Johan Kotze in the Modimolle Magistrates Court. He faces 17 charges in connection with an attack on his estranged wife and the murder of her son.

Graeme Hosken, Yolande du Preez and sapa

The man they call the “Modimolle Monster” appeared in court today facing charges of rape, assault and murder.

Johan Kotze, 50, appeared in the dock with a co-accused in connection with an horrific attack on his estranged wife and the murder of his stepson.

Meanwhile, police said they had arrested a third person in connection with the attack.

Colonel Mogale Ramatseba said the third person was arrested about 9am in Makapanstad, near Hammanskraal, north of Pretoria.

He would appear in court soon and his case would eventually be joined to that of Kotze and another man arrested in connection with the attack on the woman.

Police were confident they would catch a fourth person believed to have been involved, Ramatseba said.

Kotze and the co-accused, aged 42, made a brief appearance in the Modimolle Magistrate’s Court this morning and will remain in custody until their next appearance next month.

They face 17 charges which include murder, conspiracy to rape, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and kidnapping.

The case was postponed to February 10 for confirmation of legal aid representation and for further investigation.

Magistrate Hannes Stoffberg ordered the media not to publish pictures of Kotze’s co-accused or his name, because an identity parade still had to be held.

Kotze, dressed in a khaki shirt and blue jeans, held his head up as photographers took pictures of him, but his co-accused hid his face under a jacket.

A manhunt was launched for Kotze when he fled in a white Toyota Fortuner after allegedly forcing three men at gunpoint to gang-rape his estranged wife, and murdering his stepson at his home on January 4.

Kotze was arrested in the town on Wednesday and his co-accused in Makapanstad the same day.

From early this morning more than 300 people gathered outside the court, while streets were cordoned off, traffic was diverted and police were out in numbers to control the crowd. The group, which included members of the ANC Women’s League, business people and members of a motorcycle club, called for the protection of the rights of women.

Some of them waved posters demanding the return of the death penalty, while others wanted bail denied. One poster read: “Geen borg, geen genade vir die monster (no bail, no mercy for the monster).”

As Kotze arrived in an unmarked police car, they shouted: “Hope you die, dog” and “Hope you burn in hell”.

Some spat on and hit the car.

Women’s league members sang liberation songs.

Senzeni na? Senzeni na? (What have we done?),” they sang.

They were angry about what Kotze had allegedly done, said ANCWL Waterberg treasurer Joy Matshoge.

“We are very angry. We call on the court not to grant him bail.

“Violence has no colour or race, we are here to support the woman.

He is a devil,” she said.

Before court proceedings, Kotze sat in the dock with his hands clasped together, staring ahead.

His co-accused, a thinly-built man in a blue overall, sat beside him.

One of the protesters, Jean-Pierre Rheeders, said he hoped Kotze never saw daylight again.

“What he had done to his wife is unthinkable. He is really a monster.

“This affected everyone in town. His wife will never be the same,” he said.

Modimolle councillor Estha Ngubane said she was at court to protest for the rights of women and children.

“It is time for the death penalty to be brought back, to deal with the perpetrators of these crimes,” she said.

Local businessman Sadek Ravat said the crime had shattered the town, but he promised the business community would see to it that Kotze’s victim would want for nothing and would be looked after by the town.

Hester Rheeders, a victim of abuse, was also outside the court.

“It is time we stand together as a country and stop this abuse once and for all.”

When Kotze was arrested he did not resist, and reportedly started crying.

He had been living in his car in the bush about 2km outside Modimolle.