Cape Town - A 27-year-old man appeared in the Bellville Magistrates' Court, Cape Town, on Tuesday for allegedly raping a nine-year-old girl in Delft and setting her alight in a case that has shocked the Cape Flats.
Prosecutor Sarah Dowries said the case was postponed for “bail information”.
He would remain in custody until his next appearance on January 28.
She said the man would face charges of rape, sexual assault, abduction and attempted murder, and the state would oppose bail.
The National Prosecuting Authority said the man could not be identified as he had not yet pleaded.
Outraged Delft residents packed the court room and the passage outside, where they were at one point teargassed by policemen. People scattered down the passage, choking and clutching their shirts to their faces.
The nine-year-old victim is in the Red Cross Children's Hospital in a serious condition after the assault on Saturday night.
Kulsum Ismail, a convener of the local community watch, who was at the court, told Sapa the girl was undergoing treatment for severe burn wounds after the attacker allegedly poured fuel over her and set her alight.
“She begged him to stop. She asked him to forgive her for anything she had done to him,” said Ismail, who said the attacker knew the girl's family.
On Saturday night, the man was apprehended by community watch members, who spotted him walking with blood-stained clothes, and handed over to the police.
The girl's grandmother was at court, and told reporters her granddaughter had been on her way to her father's house when she was dragged into vegetation near the N2 and raped.
Ismail said the community had bayed for the attacker's blood and was angry with the community watch for handing him over to the police.
“They do not understand. What else can we do? We are not vigilantes.”
But she criticised the justice system for being too lenient on rapists.
“He should get the death sentence because he has taken a life. How will that girl ever recover? What kind of life has she got left?”
After the hearing, Delft residents resumed a protest outside the court, some holding up placard's proclaiming “No bail”.
Nosintha Stafa said she had come to support the victim's family.
“Tomorrow it could be one of our children,” she said.