Women, Children and People with Disabilities Minister Lulu Xingwana was appalled by several recent “monstrous atrocities” against women and children, she said in a statement on Thursday.
She noted with “serious concern” the rape of the baby, and the rape of a four-year-old boy, allegedly by a 17-year-old.
“These acts can only be committed by very sick people,” she said.
The newborn was raped on Tuesday night, allegedly by a 24-year-old man believed to be her uncle.
Xingwana said the government would ensure people accused of rape were not given bail and received harsher sentences.
“These crimes will under no circumstances be tolerated and [are] totally unacceptable,” she said.
Democratic Alliance spokesman Mike Waters said South African women and children faced intolerably high levels of violence.
“We condemn this horrific act in the strongest terms possible. Our sincerest condolences go out to the family, friends and loves ones during this difficult time.”
Waters said campaigns such as the 16 Days of Activism were necessary and needed to be carried out every day of the year.
National Freedom Party leader Zanele KaMagwaza Msibi said such incidents were an indication that rape in society had taken a turn for the worse.
“In the wake of such incidents, one is tempted to call on the government to review its position on the death penalty as we need strong measures to stop this ongoing violence against women and children,” she said.
The Congress of SA Trade Unions expressed its dismay and said it was even more committed to join the campaign, not just for 16 days, but throughout the year.
“No culture, provocation, neglect or mental condition can be used to justify this perverse behaviour,” said spokesman Patrick Craven.
He said violence against women and children had permeated all levels of society.
“Such shocking incidents signify the extent of the moral decay of our society and the lack of respect for human rights and dignity,” he said.
Congress of the People spokesman Willie Madisha said the party had gone to Galeshewe to support the family and their relatives.
“What happened to the child is wrong, and as a result we call on police to act efficiently when dealing with such cases.”
Madisha said it wanted to mobilise residents to act against rape. The man accused of raping the baby appeared in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.
The case was postponed to December 12 for a formal bail application.