her gang rape surfaced and went viral among schoolchildren in Soweto, a vast township near Johannesburg.

The Daily Sun, a local tabloid, alerted police about the attack after a concerned mother whose daughter was watching the video handed it over to the newspaper.

Police embarked on a search for the girl and the people in the video.

Eight suspects have been arrested and charged with kidnapping and raping the teen. Seven of them were seen on the video; the other was a 37-year-old man found with the girl last week.

A woman is raped every 26 seconds in South Africa, according to local aid groups.

More than 60,000 cases of sexual assault were reported in the year to March 2011, down from 70,000 in 2008, police said.

Women's rights activist Lisa Vetten says in the province of Gauteng, where Johannesburg is located, one in every five rapes is a gang rape.

"Rape is a young man's crime," she said. "It's a bit of a performance for them, showing off to each other how macho they are. We need to teach our young men that you can be masculine in ways that do not involve violence and degrading women."

The mother of the 17-year-old has said this was not the first time her daughter has been raped.

She was raped in 2009 and 2010, and authorities have done little to address the issue in the past, the mother said.

"It's 2012 now, and I'm still waiting for DNA results," she said.

After the girl was found and as the news of the video emerged, the government placed her in a safe house -- a place where she can attend school and socialize in a secure environment.

"They are coming now because things have turned out this way," the mother said. "They shouldn't pretend as if they have been standing up for me. They never stood up for me."

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