Pretoria - Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane has called on the people of Soweto to unite against crime and women abuse.
Speaking at a prayer for peace, healing and moral regeneration in Soweto on Sunday, the Premier urged residents to reclaim the streets and stand up to criminals.
The service was organised following the alleged rape of a 17-year-old teenager by seven males from Soweto. The males, aged between 14 and 20, were arrested last week and appeared in court on Thursday where their case was postponed for further investigation.
Police said the girl was reported missing by her mother weeks ago and was reportedly found on Wednesday at a man's house in Braamfischerville, Johannesburg. The man found with the teen was the eighth person arrested in connection with the crime.
Mokonyane appealed to parents to instil good values in their children, especially in boys.
"We must come together and deal with the demon of crime in our communities in the same way that all South Africans stood up against apartheid.
"...Let us liberate our streets by reclaiming them from criminals. Women in Gauteng should not lock themselves behind closed doors because they are afraid of men," she said.
The Premier called on people to protect vulnerable members of the community and to root out societal problems.
"Brothers and sisters, this is enough. Even animals do not do this. Any child is your child. If you give our children drugs and alcohol, you are the killing the nation," she added.
Mokonyane praised police for their swift work in arresting those allegedly involved in the rape of the teenager, but stressed that police and government departments needed to take their work more seriously.
"Government should be responsive to its people. When people come to our offices, let us listen to them. When people go to a police station, they go there because they have nowhere else to go. The law must take its course, police must do their work, prosecutors must prosecute and people who are found guilty of any crime should go to jail."
She pleaded with residents not to condemn the suspects' parents and to offer support to the victim's family.