Cape Town - Seeing the face of the man who appeared in the Bellville Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday for allegedly raping and trying to kill a nine-year-old girl proved to be too much for the girl’s mother who had to be removed from the courtroom.
The mother, who cannot be named to protect her daughter’s identity, burst into tears when the man, Wanda Oliphant, 27, was led into the packed court house.
Oliphant is being charged with sexual assault, rape, abduction, and attempted murder. It is alleged that Oliphant abducted the nine-year-old girl at 8pm on Saturday. It is the State’s case that he then raped her and set her alight.
The girl is in a critical but stable condition at a city hospital with extensive burn wounds to her body.
By the time Oliphant reached the dock, proceedings had to be halted so that police could escort the woman out of the courtroom.
She was then taken to Karl Bremer Hospital.
EMS spokeswoman Angelique Jordaan said the woman would have to remain at the hospital for observation.
By late Tuesday, she could not yet say when she would be discharged.
The woman had attended the court case with the father of the girl and the child’s grandmother.
But, despite this, police issued a statement late on Tuesday that the “persons responsible for the child” would also be investigated for child neglect.
The girl, from Delft South, lived with her father, but would spend afternoons playing at her mother’s house a few streets away.
When she did not arrive at her dad’s house on Saturday evening, he did not think anything was wrong. She was found by family members, still alive, huddled on top of a pile of rocks in the bush beside the R300 on Sunday morning.
When court proceedings resumed, prosecutor Sarah Dowries put the charges to the court.
The court heard that Oliphant had sexually assaulted the girl, before tying her up, raping her and leaving the scene.
Oliphant kept his head bowed and seemed despondent as he mumbled his responses when he spoke to the magistrate.
At first, Oliphant said he wanted to represent himself, but after the magistrate advised him that it was too serious a case and that he should reconsider, Oliphant said he would accept a State lawyer.
The case was postponed, pending further bail information.
Oliphant will appear again in the Bellville Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday and will remain in custody.
After the brief appearance, a protest took place where protesters called for Oliphant not to be released on bail.
Xoliswa Makasi, a member of the ANC Women’s League Delft Division, said no evidence was needed to prove Oliphant’s guilt.
“The girl was able to talk, she said it was him. He must rot in jail. We don’t want him to get bail,” said Makasi.
The girl’s father stood alone, away from all the commotion. “I’m happy to see all these people standing by my daughter, but I am hurting. I do feel a bit better after today. Seeing the face of my daughter’s terrorist. I can see what she felt. He will go to jail,” he said.
Child rapid response co-ordinator Gadija Francis said even though she didn’t know the girl personally, she felt it was important to stand by the family.