Humairaa Mayet | Image: SABC News | 23 November 2018
Fita Khupe (61) and Ernest Mabaso (27) were accused of murdering seven members of the Khoza family in Vlakfontein, south of Johannesburg last month. Following the accusations, Khupe and Mabaso face seven counts of murder as well as charges of theft, and Mabaso faces three rape charges.
On 29 October, seven bodies were found in various stages of decomposition, buried in shallow graves in the Khoza family home after neighbours reported a foul and rotten stench emitting from the house. The bodies of three women and four children were discovered, ranging between the ages of two and fifty, buried in shallow graves in the yard of their house. Sharp objects were used in the murders of all seven individuals, confirmed Gauteng community safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane, including the children.
According to neighbours of the family, Khupe was in a romantic relationship with one of the Khoza women. They had allegedly been dating for over a decade.
Mabaso, connected with the Khoza family over Facebook under the alias ‘Sibusiso Ernest Khoza,’ and claimed to be a long-lost family member. Mabaso is alleged to have found the Khoza family sometime between 2015 and 2017, and is said to have conducted extensive research on them. In July, he approached the family claiming to be the son of the late brother of Mbali and Dudu Khoza, who were subsequently murdered by Khupe and Mabaso.
The duo were found only days after the murder. Mabaso was arrested while attempting to cross the border to Zimbabwe and Khupe was traced and arrested in Dobsonville, Soweto.
Presently, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is said to be ‘disappointed’ by the postponement of Khupe and Mabaso’s bail application. The application was postponed due to a power outage which occurred at the Lenasia Magistrate’s Court, halting the proceedings. Despite the delay, the NPA claimed that the state has built an airtight case against the duo and the NPA’s Phindi Louw-Mjonondwane has stated that Khupe and Mabaso “are not suitable candidates for bail.”