Presiding magistrate Aaron Mahumani had a tough day yesterday trying to call to order scores of curious onlookers who wanted to catch a glimpse of a man accused of the serial killings in Modimolle, Limpopo.
David Rannditsheni was making his first appearance for the numerous murders, rapes and indecent assaults he allegedly committed in the area between 2004 and 2008.
He was arrested on Friday at Lwamondo, outside Thohoyandou. He was not asked to plead and will appear in court again on July 11.
His arrest, according to provincial Police Commissioner Calvin Sengani, was the result of evidence gathered from DNA tests.
Forensic evidence allegedly linked him to 11 cases.
All in all, Rannditsheni was charged with 17 counts. Eight of the charges were for rape, seven for murder and two for indecent assault.
When he stepped into the courtroom yesterday escorted by a huge police contingent, relatives of the victims burst into tears.
Some of them even shouted, baying for his blood. Most members of the public clearly had a recollection of the person they described as a monster.
Every now and then Mahumani had to call people to order, ultimately threatening to charge those making a noise in the courtroom with contempt of court.
"Should anyone continue making noise, disrupting the proceedings of the court, I will make sure that that person is locked up," Mahumani said to a silent response.
The matter was postponed to July 11 for further police investigations.
Rannditsheni, 45, will remain in custody.
According to Renier van Rooyen, senior public prosecutor at the Modimolle magistrates' court, Rannditsheni had made a confession to a magistrate in a private room just before his court appearance.
Van Rooyen said more charges might be pressed against him pending further investigations.
He said Rannditsheni said he lived in Mandela village, near Phagameng in Modimolle.
Dorah Malete, who lost two of her children in 2005, said she hoped the law would be tough on him if he is found guilty.
Malete, 36, said she was seeing Rannditsheni for the first time in her life.
Outside the court yesterday scores of people were chanting revolutionary slogans that also called for the death penalty.
Among the protesters were women clad in ANC Women's League attire, and those wearing T-shirts bearing the name of the Musina Women's Network.