'If Vlakfontein murder accused gets bail‚ we can’t guarantee he'll live': community members

The community says there was no guarantee that murder accused Fita Khupe would not flee South Africa and never account for the crimes he stands accused of.
The community says there was no guarantee that murder accused Fita Khupe would not flee South Africa and never account for the crimes he stands accused of.
Image: Naledi Shange

The bail application of the man accused of the murder of seven Vlakfontein family members resumed in the Protea Magistrate's Court on Tuesday with pleas from the community to hold him in custody during the trial.

Community leader Rebecca Moloi took to the dock to say the community was against 61-year-old Fita Khupe being granted bail.

Moloi handed over a petition containing about 2‚000 signatures from residents who said they were tired of crimes against women and children going unpunished.

"We want the court to not give Khupe bail‚" said Moloi.

She said that with Khupe being a foreign national‚ there was no guarantee that he would not flee South Africa and never account for the crimes he stands accused of.

Khupe is originally from Mozambique but has spent decades in South Africa.

"Should this court grant him bail‚ the court will not be respecting the views of the majority and we can assure this court that applicant number two will not cross the borders of South Africa alive‚" warned Moloi‚ who was facing questions from Khupe’s lawyer Gerhard Landman.

Landman assured Moloi that the magistrate was experienced and would not free Khupe if be believed that there was a prima facie case against him.

He also questioned whether the community was calling for Khupe’s right to freedom to be ignored‚ to which Moloi replied: "Whatever rights Khupe’s are‚ we want to suppress his rights as he infringed the rights of his victims."

Community members in the packed court gallery murmured in agreement.

"We want the court to exercise what the majority wants. We are saying that we are tired of the deaths of women and children. The law cannot allow for innocent women and children to continue to die‚" added Moloi.

The court on Tuesday decided to continue with the bail application of Khupe following confirmation from the investigating officer that his co-accused‚ Ernest Mabaso‚ had died.

Although the court had not been furnished with Mabaso's death certificate‚ investigating officer Banele Ndlovu told the court that he had personally seen Mabaso’s body.

The 27-year-old is believed to have committed suicide by hanging while in a Cape Town police holding cell on January 19.

Police had transported Mabaso from the Krugersdorp prison‚ where he was initially held‚ to Cape Town‚ as they sought information that he said could help prove his case that Khupe was also involved in the murders.

During his bail application‚ Mabaso had given incriminating evidence against Khupe‚ claiming he had ordered the hit on the family.

Khupe‚ however‚ has denied any involvement.

The matter continues.

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