We have been working with the UK Open University to ensure a proper academic study grounded in substantial research, and that can be published; our aim in this is to try to establish some of the causes and maybe, in some small way, help find some solutions to the abuse of small children. We are co-funding this programme with the Open University.

In 2007 we appointed Kgauhelo, our student, and she has now begun her fieldwork in South Africa. We are all really excited about this programme and what will emerge.

Lesley Rudd
Chief Executive
the infant trust

Our researcher Kgauhelo BIOGRAPHY



There was loud shouting of slogans “Black power” coming from Merafe station in Soweto and these we heard from our school, Phenyo Combined School. It was the beginning of the biggest political uprisings in the history of South Africa, June 16 1976. Born in 1963 in Central Western Jabavu, I was thirteen years old and had no clue what was going on and this raised my political awareness.

During my school years in 1978, I worked at a confectionary in Oriental Plaza, Braamfontein where I was kicked on my bum whilst scrubbing the floors by the owner’s wife. I learned that our mothers, working as labourers, suffer in silence to earn a living to raise us. I vowed to be educated so that no one will ever get a chance to kick me again. I matriculated in 1981 in Soweto, Mapetla High School.

I qualified as a social worker in 1985. I got a job as a community development officer in a farm in Potgietersrus in 1987. Working as a social worker since 1989 to 1996 put me in the frontline where I dealt with child sexual abuse and threats from parents as I intervened. I enjoyed this field and as a result have given awareness talks in communities on the subject.

My pursuit for knowledge continued as I obtained two degrees in 1994 and 2000 (BA SS Hons and MA SS in Mental Health).

I continuously search for challenges in life and in 1996 I moved to work for the Non Profit Sector as a programme manager from 1997 to 2002 gaining a lot of research, management and finance skills as a rural development activist. I moved to London in 2004 to explore the world and learn further.

The dream I shared with my late father became a reality as I took the first steps in my journey as a PhD student with Open University in 2007 October. I plan to explore issues of Child Sexual Abuse on Preschool Children in South Africa. I choose Limpopo as my area of focus because I believe there is a need.

Supporting me on my journey is my husband and two wonderful sons.

Our project locations

Map of South Africa

We are not sending any more toys to South Africa. If you would like to donate then please contact the lovely people at:

We are proud and honoured that our work has been recognised by the UK Prime Minister, and that he has given Lesley his Point of Light award, stating
With the Infant Trust Lesley has empowered thousands of women across South Africa to protect and safeguard children in their communities. The education and training she has provided has helped to improve the lives of over 800,000 children, tackling the violence and abuse that affects too many of them in their early years. As we mark International Women’s Day this week I am delighted to recognise all that Lesley has done.”
You can find the full story at
Why are so many small children abused by male perpetrators in South Africa? Our researcher interviewed 27 perpetrators in prison in South Africa; all are in jail after being found guilty of some of the most terrible crimes against some of the most vulnerable children – some as young as a few days old. Those interviewed are all men aged between 16 years and 84 years old, and all have brutalised and raped at least one child. But the findings aren’t maybe what we might expect – it makes interesting reading.  We have been funding research into this for 5 years and it is finally finished and published .

Our flagship Caring for Crèches programme has reached into some of the poorest communities in five of the nine provinces in South Africa and we have crèche leaders everywhere clamouring for the training. We have now trained over 2,200 people and they in turn have already positively impacted on the lives of over 160,000 children … and will continue to help many hundreds more children for years to come