The 20-year-old man accused of raping a seven-year-old girl at the Dros restaurant in Pretoria. Picture: Jonisayi Maromo/African News Agency (ANA)

Pretoria - The Tshwane regional African National Congress on Wednesday said it was “worried about a number of developments” in a rape case, in which a 20-year-old man is accused of raping a seven-year-old girl at a Dros restaurant.

"For us justice postponed is justice denied. We are also worried about a number of developments [regarding the matter]. They have changed the judge [magistrate] and they have now put a white judge. We don't understand why it would take so long ... at the last appearance, this man was said to undergo mental observation or psychiatric evaluation. It's been almost a month," said Tshwane caucus spokesperson Lesego Makhubela.

"Today we arrive in court and we are told that they could not secure a bed for him. There are many other mental institutions that they could have utilised to be able to evaluate this particular person. So we are not happy with what is happening because it seems as if our justice system is technically postponing this thing indefinitely."

The court case was previously presided over by magistrate Mali Mokoena. At the accused's last appearance at the Pretoria Magistrate's Court, on November 2, stand-in Magistrate Thandi Theledi presided over the matter as Mokoena was not present.

Even though the accused swung into court once again covered in a grey hoodie, tears kept streaming down his face for the duration of court proceedings.

On Wednesday, presiding Magistrate Ignatius du Preez postponed the case to January 15, after the State informed the court that the accused is number 14 on the list for a bed at Weskoppies Psychiatric hospital.

“There is a possibility that should a bed be available before the aforementioned date, the accused will appear in court,” Du Preez said.

To this end, and due to the public attention on the matter he requested political parties and stakeholders to provide the NPA with their contact details so they may be informed if the accused is to appear before the set date.

Du Preez said he fully understood the public interest around the matter and that steps would be taken to ensure all interested parties are notified if the matter is to return to court before January 15.

The accused faces charges of rape, possession of drugs, assault with intent to do bodily harm and intimidation.

He allegedly followed the little girl from the Dros restaurant's play area to the toilets where he allegedly raped her. The girl's mother allegedly caught him in the act after she went looking for her child.

The court has heard that the accused has mental issues, and has previously attempted suicide several times due to depression caused by bipolar disorder.

African News Agency (ANA) and Pretoria News