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4 minors suspected in South Africa gang rape released on bail

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 10:06 AM EDT, Thu May 3, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The minors are among eight suspects in the gang rape of a teenage girl
  • The brutal act was videotaped and went viral on the Internet
  • The four were released on $67 bail
  • A court has determined that three of the four minors will face full prosecution

Johannesburg (CNN) -- Four minors accused in a brutal videotaped gang rape of a mentally disabled teenager were released on $67 bail Thursday, their lawyer said.

The boys fear for their safety and will not be returning to their homes because of anger in the community, lawyer William Karam told CNN.

A South African court has already determined that three of the four will face full prosecution.

The court has not made a ruling on how to prosecute the fourth minor suspect, a 13-year-old. South African law presumes children up to the age of 14 to be "criminally incapable."

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Prosecutor Carina Coetzee said the four minors were placed under house arrest, according to the South African Press Association.

The four are among eight suspects charged with kidnapping and raping the girl. Three are adult teenagers seen on the video and the other suspect is a 37-year-old man who was found with the victim.

The images of the assault of the 17-year-old girl, believed to be mentally ill, swept across the Internet last month 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 adult teenage suspects are due for a bail hearing June 20. The man is scheduled to appear in court Friday, court officials said.

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

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.

In Gauteng province, where Johannesburg is located, one in every five rapes is a gang rape, according to women's rights activist Lisa Vetten.

The mother of the 17-year-old has said this was not the first time her daughter was raped. She was raped in 2009 and 2010, and authorities did little to address the issue in the past, the mother 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.

CNN's Nkepile Mabuse contributed to this report.

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