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S. Africa drops baby rape charges

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Charges against six South African men accused of raping a nine-month-old baby have been dropped after DNA tests proved negative.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation reported that prosecutors decided to withdraw the case because there was insufficient evidence against the men.

The case of Baby Tshepang, allegedly raped after her 16-year-old-mother left her in the care of a friend last October, shocked the nation and led to angry protests countrywide.

Thousands marched in Cape Town following the alleged rape, with many calling for the death penalty for the six accused.

About 21,000 cases of child rape were reported to police in South Africa last year.

The attacks were fuelled by a myth that sex with a virgin will protect a man against AIDS or even cure him of the incurable disease that afflicts one in nine of the population.

One South African newspaper said the country was facing a state of emergency as a result of the assaults.


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