Ward councillor Angus McKenzie comforts the mother of the six-year-old girl who was raped. Picture: Daily Voice

Cape Town - Bonteheuwel residents have vowed to protect the family of a rape victim amid threats from local gangsters.

Residents gathered at Bishop Lavis Court on Friday as the man accused of raping his tenant’s six-year-old daughter appeared in court.

Jerome Petersen, 53, was arrested by Bishop Lavis police in July after he allegedly raped the child and paid her R5.

According to the victim’s mother, she caught Petersen in a locked bathroom with her daughter.

The girl’s family lives in a backyard dwelling behind Petersen’s house and the girl was sent to the main house to collect bathwater for her baby sister.

At a court appearance in September, the girl’s parents revealed they had received threats from gangsters who wanted Petersen to be released.

Petersen’s bail was denied in August following a petition by the community and Ward Councillor Angus McKenzie.

A grey-haired Petersen appeared briefly in court on Friday where he was informed his case would be postponed to 20 November as the prosecutor needed to conclude consultations with the victim.

The girl’s parents did not attend the court proceedings and no members of the gang could be seen.

However, a woman who claimed to be Petersen’s sister-in-law was present and protested when the matter was postponed.

“Dis nie reg, hoekom moet hy daar [in die tronk] wees? (This is not right, why must he be in prison?)” she said as she left the courtroom.

The girl’s family has subsequently moved out of Bonteheuwel.

McKenzie says: “The absence of the family at the most recent court appearance is noted and we want the family to know that we will be at every appearance to support them and will not allow gangsters to victimise the family.”