MASERU — Police have arrested a 40-year-old Lithoteng woman who allegedly eloped with her boyfriend, leaving her 12-year-old mentally ill daughter to suffer sexual abuse at the hands of a relative.
Described by neighbours as “sweet”, the young girl is alleged to have endured multiple rape episodes perpetrated by a 29-year-old cousin since February when her mother abandoned home to stay with her boyfriend in a nearby village.
The victim’s name and that of her mother have been withheld for ethical reasons.
Neighbours told the Lesotho Times that the girl has now been reduced to begging for food while her mother enjoyed her new life with her lover.
The cousin who stayed a fence away took advantage to repeatedly rape the minor, according to neighbours who spoke to the Lesotho Times during a visit to the village.
Police confirmed holding the woman.
Police say they are now looking for the cousin who is alleged to have disappeared after his alleged crime was discovered.
The woman appeared in court on Tuesday for neglecting her child under section 18 of the Children’s Protection Act.
A neighbour said the nanny, the woman had hired to care for the girl had often dumped the minor to go on her own escapades.
It is further alleged that even after being alerted to the abuse, the mother turned a deaf ear and continued to stay with her boyfriend forcing concerned neighbours to report the matter to the police.
“Neighbours told police that they realised in February that the young girl had been abused and they even reported to her mother who ignored the reports,” acting police spokesperson ‘Mantolo Mothibeli said.
The child remains in Lithoteng where she is in the care of an elder sister who only returned to the home after hearing about the issue.
Neighbours and a close relative told the Lesotho Times during a visit to the village on Monday how the young girl was reduced to begging for food from community members, while serving as a sex slave to the elder cousin who is now at large.
“She is a young and sweet girl who needs a caring parent. She told everyone how her cousin raped her. She even told her mother but still she ignored her daughter’s reports as she did not report the matter to the police,” said the neighbour.
Another neighbour who is familiar with the case added: “The poor girl went from house-to-house in the village asking for food because her mother did not provide any for her.
“There was a woman who was looking after her while her mother was away but she also did not take good care of her. Sometimes the girl would come at night saying she had nowhere to sleep because her house was locked and she did not have the keys.”