On Monday, more than 100 community members gathered outside the Mpophomeni Police Station and tried to break into the man’s holding cell.
“First they broke the main gate and then they blocked it with big rocks,” said Station Commander Mpumelelo Makhathini.
“Those who managed to get inside, broke some of the ceiling boards but we managed to prevent them from jumping into the holding cell where the suspect was,”said Makhathini.
According to the police, the man had recently been released from prison for a similar crime. It is alleged that the man had forced his way into the old woman’s home before raping her, and when she cried for help, he choked her. Her granddaughter heard the screams but it was too late.
“He then allegedly tried to strangle the granddaughter but luckily she survived,” said Makhathini.“He was in hiding all night and only came to the police station on Monday morning, escorted by his sister.” Community members protesting outside pelted the police station with rocks. Police officers tried to stop them and had to call Pieternaritzburg SAPS for back-up and to help quell the tension. “The situation got hectic: rubber bullets and teargas had to be used to disperse the crowd,” said Makhathini. “A case of public violence was opened but no one has been arrested.”
The man was taken to the Mountain Rise Police Station and will appear at Howick Magistrate’s Court this week on charges of rape and murder.
Some of the community members said they have had it with criminals doing as they please in the community. They said the suspect who allegedly was dating the victim’s granddaughter has been harassing the family. The granddaughter is said to have opened a case of harassment against him but Mpophomeni Police Station could not confirm this.
“She was still a strong woman for her age. She still walked from her home to the clinic for her pills every month,” said one of the neighbours who chose to remain anonymous. “She didn’t deserve to die this way, she was such a talkative and full-of-life person,”said one of the residents.