Duo back in court for Vlakfontein murders

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.
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.
Image: TANKISO MAKHETHA

The matter against two men accused of killing seven members of the Khoza family in Vlakfontein last month is expected to resume on Wednesday in the Lenasia Magistrate’s Court.

Fita Khupe, 61, and Ernest Mabaso, 27, appeared briefly on Tuesday and had their matter postponed due to a power outage outage.

The duo face seven counts of murder and charges of theft after bank cards belonging to the deceased were found in their possession. Mabaso also faces three additional charges of rape.

“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,” said Maggie van der Merwe on Tuesday, explaining why the matter cannot proceed.

Her sentiments were shared by prosecutor Tumi Maunye, who 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 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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