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Wellness business owner campaigns for medical professionals to report incidences of child rape

Wellness business owner campaigns for medical professionals to report incidences of child rape
Kekeletso Khena. (Photo: Thom Pierce_The Actionists)

Social Actionist Kekeletso Khena is not only uplifting and equipping community members with key skills, she is also spearheading a campaign compelling medical professionals to report incidents of statutory rape.

Kekeletso Khena is deliberate about everything that she does. Every interaction and every gesture seems to be rooted in this question: “Is this a responsible and positive action for the people around me?”

Kekeletso is a co-owner of the the Scalp Clinic & Spa in Randfontein where she mentors and trains other women who want to one day run their own business. Her focus is to encourage and upskill them and then to support them in the early stages of their new venture. 

From the spar, she also sells her own range of beauty products that use locally sourced ingredients, uplifting local communities by encouraging them to grow and sell the products that she needs. Through every step of the process, she is thinking about the people who are affected and how she can add value to their lives whilst also creating a high-end, saleable product. 

But this is not why I am here to talk with Kekeletso. I am here to talk about her petition to hold professional workers legally accountable for reporting incidents of statutory rape

In August 2023 she noticed a surge of posts on social media about young girls getting pregnant in South Africa. There was outrage over the story of a 10-year-old in KZN followed by heated discussions and passionate comments, but it felt to her like nothing was actually being done to address the issue. 

“We are a country of outrage. We see something and are outraged for five minutes and nothing gets done about it.”

As a childhood rape survivor herself, Kekeletso decided that she could not sit on the sidelines and watch. She needed to raise her voice, create awareness and challenge the state to do something about it. 

She recognised that teenage pregnancy is usually made the problem of the girl and that they would often be blamed for allowing the crime to happen. Kekeletso passionately believes that this attitude needs to change and that, instead, we need to deal with the adults who are sexualising, abusing and raping children.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Children are our future: Why do we rape, abuse and kill them?

It is also of major concern for her that the health professionals who are the most likely to identify when a child has been raped are under no legal obligation to do anything about it. If anything, the stigma and complexity of the issue make it easier for them to turn a blind eye. 

As the first step in her campaign, Kekeletso has taken to to start a petition. Not because she thinks that a petition will, on its own, bring about the change that she wants to see, but because it will make her campaign more official, raise awareness and build a strong following. 

“It has allowed what I care about to not be about me. I have about 7,000 people who agree with what I am saying. When I call the Minister of Health I can do so as a concerned group, but if I go as myself it has no impact. It helps to give power and a voice to an issue.”

Kekeletso wants the Department of Health to make pregnancies of a minor a notifiable incident. She believes that it should be the obligation of every healthcare professional, from the doctor to the doula, to report and that they should be held legally accountable for doing so. 

The online petition provides the foundation for Kekeletso to push for a safer society for every girl. It is all part of her mission to look after everyone around her, a value that her father instilled in her from an early age. 

“I come from the school of thought that says we are for each other. I am born to be of service which means we need to show up fully every day.” DM

The Actionists was launched in early 2023 by photographer Thom Pierce. It consists of on-the-ground problem solvers, community activists, climate campaigners and human rights defenders who engage in direct action. They are people anyone can turn to in difficult circumstances: a growing community of people who care about the future of South Africa. Through a series of photographic stories, Pierce profiles these people. Through a website, discussion forum and social media, the aim is to provide ways for people to get involved.

Nominate Actionists in your circle at or email [email protected]


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Marijke Alblas says:

    I am a medical doctor and have been especially involved in abortion. I mostly did second trimester surgical abortions, since one year I am retired (I’ll be 80 this year).
    Of course I have seen young girls in the 23 years I worked in the different hospitals (I was the traveling abortion doctor), but mostly women were not so young and had children already. I think it was often problematic for the young girls to find help, they are usually scared to talk about the pregnancy and also scared to go to the clinic. Therefore when I saw them they were already in the second trimester (13 to 20 weeks). I know some were raped or at least had involuntary sex and I used to send them to the Thutuzela centre. But also regularly young girls told me they had a boyfriend, not much older then they were, they had consensual sex and I don’t think one can say that in a case like that this is a notifiable incident. A girl in a situation like this does not want this to be notified.

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