Knysna - The case against the man alleged to have raped and murdered nine-year-old Rosaline Philander just outside Knysna last year, will be transferred to the high court.

The 32-year-old relative of the girl from Rheenendal – dressed in a tattered grey-striped shirt – briefly appeared in the Knysna District Court on Thursday.

The case was postponed until March 20 after the director of public prosecutions decided the case should be heard in the high court.

The man, who has not pleaded yet and cannot be named, also applied for legal aid on Thursday.

The Grade 2 Rheenendal Primary School pupil’s body was found in a wooded area outside Knysna on August 31 last year. Her throat had been slashed. An autopsy later revealed she had also been raped.

The children she had been playing with before she disappeared said the suspect approached her and offered her R10 and some fish and chips at Totties – a local store within walking distance from where she had been playing. They allegedly left together, but he was later seen without the little girl.

By then her father, Derrick Marneville, realised that his youngest child was missing and reported her disappearance to the Knysna police station.

A search party was organised and her body was found just before 9pm.

The brutal attack not only made headlines, but also sent shockwaves through the residents, who vowed that if the accused ever set foot in Rheenendal again, they would “tear him apart”.

The case has been postponed four times since the man’s arrest – an issue that has sparked criticism from the community.

Rheenendal councillor Magda Williams, who spoke on behalf of the community, recently said they were “being ignored when it came to swift justice”.

Garden Route Media