Charges against four of five men accused of kidnapping, raping and killing two toddlers in Diepsloot have been withdrawn.
Charges against four of five men accused of kidnapping, raping and killing two toddlers in Diepsloot were withdrawn in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court on Friday.
Magistrate Len Miller withdrew charges against four of the men, but a fifth man remains in custody.
The case was postponed to November 27 for further investigation.
State prosecutor Matric Lupondo said the evidence showed the men were not in Diepsloot at the time of the rape and murder of two-year-old Yonelisa Mali and her three-year-old cousin, Zandile Mali.
"The cellphone records also did not place them on the scene," said Lupondo.
DNA evidence also excluded the four men from the scene.
They were arrested after the two girls' bodies were discovered in a Diepsloot toilet on October 15 because the evidence at the time suggested otherwise.
"It was based, [the arrests], on the evidence available at the time, which was basically the evidence pointed to the rape and murder of the kids was near the residence they reside [in]," said Lupondo.
"There was no eyewitness or any evidence linking the accused one, two, three and four to the crime."
Therefore, the State could not charge the four men.
Lupondo told the court he had briefed the two girls' families and explained the reasons for the withdrawal of the charges.
Access to the courtroom was tightly controlled with guards posted at its two entrances and police present in the public gallery.
Media, family, supporters of the family and political party members filled the courtroom. Women wearing Agang T-shirts and uniformed ANC Women's League members were present in court.
The media were barred from taking photos, making recordings or taking notes on tablets, with only written note-taking permitted.
The fifth man faces two counts of murder, rape and kidnapping. He will also be charged with the September murder of toddler Anelisa Mkondo. Police are still investigating.
Four of the men appeared in court on October 18 and the case was postponed for them to apply for Legal Aid.
On October 21, the fifth man, aged 29, appeared in court.
He was arrested in Alexandra, Johannesburg, on October 18.
NPA spokesperson Medupi Simasiku said at the men's previous court appearance on October 24 that the fifth man arrested had confessed to committing the October 15 crimes.
After the murders were discovered, Diepsloot residents stoned cars and burnt tyres in the street outside the local police station in protest. – Sapa