A video of a 17-year-old girl being gang raped spread by cell phones through South Africa on Wednesday, shocking a nation battling an epidemic of violence against women.
The girl was reported missing in late March and was apparently raped last week in the Johannesburg township of Soweto, police said.
Reporters from the tabloid Daily Sun brought the video to the attention of police, who found the girl on Wednesday and began arresting suspects.
“She was found with another man in his house,” Warrant Officer Kay Makhubele told the Sapa news agency.
“Obviously she is traumatised and we are going to take her to the doctor now,” he said.
The girl has the mental capacity of a four-year-old, according to the Eyewitness News website.
Watching the video is a crime under South Africa’s child pornography law.
The Star newspaper reported online that the video lasts 10 minutes and 33 seconds, showing her being raped by seven different males, as she screams: “You are forcing me, you are forcing me.”
The video’s spread has forced South Africa to confront its staggering incidence of rape. More than 56,000 cases were reported to police last year.
But the crime is often under-reported, like the case of the 17-year-old. A 2009 study by the government’s Medical Research Council revealed that only one in 25 rapes were reported to the police.
The same survey found more than one quarter of South African men admitted to raping a woman or girl.