20/06/2006 22:48 - (SA)
Jackie Pienaar , Die Burger
Strand - A trailer in a parking bay in front of the magistrate's court here bore a brown coffin, a pole with a torn South African flag and a gallows with a hanged doll.
Next to the gallows was a placard: "I'm a murderer. I deserve the death penalty."
The sight made heads turn on Tuesday when nine men suspected of murdering Joy van Aarde, 78, of Gordon's Bay, appeared in court to apply for bail.
Van Aarde was killed with a meat mallet, apparently shortly before the same suspects attacked and robbed neighbours and also raped a pregnant woman in an orgy of violence.
About 170 people representing all facets of the community gathered behind the gallows and coffin and called for the re-introduction of the death penalty.
Photographs of murder victims
They also expressed their disgust with recent statements by Minister of Safety and Security Charles Nqakula.
"Doen iets of trap self Nqakula" (Do something or get out yourself, Nqakula), read one of the placards.
This was a reference to his statement that white people complaining about the crime situation should leave the country.
"Waar is ons veiligheid en sekuriteit?" (Where's our safety and security?), read another placard.
Photographs of recent victims were displayed to highlight the message.
"Joy van Aarde vermoor. Sy kan nie meer kla nie." (Joy van Aarde murdered. She can't complain any more) read the caption below her photo.
"Edwina moes die land verlaat" (Edwina had to leave the country), referred to two-year-old Edwina Williams who was shot dead.
Just next to it was a photograph of a smiling Megan Herselman, 49, the Cape Town journalist shot dead on a Johannesburg freeway last week.
Hooted in support
Numerous people stopped to photograph the gallows and the coffin.
Many others showed their support by hooting while driving past.
The gallows and coffin tableau was the handiwork of a Strand businessman, who asked to remain anonymous.
He said bitterly: "Someone had to do something. My children are overseas. They've said they're not coming back,"
Wailing sirens announced the arrival of the suspects from Pollsmoor Prison.
When the police van transporting the suspects, accompanied by three other police vans, turned into the road in front of the court, the protesters stormed closer to wave their placards.
"Shooting them dead will be the only thing that will help," shouted one woman following the police vans.
Among the protesters were Oloff Bergh, son of the murdered Van Aarde, and his wife Linde, retired Paarl town clerk Hennie Liebenberg, , former Paarl businessman Hennie van Romburgh, Strand taxi driver George Meyer and pensioners Cornelius and Ann Aspeling of Strand.
Nine suspects in leg-irons
Mrs Aspeling said: "We agree wholeheartedly with what's written on these placards. The death penalty will stop what's happening in this country."
The nine suspects - one from Guguletu and the others from Khayelitsha and all of them in leg-irons - made a brief appearance in the crowded court room.
Magistrate, S du Toit Malherbe postponed their bail application to June 28.
Bergh said the gallows would be there at the next court hearing again. He called on people to protest against crime on that day.