Residents and community activists walked out of the Queenstown magistrate’s court last week with a sense of relief after a man accused of killing a 13-year-old girl from Ilinge was refused bail.
The Rep reported (Man in court for child’s murder, October 23) that the half-naked body of a 13-year-old girl from Ilinge was found at a dumpsite on the outskirts of Pola Park in the early morning of October 5, after the deceased had attended the alleged perpetrator’s birthday party. A 28-year-old man linked to the incident was assaulted by outraged community members and later apprehended by the police. Komani residents led by gender -based violence activists were present during court proceedings as the accused appeared for a formal bail application.
During her judgement magistrate Linye Ngxishe indicated that the court would have to consider the seriousness of the case. “There is no doubt that these offences are serious and there is a public outcry. Gender-based violence is getting out of hand. Children and women are dying every day. The communities are relying on courts. If courts are turning a blind eye to these offences, it is clear that the community will take the law into their own hands. The court understands that the applicant is presumed innocent until proven guilty, but will have to look at the evidence. He testified that the deceased was following him (before she was found) but it was unclear what happened thereafter. This is not a trial court so there is no duty upon anyone to show beyond reasonable doubt that the applicant is guilty of any offence. It would be improper to challenge the evidence before court at this stage.”
She added that it was argued on behalf of the accused that he was willing to relocate to King William’s Town (KWT), but the address was not verified. “This court has no details of this address. The purpose of bail is to secure the attendance of the accused in court. At this stage it is not clear how the accused will come to court from KWT.”
Considering the public outcry Ngxishe said if the accused were to be released on bail, his life would be at risk. “This court will have to consider the evidence of the investigating officer that the deceased was found with blood at the scene, the accused was the last person seen with the deceased and there were items with blood found at the scene of the accused. Courts will be blamed if he were released and ended up being killed by community members. Justice will not be served. The intention is for an accused person to stand trial and prove whether he is guilty or innocent. Therefore the applicant is refused bail,” said Ngxishe.
The accused was remanded in custody and the case was postponed to November 30 for further investigation.
Speaking to The Rep outside the court room, the girl’s grandmother (who cannot be named) said she was happy with the decision. “He committed an awful offence and I hope he rots in jail. We do not sleep because of these culprits. We are tired of murderers who walk free. ”
Member of Nokulunga Victim Empowerment, Sandisiwe Mzamo, said as an organisation fighting against gender-based violence, they were pleased with the outcome of the bail application. “This shows that our fight is not unnoticed and it means that we are moving forward. People should learn to report cases of violence so they do not lead to such events.”
Ward committee member Nomsa Chanti added that there was a recent case where an elderly woman was bludgeoned with a heavy stone in Nomzamo, highlighting that it was a case that also needed to be investigated. “We are happy that he (accused) was refused bail because if he was granted bail we would have believed the justice system was failing.”