Hundreds of activists and demonstrators arrived at the Pretoria Magistrate's Court on Tuesday in support of the seven-year-old girl who was allegedly raped in the toilet of a Dros franchise in Silverton, Pretoria.
There were hundreds of demonstrators outside the courthouse, including many from #NotInMyNameSA and Bikers Against Child Abuse as well as from various political parties, all in support of the alleged victim.
As the 20-year-old accused has not yet pleaded to crimes allegedly perpetrated on September 22, South African law states he may not be named.
According to section 154(2b) of the Criminal Procedure Act: (b) No person shall at any stage before the appearance of an accused in a court upon any charge referred to in section 153(3) [which refers to criminal proceedings related to sexual offences charges] or at any stage after such appearance but before the accused has pleaded to the charge, publish in any manner whatever any information relating to the charge in question.
Although the case has been postponed to November, there was much going on outside from demonstrators who joined forces with activists in the fight against the rape of women and children.
Ahead of proceedings, Themba Masango, secretary general for #NotInMyNameSA, was vocal in his call for "no bail for the rapist," extracting cheers and applause from the crowd when he said, "Rapists must rot in jail, asijiki (Don't look back) today – he must not come out of here. We want justice now and harsh sentences for rapists."
Well known for their support of women and children in South Africa, the Bikers Against Child Abuse made a grand entrance too, arriving in convoy. Speaking to News24, leader Martins Antonio said, "We are not going to tolerate any child abuse in this country. Our message is very clear. We are here for the sake of our kids - we love our kids and we want them to feel free and safe in our country."
Also present at proceedings and representing Tshwane ANC, Lesego Makhubela said that, although he was pleased with the presiding magistrate's "firm" conduct "which instilled confidence that justice would be served", he expressed concern that the suspect was receiving "preferential treatment".
He told News24 that, "We are very disappointed in the preferential treatment that the perpetrator was given.
"I have attended a lot of court proceedings. This man was escorted out before the judge could even stand up. In the next hearing, this sort of thing should not happen because you cannot be given preferential treatment because you are a white perpetrator."
The accused is facing four charges including rape and assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm but both the civil rights groups and political parties are calling for the harsher charge of attempted murder.
Gauteng Economic Freedom Front (EFF) chairperson, Mandisa Mashego said, “We’re here to make sure that an attempted murder charge is added because it’s a child. It’s not rape, it’s murder.”
ANC Women’s League secretary general Meokgo Matuba was more direct with her call for legislation around rape to be changed. She said, “We’re calling for justice for this young girl and we’re calling for chemical castration.”