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Crime

Gruesome child rape and murder trial in South Africa

Five men are due to appear in a South African court on Thursday charged with the rape and murder of two toddlers. Police fired rubber bullets to disperse an angry crowd calling for vigilante justice.

Protesters hold a placard with an identikit image, which according to local media, is a likeliness of a suspect, as they gather outside a local police station during a protest in Diepsloot October 18, 2013. Hundreds of South Africans burned tyres outside a township police station on Friday and demanded the handover for vigilante justice of a fifth suspect arrested for the rape and murder of two toddlers, a crime that has shocked the nation. The mutilated bodies of the two girls aged three and two were discovered in a public toilet in the Johannesburg township of Diepsloot on Tuesday, three days after they were reported missing. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CRIME LAW)

Protesters outside a police station in Diepsloot hold a placard with an identikit image believed to resemble a suspect

One man arrested on suspicion of raping and murdering two small girls in a Johannesburg slum has confessed. A spokesman for prosecutors said the man, in his late twenties, had appeared in court on two counts of murder, kidnapping and rape respectively.

The man was arrested on Friday (18.10.2013) after two mutilated bodies were discovered in a communal toilet cubicle in the Diepsloot township earlier in the week.

The baby girls, who were cousins, aged two and three years old, had been raped and strangled.

The man was detained after the arrest of four suspected accomplices. They have not confessed. All five, aged between 29 and 47, lived in Diepsloot and will appear in court on Thursday.

Diepsloot residents went on the rampage after the murders, blocking roads with burning tires and pelting police with rocks. Some of the residents gathered outside a police station demanding that a suspect be handed over for vigilante justice.

High murder rate

While the girls' funerals were taking place, reports were coming in of another baby found floating in a nearby stream. A few hours later, police reported that newly-born twins had been found in a bin bag at a refuse dump. One was rushed to hospital, the other was dead.

South African President Jacob Zuma arrives ahead of addressing editors at the SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) in Johannesburg June 24, 2013. South Africans appeared resigned on Monday to the inevitability of one day saying goodbye to former president Nelson Mandela after the 94-year-old anti-apartheid leader's condition in hospital deteriorated to critical.Madiba, as he is affectionately known, is revered among most of South Africa's 53 million people as the architect of the peaceful 1994 transition to multi-racial democracy after three centuries of white domination.REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: POLITICS HEALTH SOCIETY)

South African President Jacob Zuma has condemned the killings

In another incident at the weekend, the headless body of a 15 year old boy was found in a school yard near Cape Town. The head was later found in the yard of a teenage suspect's house.

South Africa has one of the highest murder rates in the world and official statistics say about 16,000 people are killed every year - on average, that's more than 40 a day.

South Africans Deutsche Welle spoke to were concerned about what was happening in their country.

Nhlanhla Ngobese, a 24 year old university student, told DW correspondent Subry Govender he did not have any children of his own at the moment, but could not see any child of his "grow up in this place with all these murders that are happening and the rapes."

One South African woman pedestrian in Durban DW talked to was shocked.

"It's just too much now. We're just acting like animals," she said.

Criminologist Keresha Chanderpaul told DW South Africans were becoming desensitized to crime in their country.

"If something happens, we just turn a blind eye to it, unless it happens to us - then we get worried. Other than that, if it happens to other people, we don't really care," she said.

DW.DE