Dates of Vlakfontein murders disputed in court by accused's lawyer

Fita Khupe, right, and Ernest Mabaso stand accused of 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 stand accused of seven counts of murder and theft after they allegedly killed members of the Khoza family in Vlakfontein last month.
Image: TANKISO MAKHETHA

The lawyer representing one of the two men accused of killing seven family members in Vlakfontein poked holes in the confession statement that implicated his client.

Ernest Mabaso, 27, and Fita Khupe, 61, appeared in the Protea magistrate’s court yesterday where the pair is facing seven counts of murder and two counts of theft and robbery. Mabaso faces three additional counts of rape.

Khupe’s lawyer, Gerhard Langman,  cross-examined the investigating officer Sergeant Banele Nldovu regarding the contents of a confession made by Mabaso in which the 27-year-old alleged that he was forced to kill the seven members of the Khoza family.

While leading Ndlovu through his evidence, Langman compared Mabaso’s confession statement against the affidavit he submitted for his bail application.

“In his [Mabaso's] affidavit, the applicant claims to have attacked the first victim, Dudu, on October 25,” Langman said. He then read: “On the Thursday, Dudu came to the house first. I struck her with a hammer. Then Mbali and Siyabonga arrived and I also struck them with a hammer to their heads."  

He then asked Ndlovu: “If the first applicant [Mabaso] claims in his affidavit to have killed the three family members on October 25, why does the charge sheet indicate that Dudu was killed on the 22nd, while Mbali and Siyabonga were killed on 23rd?”

Ndlovu responded, saying the dates mentioned by Langman were used to try to determine when the family members went missing.

“Those were the last days people tried to contact them and could not reach them. That’s how how we concluded that those were the days they were killed, but even with that information, we are not certain."

In the affidavit, Mabaso claimed that Khupe was present during some of the killings, but Langman disputed this.

“I put it to you that my client [Khupe] was nowhere to be found when the murders happened. He was actually in Zimbabwe and could not have instructed or forced the first applicant [Mabaso] to do anything,” Langman argued.

He further pointed out that in Mabaso’s confession statement, he claimed to have been alone when he murdered the victims, but in his bail application affidavit, he claimed to have been in the company of Khupe.

Langman argued that the dates contained in Mabaso’s confession statement and affidavit, which implicated Khupe, were not consistent and therefore could not be relied upon.

The matter was rolled over to today for further cross-examination.

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