Power outage forces postponement of Vlakfontein murder accused bail application

Fita Khupe, right, and Ernest Mabaso appear in the Lenasia Magistrate’s Court on seven counts of murder and theft after they allegedly killed members of the Khoza family in Vlakfontein last month. Their bail application was moved to Wednesday.
Fita Khupe, right, and Ernest Mabaso appear in the Lenasia Magistrate’s Court on seven counts of murder and theft after they allegedly killed members of the Khoza family in Vlakfontein last month. Their bail application was moved to Wednesday.
Image: TANKISO MAKHETHA

The matter against two men accused of killing seven family members in Vlakfontein last month has been postponed to Wednesday due to a power outage.

Fita Khupe, 61, and Ernest Mabaso, 27, appeared briefly in the Lenasia Magistrate's Court on seven counts of murder after they allegedly killed and buried three women and four children of the Khoza family.

They also face charges of theft after bank cards belonging to the deceased were found in their possession. Mabaso faces three more counts of rape.

Magistrate Maggie van der Merwe said: “We have been waiting to see what is happening with regards to electricity. We’ve been sitting in the dark and it’s pointless attempting to proceed with this matter because the recording equipment is not working.”

Prosecutor Tumi Maunye told the court: “The problem won’t be fixed today. The electrician [from Midrand] said he might need to work overnight because there are certain parts he needs to obtain before he can start working. Ultimately, it’s of no use to keep everybody waiting."

Khupe and Mabaso, who sat on opposite ends in the dock, appeared nervous during court proceedings. It was revealed during their previous appearance that the accused were not in good terms, with the younger man saying Khupe had threatened him.

Mabaso had 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 threatened by his co-accused who is being held at the Johannesburg Correctional Facility, also known as Sun City.

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

Neighbours of the Vlakfontein family alleged that Khupe had been in a romantic relationship with one of the deceased found buried in a shallow grave in the family home. They had been dating for at least a decade. Mabaso was alleged to have introduced himself to the Khoza family under the false name of Sibusiso Khoza, telling them he was a long-lost relative.

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