Ernest Mabaso's dad hears of son's death on news

Ernest Mabaso was charged with the murder of seven people in Vlakfontein. He allegedly committed suicide.
Ernest Mabaso was charged with the murder of seven people in Vlakfontein. He allegedly committed suicide.
Image: Thulani Mbele

The father of the dead Vlakfontein murder accused has cried foul for not being formally notified of his son's death 10 days after he was allegedly found hanging in a holding cell.

Ernest Mabaso, 27, allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself with shoelaces in Cape Town on January 18.

Mabaso and his co-accused Fita Khupe, 61, face seven counts of murder for the killing of seven members of the Khoza family in Vlakfontein.

Yesterday, Mabaso's father Joseph told Sowetan that he was angered and hurt that police were yet to formally inform him of his son's death after he heard about it on the news last week Thursday.

"I found out on the day he was supposed to go back to court for his case that he was dead. I called the investigating officer and asked what happened to my son and he told me that they would be sending police officials to notify me."

Mabaso said the investigating officer told him that police would explain what happened to Ernest when they visited him. He said he had not spoken to his son since his arrest in October.

"He was scared when he called me and told me that he was arrested, but he didn't say why he was detained. We saw him on the news and that's when we found out that he was being accused of killing people," Mabaso said.

The 64-year-old from Nelspruit said he did not know when they would be able to receive his son's body and that they could not afford to transport it to Mpumalanga.

"They [police] took my son to Cape Town where he died. They must bring him back because he was in their custody."

Following news of Mabaso's death last week, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) confirmed that the cause of Mabaso's death was hanging.

"Investigators [from IPID] also attended the postmortem and the pathologist said the findings from the body suggest the cause of death to be hanging.

"This is also based on the scene and further assessment of the body," said spokesperson Moses Dlamini, who added that Mabaso's family was also allegedly present during the postmortem.

But allegations have since emerged that he had other injuries on his body, suggesting there may have been foul play.

"I know that foul play is being suspected. I heard about the details about his death and that it may not be suicide as it is reported. But I have not seen the postmortem report nor have I seen a copy of his death certificate," said Mabaso's lawyer, William Sekgatja.

Sowetan has reliably learnt from an insider who is privy to the investigation that Mabaso had injuries to his body, possibly suffered before or during his hanging in the police cell at the Cape Town police station.

The case resumes at the Protea magistrate's court today.

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