- A 38-year-old man arrested in connection with the murder of his 15-year-old "girlfriend" has appeared in court.
- Thando Bhayibhile is charged with the murder of Yonela Nonkeneza.
- Angry community members protested outside the court and called for Bhayibhile to be denied bail.
A 38-year-old Eastern Cape man who was arrested for the murder of his 15-year-old "girlfriend" briefly appeared in the Zwelitsha Magistrate's Court on Monday.
Thando Bhayibhile is accused of the murder of Yonela Nonkeneza.
According to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the case was postponed to 8 April.
Nonkeneza's body was exhumed on 31 March from a grave that was dug under the accused's bed in Qawukeni Village, outside Qonce.
The discovery of the body brought to an end a three-day search for the teen, who had gone missing on 28 March.
Hours later, local police arrested Bhayibhile near Lower Mthombe.
On Monday, angry residents from Qawukeni protested outside the court against Bhayibhile's release on bail.
Ngqushwa Local Municipality Ward 3 councillor, Bulela Ntabeni, was among the protesters.
Ntabeni said: "We went to the court as men to support women to say: 'Not in our name.' We condemn gender-based violence. This incident had horrified the community, so we want to send a message to the magistrate, which is no bail. The community cannot live with someone like that amongst us. He belongs in prison."
Nonkeneza's sister, Nontombazana Sofolo, claimed Bhayibhile and Nonkeneza were involved in a romantic relationship. She claimed prior to the incident, the two had a quarrel over Bhayibhile's missing R500 and Bhayibhile accused Nonkeneza of stealing the money. Sofolo said that when she heard about the money conflict, she intervened and begged him not to harm Nonkeneza, promising to pay him back in instalments on her behalf.
The sister added that she hoped the discovery of Nonkeneza's body would bring the family closure.
She said that when Yonela started dating Bhayibhile, she barely stayed at home.
A respected leader in Qawukeni, Freeman Gqatso, previously told News24 that said Bhayibhile was a well-known criminal who spent more time in prison than he did outside of prison.
He said Nonkeneza had been warned to stay away from him.
The incident sent shockwaves across the Eastern Cape and sparked widespread condemnation.