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Cape Town - A Cape Town man accused of raping a nine-year-old girl and setting her alight abandoned his bail application in the Bellville Magistrate's Court on Tuesday.
The 27-year-old man, wearing a torn grey jersey and army print pants, appeared before magistrate Cyril Kroutz and packed benches of concerned community members.
Deputy Women and Children's Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu was also in attendance.
Two minutes into the hearing, a sobbing woman had to be escorted from the courtroom.
The man's defence confirmed he was abandoning his application.
They made an application for solitary confinement at Goodwood Prison because he had been assaulted and had fresh wounds on his face.
“The request that the accused be kept in solitary confinement is granted. It seems his life is in danger,” Kroutz said after deliberation.
The magistrate ordered that the man be kept under medical observation.
The matter was postponed until March 27 for further investigation.
The crimes against the girl took place along the R300 highway in Delft a week ago.
The man faces charges of rape, sexual assault, abduction and attempted murder.
The National Prosecuting Authority said the man could not be identified as he had not yet pleaded.
Around 100 people protested outside the court before his appearance, blocking one lane of Landros street.
By the time the application had been abandoned, the crowd of mostly women had doubled.
They chanted “no bail” and carried posters stating: “We refuse to be silent about sexual violence” and “having sex with a child is a crime”.
A group of police kept an eye on the peaceful protest.
Priscilla Mcentee, chairwoman of the Delft Suburban community watch, said she had apprehended the man after seeing him walk down the road with blood on his white trousers.
“I said to him: 'I am not accusing you of being a rapist. I am not accusing you of being a murderer. The only thing I want is you must tell me why you are full of blood'.”
She said the man had told her he had been in a car accident.
Mcentee and a few other community watch members convinced a crowd of people not to assault him and he was kept in a garage until the police arrived.
On Tuesday, Red Cross Children's Hospital spokeswoman Angelique Jordaan said doctors were satisfied with the progress the child was making.
“She was moved from the intensive care unit yesterday (Monday) and continues to receive the necessary treatment for her burn wounds.” - Sapa