Galeshewe community members protest outside magistrate’s court, oppose bail in two GBV-related cases.
COMMUNITY members from Galeshewe protested peacefully in front of the local magistrate’s court on Thursday to oppose bail for two 31-year-old accused who are facing charges related to gender-based violence (GBV).
The residents, who are from Ward 18 and Ward 13, do not want the accused to be allowed back into the community as they fear for the safety of women in the community due to the nature of the charges that the accused are facing.
One of the accused (Number One) appeared in court on charges of assault and attempted murder, while the other 31-year-old accused faces a murder charge in an unrelated case.
Accused Number One’s bail appearance had previously been postponed from April 23, following his arrest on April 21 in connection with the assault with a screwdriver of a 30-year-old woman and her 73-year-old mother at their home in Mtshaza Street, Galeshewe.
Both women suffered stab wounds during the incident on April 19.
Family members said that the elderly woman had been rushed to Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital (RMSH) for medical treatment following the incident.
The accused was reportedly saved from an angry mob and handed over to the Galeshewe police, who took him to RMSH.
He reportedly escaped from RMSH while under police watch, but was rearrested later on the same day.
On Thursday, Accused Number One abandoned his bail bid in the Galeshewe Magistrate’s Court and he will remain in custody until his next court appearance on May 27.
Residents in Mtshaza Street and the surrounding area have called for his shack to be demolished because they fear for the safety of the elderly, women and children in the community.
They have also accused their ward councillor of “turning a blind eye” and of failing to go and check on how the elderly victim is doing.
They were angry that the councillor apparently refused to give “permission” for the shack to be demolished.
The councillor on Thursday said that he refused to be “affiliated” with the community’s desire to demolish the suspect’s shack and urged them not to take the law into their own hands.
“Demolishing his shack would be denying the accused the right to have his own property,” he said. “I told the community to open a case at the police station and let the law take its course.”
Family members meanwhile indicated that the elderly woman remains traumatised following the incident.
They called on the Premier’s Office “to activate the gender-based violence team to intervene in the escalating cases in Galeshewe”.
A spokesperson for the family of the elderly woman, Martin Oliphant, pointed out yesterday that the woman had been extremely traumatised by the news that the suspect had escaped from the hospital.
“The police came to inform us that the victims had to go and identify the suspect at the police cells after he had escaped from the hospital,” Oliphant said. “My mom has been sleeping with the lights on because she fears that the suspect intends to finish them off.
“This will be the worst Mother’s Day for my mother, regardless of the fact that she received counselling.
“The safety of our parents should be prioritised,” stressed Oliphant.
A community member, Bisho Thezela, said that they oppose bail “because the rights of women and the elderly are being violated”.
“They were attacked while they were inside their bedroom, on their bed. The sad part is that the elderly woman was stabbed on the upper body,” said Thezela.
The community is also opposing bail for a second accused, who will be making a second bail application in the matter relating to the murder of Abigail van Nel, who was killed on April 27 in Scandal informal settlement.
The accused reportedly handed himself over to the Galeshewe police on the same day of the incident.
Bail was postponed to Friday.
The Frances Baard regional secretary of the EFF pointed out that the number of GBV cases had increased in the Frances Baard District.
She called on the premier to dispatch the GBV desk as soon as possible.
“Our government and the ward councillors are not coming to the party,” she said.
The Galeshewe police on Thursday failed to respond to media enquiries.