Man accused of Vlakfontein murders walks free

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JOHANNESBURG, June 7 – Fita Khupe, 61, the surviving Vlakfontein murder accused will be a free man after the charges against him were withdrawn in the Lenasia Magistrate’s Court on Friday.

The State withdrew the charges against Khupe, accused of killing seven members of a family because they did not have enough evidence to prove the case in court.

“I have been informed by the senior prosecutor that a decision has been made by the director of public prosecutions that all charges must be withdrawn,” Magistrate Maggie van der Merwe said during proceedings.

“All charges are then withdrawn against both accused number 1, in absentia, and 2 who is before the court. Unfortunately, the court cannot offer any explanation, it’s not a decision made by the court, but it is a decision made by the prosecution.”

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said: “It will be impossible to prove a case in court, the state has nothing left to take the case forward since Ernest Mabaso was dead.”

Mabaso, Khupe’s co-accused, was found dead in an apparent suicide in a Cape Town police holding-cell in January. Khupe tried to get the case against him dismissed on the grounds that the person who had implicated him in the crime was dead, meaning the prosecution would now rely on hearsay evidence of a dead man to prosecute him.

The pair were arrested and charged with the murders of seven members of the Khoza family. Their bodies were found at their family home in Vlakfontein, Johannesburg in October last year.

Some of the bodies of the dead family members were discovered in a locked bedroom in the house, while others were found in a locked room outside.

Khupe claimed to have no knowledge of the crime.

The late Mabaso, in an affidavit presented before the court before he took his life, described how members of the Khoza family were killed. He alleged that Khupe gave him a hammer, instructing him to strike each victim on the head twice.

He claimed to have been threatened by Khupe into carrying out the murders, and even after his arrest pleaded with the court to keep him separated from Khupe.

Khupe was denied bail in February this year after angry community members said he would not survive if he is released.

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

– African News Agency (ANA)