/ 7 January 2014

Brakpan rape, murder case postponed

The man accused of raping and killing his four-year-old niece appeared in the Brakpan Magistrate's Court on Tuesday.

Dressed in a striped black and grey T-shirt and grey tracksuit pants, the 23-year-old looked at his hands throughout proceedings.

The court was packed to capacity, with many of the supporters wearing pink T-shirts. Jasmin Lee Pretorius was wearing a pink shirt on the day she was killed. 

No phones, cameras, or tablet computers were allowed in the court. Before proceedings began, court orderlies evicted several men dressed in shorts from the room.

The blond-haired accused mumbled to magistrate Khatija Abba that he would like to apply for a state lawyer. His case was postponed to January 13 to give him time to do so.

Dozens of demonstrators, also in pink T-shirts, were gathered outside the court. Many of them called for him to be released to them so they could mete out justice. Wynard Kruger (11) was among a few children who had come to support the girl's family. He carried a board with the words in Afrikaans: "Bring back the death penalty. We seek justice for the kids, bring him out."

Scores of police officers, some on horseback, were outside the court. Women, Children and People with Disabilities Minister Lulu Xingwana's office said she would attend the man's bail hearing, where she would express concern about several recent crimes against children across the country, her department said in a statement.

The man was arrested after Pretorius was reported missing on Saturday December 28. He appeared in the Brakpan Magistrate's Court last Monday, and the case was postponed.

"A missing person's report was issued on Saturday morning and the police and the community started looking [for the girl]. We had to do our own investigation," police spokesperson Captain Tsekiso Mofokeng said at the time.

No confident story
Police then interviewed the family. "We identified that one of the family members did not give a confident story … he gave many versions."

Mofokeng said the man was charged with kidnapping. Later "he gave in and confessed" and helped police find the girl's body underneath a bed in her father's flat, on Voortrekker Street.

A postmortem was being conducted to determine what caused the death and whether there was sexual assault. 

Meanwhile, Eyewitness News reported last week Friday that the man was moved to a place of safety after death threats were made against him.

'Take care' of him
The girl's family said they received requests from prisoners asking if they could "take care" of the man, the radio news station reported. The grandfather of the girl said he was not ready to speak to or forgive the man, but could not allow the man to be killed. "They have a way of getting messages out and are sending messages asking if we want them to take him out," the grandfather said.

Eyewitness News also reported at the time that hundreds of people gathered at a Brakpan church for a memorial service for the girl.

Many bikers dressed in pink, ANC Women's League members, and police, including national commissioner Riah Phiyega, attended the memorial service.

Police on Friday directed queries related to the man being moved to the correctional services department. – Sapa