A group of angry Nellmapius residents protested outside the Mamelodi Magistrate’s Court last Tuesday demanding justice for the rape of a nine-year-old girl.
A 36-year-old suspect briefly appeared in court, but the case was postponed to 3 September for further investigation since the suspect could not give a proper address for a bail hearing.
The community also signed a petition demanding that bail not be granted.
Nellmapius extension 24 community representative Edward Sebokoboko said: “We came to court today to make sure that the suspect does not get away with the crime he committed.”
Residents expressed their frustration on the delay of the trial and that the case was “taking forever”. Sebokoboko further said it was believed the suspect might have connections within the police.
“The suspect was supposed to make his first appearance at court, but somehow the docket went missing,” said Sebokoboko.
Police spokesperson Constable Lethabo Mashiloane denied allegations of negligence by police.
“The docket never went missing. The case was postponed due to a Covid-19 case at the court,” said Mashiloane.
He said police are aware of some of the challenges detectives were facing since the announcement of lockdown.
In May, the suspect was apprehended by angry residents, beating him and torching his shack before handing him over to the police.
According to the girl’s mother, she noticed that her child was not acting normal on the day of the rape and she had money in her possession.
It is alleged that the suspect lured two girls into his room. He then raped one of them and gave them money to keep quiet.
The mother said she questioned her daughter about where she got the money. She checked and found bruises on her private parts.
She said she immediately informed the neighbours who sprang into action, apprehending the suspect.
“The community is angry because we complain about women abuse and gender-based violence almost every day and yet a neighbour known to the family commits such a crime,” said Sebokoboko.
“We want justice for the little girl and we signed a petition because we prefer that the suspect should remain in police custody until judgment day.”
Tiny Phahlane, a community member, said the court must take the case very seriously and not allow the suspect any bail.
“Our children are not safe and the community members, especially women,” said Phahlane.
She said it would best the suspect remain in police custody because “all hell will break out” should he be released.
“The government is failing because the family and the girl are still waiting to go for counselling,” said Phahlane.
The community vowed to continue supporting the victim’s family by attending each and every court appearance of the suspect until justice is done for the family.
This article first appeared on Rekord East and was republished with permission.