Cape Town - Angry protesters gathered outside the Khayelitsha Magistrate’s Court on Thursday morning warned that three men charged with gouging out the eyes of a young woman should be denied bail for their own safety.
Siyabulela Mrhawu, Mxolisi Rwanqa and Sekhobo Pule, charged with blinding a woman in Mandela Park before robbing her, were set to appear for a bail application on Thursday.
Mandela Park community leader Judy Ngange said it would be best for the community, and for the three men, if they were not granted bail as their safety was at stake.
Ngange said if they were released, they would quickly become victims of vigilante justice.
The anger of the community was evident in the about 50 people gathered at the court on Thursday morning.
They sang and danced, waving signs above their heads.
“No! No bail stay in jail,” read one poster. “Cruel b******s we don't need you,” read another.
The three men were arrested after police linked them to the brutal attack on Thembela Mjulenia, 23.
Mjulenia was walking home when she was allegedly grabbed by the trio late last month.
They allegedly choked and beat her, before gouging out her eyes. They also allegedly stole her earrings and cellphone.
During their previous appearance, the court heard Rwanqa had been convicted of rape in 2004.
The State said it was opposing bail. This was met with approval from the demonstrators outside.
Community leaders said the crime was severe because a defenceless young woman had been left disabled.
“She will be far more helpless than a blind person from birth since she will have to start from scratch to learn how to negotiate the world.”
They said they had had to quell rage in the neighbourhood.
“Releasing the accused on bail will make their lives unsafe.”
An added effect was the potential loss of confidence in justice, “leading to anarchy and communities taking the law into their own hands”, the statement concluded.
At the time of publication, the three accused had not yet appeared.