A pink sandal and the stench of death - inside the Vlakfontein house of horror
Behind the front door‚ amid the nauseating stench of death was a scene straight out of a horror movie.
“It was horrific‚” said 43-year-old mother of three Stephina Tshabuse. Beyond the dining room with its brown couches was a bedroom where heaps of sand covered decaying bodies in a murder that has shocked the country.
“We were the first people to discover [the bodies]. It was horrific. The bad smell‚ lots of blood‚ sand and everything… it felt like I was watching a horror movie‚” said Tshabuse at the house with a red roof in Vlakfontein‚ south of Johannesburg.
Sharp objects were used to murder seven family members – women and children - here‚ on Monday.
Jeyes Fluid was still not able to mask the overpowering smell of death in the air when Gauteng MEC for community safety Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane visited the house on Wednesday. Brooms‚ mops‚ buckets and cleaning products were scattered around the property as efforts continued to clean up the gruesome scene.
A single pink child’s sandal‚ partially covered by soil and flies‚ could be seen in one of the bedrooms.
One person‚ believed to be a boyfriend of one of the deceased‚ was taken in for questioning. Police are hoping that a second man‚ identified as Sibusiso Ernest Khoza‚ can help them with their investigation.
Authorities suspect the murders took place on October 19.
Tshabuse still could not believe what had happened. “I still don’t know why I didn’t notice anything‚ because (a tenant) was making ups and downs in the yard on Friday [October 19]‚ and kept on greeting me each time he saw me‚ which was odd. I should have noticed something‚ sooner‚” she said.
Tshabuse said she was fetched by a member of the community who insisted that they go and check on the Khoza family as one of them had failed to arrive at a meeting where she was expected.
Cedrick Shembe‚ 46‚ a relative of the victims‚ said he had been having sleepless nights since the gruesome discovery. He believed that the killer had planned what happened.
“I just wonder if (the killer) was alone. It just doesn’t make sense really‚” he said. “It was bad‚ really bad. We barely could recognise them. They did not deserve to die.”
The family had earlier welcomed a tenant into their home.
“He was a normal person‚ who liked the family‚ just like any other family member would do‚” said family member Ningi Khoza. Then she broke down in tears and asked to be excused. “I can’t do this [interviews] anymore‚ I am sorry.”
Nkosi-Malobane visited the house after being briefed on the investigation by police.
Burned mattresses‚ a white duvet soiled by blood and piles of sand – possibly carted inside with a wheelbarrow – were still in the house.
Community members came out in numbers to pledge their support and called for a satellite police station to be set up in the area.
Nkosi-Malobane said the case was being handled by a priority investigation unit of the provincial police. “We are confident that they will do a good job in ensuring that whoever is responsible for this will be arrested‚” said Malobane.