Toddlers raped, murdered in crime-ridden township
CNN — Two little girls, full of life and loved by their families were kidnapped, raped and murdered.
This horrible incident happened in a crime-ridden Township in Johannesburg, South Africa.
But, it left a family and their community shattered, demanding answers.
The suspects in the girls' deaths appeared in court today.
"They were acting like twins, they were very very close," Thokozani said softly, in halting sentences, about what happened to her daughter, two-year-old Yonelisa, and three-year-old cousin, Zandile.
Thokozani asked that we not film her face, her family doesn't want to attract even more unwelcome attention.
Yonelisa was Thokozani's first and only child.
"She liked to sing, even if it was not perfect," she said.
Thokozani was just in the house and the girls were playing. She was checking on them every five minutes and then she realized they'd gone silent.
They disappeared. The community rallied, the police were alerted, all helping in the search. It's every parents worst nightmare, and especially here, were the struggle to protect the innocent is even greater
The sprawling densely populated township of Diepsloot on the outskirts of Johannesburg is one of the most violent places in the country.
A few days after the girls went missing their tiny, lifeless bodies were found in one of the public toilets.
The girls had been raped and murdered.
Thokozani cant bring herself to speak about it
"I am trying to be strong," she said.
Deipsloot residents protested outside of the courthouse as five suspects made a brief, routine appearance inside.
Arrests are rare and only six percent of rape cases lead to convictions.
But, rape itself is hardly an isolated incident. South Africa has one of the highest rates of sexual violence in the world, with an average of 55,000 reported cases a year, but many victims stay silent.
Jewkes has been researching South Africa's rape epidemic for two decades and she says the majority of known victims are adult women, but some 15 percent are children under the age of 11.
Outside of Thokozani's home a box is filled with the girls' shoes, she says she'll donate them but not yet, her pain is just too raw.
"When I am sleeping, she always next to me so when I think of that I feel like crying," the heartbroken mother added.
All she has left is a crumpled missing child poster and the thought that any little girl here could be next…