PRETORIA - Hundreds of activists were milling along Francis Baard Street, with some scuffling with security at the Pretoria Magistrate's Court as they tried to enter the packed court where a man accused of raping a seven-year-old girl in a Dros restaurant in Silverton appeared.
NotInMyNameSA secretary general Themba Masango led a crowd of activists, dressed in black, who were on the street adjacent to the court as the matter was heard before magistrate Mali Mokoena.
"We stood united to say not in my name. We stood together and said this guy cannot see the light of day ever again. Furthermore, we want to make sure that a charge of attempted murder needs to be added onto his charge sheet," said Masango.
"On November 1, we are coming back in our numbers again. We are hoping that our courts will deal with this matter speedily, so that they can protect a child from having to come and testify, thereby not putting them through secondary trauma."
Mokoena remanded the accused in custody and postponed the matter to 1 November for further investigations as there are still outstanding witness statements.
Masango said his civic society group was happy so far with the progress in the matter.
He said, however, NotInMyNameSA was disappointed that Minister of Women in the Presidency did not join the large crowd of South Africans from different political formations, and government officials picketing at court.
"We are happy that the case is moving on well. We just need to make sure a charge of attempted murder is added," he said.
"We are however disappointed that the minister of women and children did not show her face here with the rest of South Africans on the ground. Releasing statements from air-conditioned offices is not enough. We need to make sure the minister who is in charge of these situations must be seen on the ground, with the people, to inspire hope."
Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga, ANC Tshwane regional chairperson Kgosi Maepa and Gauteng MEC for Community Safety Sizakele Nkosi- Malobane sat in the public gallery, in the packed courtroom as the matter was heard.
Outside court, members of the ANC Women's League, the Economic Freedom Fighters, the Democratic Alliance, Black First Land First, and the African Democratic Change (ADeC) sang and danced together, calling for the court to pass harsher sentences on child molesters.
Police maintained a heavy presence in and outside the court, with the usually busy Francis Baard Street blocked off to traffic.
Spokesperson for the Tshwane Metro Police, Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba, said the protesters from different walks of life handled themselves well outside court.
"We are happy about the behaviour of the protesters. They conducted themselves in a good way and there were not a single incident reported to us till now. We, as the police, would like to applaud them," said Mahamba.
"We expect that if they will be present at the next appearance to continue with the same behaviour."
Hundreds of bikers arrived on the scene, revving their engines in support for victims of rape and molestation.
The matter was postponed to November 1 for further investigations.
African News Agency (ANA)