COURT ACTs strangely


Frank Maponya

Scores of people who had come to the Modimolle magistrate's court to attend the hearing of a serial murder suspect were left confused and angry on Friday.

They went to the court building as early as 8am, curiously waiting for the outcome of the case and to get a glimpse of the suspect.

But it was not to be.

The case was allegedly heard at about 7.30am, much earlier than court proceedings normally begin.

Among the spectators was Buti Manamela, outspoken national secretary of the Young Communist League.

He expressed disappointment in the way the case was handled.

"The justice system has shown without any doubt that it does not have the interests of the victims' families at heart," Manamela said outside the court.

He said that the investigating officer should have informed the families when exactly the case was going to be heard "rather than keeping quiet" .

The accused, David Rannditsheni, was making his second court appearance in connection with the multiple murders and rapes of children between 2004 and 2008.

His first appearance was on May 19, three days after he was arrested in what police described as a breakthrough.

Rannditsheni allegedly raped the children, strangled them and buried them in shallow graves in the mountains near Modimolle.

Rannditsheni, 45, faces 17 charges, including eight of rape, seven of murder and two of indecent assault.

According to a court official, who spoke on condition of anonymity on Friday, Rannditsheni had made a confession about two more bodies a day before his court appearance.

Because of this the matter had to be postponed to allow the police to investigate further as they follow up new information.

Rannditsheni is scheduled to appear in court again on September 26.

Some of the residents of Mandela village have confirmed knowing Rannditsheni for some time.

But they say that at no stage had they remotely suspected that he could be responsible for the killings in the area.