Power outage delays Vlakfontein murder accused bail applications

File photo of two men accused of the murder of seven people in Vlakfontein appeared in the Lenasia magistrate's court.
File photo of two men accused of the murder of seven people in Vlakfontein appeared in the Lenasia magistrate's court.
Image: Thulani Mbele

The bail applications of two men accused of killing seven family members in Vlakfontein last month was delayed on Tuesday due to power outage.

Fita Khupe, 61, and Ernest Mabaso, 27, are expected to appear in the Lenasia Magistrate's Court on seven counts of murder and theft. Mabaso also faces three additional charges of rape.

National Prosecuting Authority's spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said: “There is no electricity at the moment, we will discuss with the prosecutor and determine if we should postpone the matter."

Dozens of Vlakfontein community members gathered outside court in protest of bail applications. Ace Mokoenyane, a councillor in Vlakfontein, said they have submitted a petition against the release on bail of Khupe and Mabaso.

“We have submitted a petition containing 1300 signatures from Vlakfontein residents and neighbouring communities because we do not want these people released back into our communities,” said Mokoenyane.

During the pair’s previous appearance, Mabaso asked the court through his lawyer William Sekgatja if he could be moved from the Johannesburg Central police station’s holding cells because he had been receiving threats from his co-accused who is being held at the Johannesburg Correctional Facility, also known as Sun City.

“The issue is that of safety, your worship. He is saying that accused two is threatening him and that there are people he [accused two] is working with,” Sekgatja told the court when they appeared earlier this month.

Mabaso had previously indicated he would be abandoning his application for bail. However, he later opted to submit a formal application which led to the matter being postponed to Tuesday.

In their last court appearance Magistrate Maggie van der Merwe said the decision to postpone the matter was done to allow for the applications of the accused to be heard simultaneously.

“The state had prepared for accused two’s [Khupe] bail application. The state is not in a position to go through with both applications today. I also understand that accused two’s lawyer needs to obtain a statement made by accused one in order to prepare fully for the application.”

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