Three suspects, one believed to be a Walter Sisulu University student, appeared in a packed Libode Magistrate’s Court yesterday for the murder of 10-year-old Liyema Dutywa.
The girl’s body was found in a forest near Tsolo on Saturday.
A hundred people protested outside the court, including residents of Magcakini village, teachers and classmates at Magcakini Junior Secondary.
After making a brief appearance, the three accused – Fuzile Hanise, 30; Asanda Mbhele, 23; and Manduleli Majova, 27 – were remanded in custody until June 20, from where they will arrange for legal counsel after they told the court they would hire their own lawyers.
They face charges of kidnapping, murder, and possession of an illegal firearm and ammunition.
Magistrate Vuyisile Yaliwe told them they had a right to apply for bail.
In the crowd was Liyema’s best friend, Grade 5 pupil Linathi Godisa, 11, who said she was devastated by her friend’s death.
The youngster said she wanted the suspects to be denied bail.
Liyema’s grandmother Veliswa Dutywa, who sobbed uncontrollably outside the court, said they were battling to come to terms with her death.
“It’s not easy to accept that she is gone,” she said, adding the suspects should be denied bail.
Nyandeni local municipality chief whip Mcebisi Mthobela supported calls for the suspects to be denied bail as they were “not fit” to live among other human beings.
Police said Liyema had been found on Saturday after she disappeared from her school in Misty Mount on Friday. Police believe she was strangled before she was shot.