Peeking out of the rubbish is a piece of pink, lacy lingerie with a black bow, a condom box, and the cap from a bottle of liquor.
DURBAN – STANDING in the room where a 10-year-old girl was allegedly raped and kept as a sex slave is a harrowing experience.
Clothes, papers, food crumbs and junk have been dumped on the floor. Peeking out of the rubbish is a piece of pink, lacy lingerie with a black bow, a condom box, and the cap from a bottle of liquor.
It is in an informal settlement just outside Verulam, north of Durban. It was in this room that police believe a 43-year-old man allegedly performed sexual acts on his 10-year-old stepdaughter.
It is alleged that he had made her watch porn, and also used a vibrator on the child who had been under his care since the child’s mother died five years ago.
A neighbour said when the child escaped she told her that her stepfather said her mother’s family did not want her.
The man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the child, is facing charges including two counts of rape, two counts of sexual grooming of a child, sexual assault, and exposure of pornography to a child.
The incidents are alleged to have taken place between 2013 and 2018.
The room is a shack, situated among dozens of others atop a hill in a poverty-stricken area near Verulam and Ottawa.
The road leading up to these shacks is a single gravel path.
Illegal electrical connections lay bare. Residents carry their water in buckets, and stray dogs bite and scratch at fleas on their weakened bodies.
Residents said they had no idea what was taking place in that room.
On Thursday, just moments after the accused had made his appearance at the Verulam Family Court, the Sunday Tribune went back to the informal settlement with some of his neighbours, who had also been at court.
They said aside from the media, other people had also wanted to see the alleged “sex-slave room”.
One neighbour said he had seen lewd pictures on the accused’s cellphone.
“There were pictures of the girl in a g-string, pictures of him having sex with her and using all those things on her,” he said.
The cellphone, sex toys, lingerie and pornographic films have been confiscated by police to form a case against the accused.
Newspapers cover the windows of the shack. Standing inside the room, one can barely see outside, or be seen. A small, dirty toilet and a tap used as a shower are next to the room.
Those who ransacked the room in the wake of the man’s arrest had left it in chaos.
A mattress lies in the corner of the room, uprooted from its base. “There were pictures of him raping her on that same mattress,” the neighbour said.
Watch: This is where the alleged #VerulamRape happened. A neighbour who lived near the small shack said the accused cellphone contained images of the 10y/o child in lingerie outside the room where she was allegedly kept as a sex slave. @SundayTribuneSA @IOL pic.twitter.com/mDdpe96qSA
— Karinda Jagmohan (@Karinda_J) June 14, 2018
A pungent smell of filth lingered in the dark room.
A marshmallow packet lay on the floor, and next to it, a condom box. A workbook, allegedly belonging to the girl, lies on top of the mess. In it are drawings, one of them of a mermaid.
@Karinda_J on Twitter