Residents of Vlakfontein protest outside Protea Magistrates Court alleged involvement in the death of a 41-year-old woman. Picture: Dimpho Maja/African News Agency(ANA)

Johannesburg - The 28-year-old murder suspect accused of concealing the body of his girlfriend in a shallow grave in his Vlakfontein shack finally appeared - five hours late - before the Protea Magistrates Court in Soweto on Tuesday.

Earlier in the morning court proceedings had to be delayed to allow the murder accused identified as Thokozani Samuel Sibeko to be checked by a doctor after he claimed he had been tortured overnight while in custody.  

Commenting on the matter outside the court, Gauteng Community and Safety MEC Faith Mazibuko said: "The information that we received from the station commander is that they had to send him for medical assessment in the morning. 

"As you know, suspects will allege that they were tortured at police stations trying to get information." 

The MEC said she was aware that the accused had "confessed" to the murder to community members.

Women wearing African National Congress T-shirts were out in numbers along with anti-femicide activists.

The yet-to-be identified woman was murdered two months ago and her corpse was found on Sunday buried in the suspect's shack in Vlakfontein, South of Johannesburg. The suspect allegedly led the police to the body before he was arrested.

When court proceedings finally got underway at 2pm, Magistrate David Mhango asked the accused if he wanted to engage a Legal Aid lawyer and he responded: "I'm the only person who knows what I did and I will therefore represent myself".

Asked if he knew how to make a formal bail application, Sibeko admitted that he had no idea how to do so. He eventually agreed to have a Legal Aid lawyer to represent him. 

The court heard that the accused, who is facing a charge of murder and another of defeating the ends of justice, has a previous conviction of assault.  

Magistrate Mhango said the suspect will remain in custody until court proceedings resume on August 20. 

After the court proceedings, Vlakfontein Ward Councilor Sithembiso Zungu said: "The proceedings went well even though it was postponed to August 20. We might be heading somewhere even though we feel that this man is a bit arrogant. But we're hopeful that the courts will do its best to make sure that he doesn't get bail,"

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane confirmed that the state would oppose Sibeko's bail. She, however, declined to comment on the outcome of the medical check Sibeko underwent in the morning.

"The matter has been remanded, this is for the accused to secure legal representation and for further investigation," said Mjonondwane. 

African News Agency (ANA)