The Strand Magistrates’ Court was in shock as little Minentle Lekhakha’s mother Tandisiwe Lekhakha, 23, and grandmother Thelma Bomela, 50, came face to face with suspect Solanu Lantu, 35.
The five-year-old girl went missing at 2pm on Saturday afternoon while playing outside her home with friends, and her body was found under a bridge along Broadway Soek Street in the Nomzamo area in Strand on Sunday.
Authorities rushed to the scene after Thelma received a mysterious phone call from an unknown person alerting her of a child’s body under the bridge.
It is believed the little girl was also raped.
Yesterday Lantu, who made his first court appearance, abandoned his bail application.
He faced a packed courthouse with close to 200 people, most wearing yellow ANC T-shirts, crammed into the room.
Many carried placards asking that bail be denied and cops were forced to close the main gate.
Lantu did not make eye contact with anyone, and was dressed in an orange City of Cape Town jacket.
The only time he spoke was when he indicated he would be applying for Legal Aid.
The case was postponed to 3 August for further investigation.
Outside court, Tandisiwe and Thelma were overcome with tears and cried loudly.
Thelma collapsed and had to be carried to a car before an ambulance arrived, and paramedics treated her for shock.
An angry Neil de Beer, of the ANC in Helderberg, called for the death penalty to be reinstated, and called Lantu “a devil”.
“I am saying today, this murderer must never see the South African sun,” shouted De Beer.
“By God, I am saying to the judiciary, the biggest mistake we made when we came back from exile, was (to abolish) the death sentence because today, that man would hang by his neck for killing this child.
“I am asking Jacob Zuma today, what if this was your child, what if this was your mother, what if this was your woman, you would want to hang them?
He then added: “But we are a great legal society, we stand for the law and we pray that the law will rain on this devil man.”
Community leader and councillor Xolani Diniso claimed Lantu had confessed to the killing, but this was not confirmed by the court.
A petition was handed over to a senior member of the court who addressed the crowd, promising the case would get the “best attention”.