The man accused of raping, stabbing and setting alight Gomolemo Legae appeared calm in the dock, only worried that his face was being caught by media cameras.
Sitting next to Karabo Bahurutshe (19) in the Mmabatho Magistrates’ Court in Mahikeng on Wednesday, was another man accused of rape, who also covered his face.
Both men sat waiting for their turn to appear before of a judge inside the packed courtroom where Legae’s family members sombrely sat.
During a break, women from the public gallery were seen screaming at the other rape accused, asking him why he had done it, to which he merely responded: “She is my children’s mother; it is my children’s mother they’re talking about.”
Back at Bahurutshe’s rape and murder case proceedings, Legae’s family had just returned from the graveyard where the 18-year-old, who sustained third-degree burns before succumbing to her injuries, had just been buried earlier today in her village of Seweding.
Her alleged killer was forced to drop the facecloth from his face as he took to the accused stand and had his rights read to him.
He was quick to abandon his bail application, saying through a Setswana-to-English court interpreter: “I don’t want to go out.”
Karabo Bahurutshe, the man accused of raping, stabbing and setting alight Gomolemo Legae. Picture: Rosetta Msimango
It was not clear what informed his decision, but the general mood was that the accused should not be released on bail.
Only the alleged killer knows why he chose to remain behind bars.
A rape charge was added to Bahurutshe’s charge sheet, which initially only comprised of murder.
It is alleged that in the early hours of Sunday he stabbed Legae multiple times not far from her house in Seweding, close to Bray Road in Mahikeng.
A family member told City Press that a passerby came across Legae lying in a pool of blood, while her alleged killer left her to go buy petrol at a nearby fuel station.
“Gomolemo told [the passerby] who had stabbed her … calling the person by his name ... The man called the police and an ambulance, and after some time when they did not arrive he asked another man to stand with Gomolemo so he could go to the main road and wait to direct the ambulance from there,” said Gadifele Mashetla, the deceased’s aunt.
“Suddenly he saw flames from a distance and came running, only to find Gomolemo in flames.”
Mahikeng community members braved the wet morning on Tuesday morning for the burial of Legae. Many of them expressed shock at the horrific manner in which she was killed. The family said they were forced to bury Legae just a few days after her killing owing to the state of her burns.
They added that they were leaving it all in the hands of the justice system to help them find closure. “We’re happy her killer was caught and we have confidence in the justice system,” Mashetla said.
Bahurutshe was remanded in prison, which is where he preferred to be after abandoning the opportunity to apply for bail.
He will be back in court on February 21, meanwhile investigations into the rape and murder case continue.