THE community took to the streets to protest as a man (33) accused of raping and killing a 17-year-old Grade 11 pupil appeared at Nsuze Magistrate’s court last week.The suspect was arrested on March 17 and appeared at the Maphumulo court on March 19 before the matter was postponed to April 4. Brother of the deceased Melusi Ndlovu was among the people protesting outside the court. He told the Gazette that his sister, Amahle, had gone to a nearby river to wash her clothes when she was killed. “She left home at about 10.30 am. We then became suspicious after she had not come back from the river by 3pm. Other family members went to the river to look for her,” Ndlovu explained.The victim’s clothes and her cellphone were found in the bank of the river but Amahle was nowhere to be seen. Ndlovu said a search was initiated, but it was called off on Friday afternoon and resumed the following day. “Her naked body was found a few metres away from the river. Both her hands were tied behind her back with rope and it appeared that she had been strangled with a piece of cloth.“The family is still shocked and we demand that the law take its course. She was such a lovely girl and well-known in the community,” Ndlovu said.Amahle was a Grade 11 pupil from Nondenisa High. Members of the South African Democratic Teachers Union, pupils and family members protested outside the court on Thursday, April 4 to oppose bail. The protesters chanted songs and held up placards calling for an end to violence against women and children. Mayor of Ndwedwe Local Municipality Nkosinathi Chili thanked residents for supporting the Ndlovu family, saying: “It’s unfortunate that the incident happened during freedom month [April]. We want to put pressure on the justice system so that the suspect is sentenced to life imprisonment,” the mayor said. KZN Department of Education spokesperson Sihle Mlotshwa said: “It’s a very sad situation that such an abhorrent act occurred, and our prayers are with the pupil. We trust that justice will take its course.” Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane said a case of murder was opened at Nsuze police station for investigation after the victim was found. “[The suspect] appeared again today [April 4] and was remanded in custody until May 9 for bail application. “On March 16 at 7am, police received a complaint of a murder at eMadwaleni, Nomyele area and upon arrival at the scene they found the body of a 17-year-old woman. It is alleged that the deceased was strangled to death by the suspect,” Zwane said.