There was an outcry when the accused appeared without shackles, but police claim it is not standard procedure to cuff awaiting-trial prisoners. Picture: Goitsemang Tlhabye

Johannesburg - The man accused of raping a six-year-old girl at a Dros restaurant is facing charges of rape, assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, intimidation and possession of drugs.

It is claimed that he preyed on his victim when she was in the restaurant’s play area. He is alleged to have followed the girl when she went to the bathroom and subsequently raped her in one of the bathrooms.

Magistrate Mali Mokoena said that because an image of the accused had already circulated, she would allow pictures to be taken 15 minutes before court proceedings, and 15 minutes after the court had adjourned. Video recordings were not permitted.

The courtroom erupted in celebratory applause following the court order.

After a short adjournment, the man reappeared in court wearing a grey hoodie covering his head, which angered the packed courtroom.

People hurled insults at him and instructed him to take off his jacket. They also said he had ruined a little girl’s life.

And while support for the victim was in abundance, the accused cut a lonely figure, with no friends or family present in court.

Once court resumed, Du Plessis detailed to the court the injuries his client had, including an injury to his right earlobe. He said he required four stitches after he was injured by bystanders at the restaurant with a broken bottle. He also sustained cuts to his head.

According to Du Plessis, his client had also endured mistreatment from the police at the Silverton police station after his arrest.

Police allegedly ordered the accused to do push-ups and kicked him in the face with their boots. He was also hit with belts and slapped.

The matter was postponed to November 1.

Meanwhile, there was a public outcry when the accused appeared in court without shackles, but Gauteng police claim it is not standard procedure to cuff awaiting-trial prisoners when they appear in court.

People complained that when Duduzane Zuma appeared on charges of conspiracy to offer Mcebisi Jonas, then deputy minister of finance, a R600million bribe in 2015, he wore leg irons. #FeesMustFall student activist Mcebo Dlamini was also shackled during his case of public violence.

Police spokesperson Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said: “It is not a standard practice that all awaiting-trial prisoners should appear in court cuffed with leg irons. In certain circumstances, police use their discretion if they suspect that a prisoner may escape or pose a danger at court or to any members of the public.”

Dlamini didn’t say why they had decided not to shackle the accused.

Phindi Mjonondwane, spokesperson for the Gauteng National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), said the organisation did not decide whether or not to restrain an accused when they appeared in court.

“The NPA’s responsibility is to ensure that an accused is there in court, so we can prosecute to the best of our ability. We have nothing to do with putting people in restraints; that is the police’s duty because the accused was in their custody,” Mjonondwane said.

The Star