Accused in Vlakfontein mass murders calls in sick
The case against the two men accused of killing of seven members of the Khoza family in Vlakfontein, south of Johannesburg, was postponed on Tuesday after one of them claimed to be ill.
The pair appeared in the Protea magistrate's court, where the lawyer for one of the men told the court that his client had been scheduled to see a doctor at the prison hospital. The ill man had initially lied to the victims by claiming to be their long-lost relative, stating his name as Sibusiso Khoza.
Khoza is not the man's surname. TimesLIVE will not identify the man because he has not yet pleaded to an additional rape charge.
Makau Sekgatja, the man's lawyer, told the court that his client had been ill for several days and that he was in severe pain. "I've been told that he has pains and has been collapsing. It is better for him to see a medical practitioner," said Sekgatja.
Gerhard Landman, the lawyer for the second accused, Fita Khupe, questioned whether "Khoza" was too ill to appear.
Sekgatja told the court that it was best that his client see a doctor so that future proceedings could continue uninterrupted.
The hearing was postponed to Wednesday.
"Khoza" and Khupe are charged with the premeditated murders of three women and four children whose decomposed bodies were found buried in shallow graves inside the Khoza property on October 29.
"Khoza's" face was racked in anguish and he rubbed his eyes when he walked out of the packed courtroom alongside his co-accused.
The investigating officer had been expected to give evidence.
Last week however, "Khoza" had handed in an affidavit to the court where he admitted to killing the seven by striking some of them with hammers, suffocating others and raping them.
Despite the confession, "Khoza" indicated that he intended to plead not guilty to the crimes, saying he was forced to commit them by people who had kidnapped and threatened him since 2015.
The 27-year-old, who claimed to have been a qualified teacher, said while doing his teaching practicals in the North West, he was drugged by his former landlord and other people, only to wake up in Cape Town.
While being kept in a dark room, he was told that there was a job for him to do in Johannesburg and that further instructions would be sent.
"They forced me into accepting the instructions and I ended up agreeing to that, as I feared for my own life. I then created a Facebook account with the name given to me and invited Sne and Nomfundo Khoza [two of the victims]. Only Sne accepted my friend request," his affidavit read.
He then started communicating with Sne and the conversation moved from Facebook to WhatsApp.
Eventually, he said, the family invited him to come and visit over the June 2018 holidays.
"The people in Cape Town then informed me that since they have now agreed to visit I should actually go to Johannesburg, visit them and kill the family. I refused to do so. They threatened me and I told them that I was just a teacher and have never killed anyone," his affidavit read.
He said that in a bid to escape committing the crime, he stole his captors' vehicle and fled. He alleged that the vehicle was reported stolen and he was stopped by police and arrested in the Eastern Cape.
"Khoza" claimed to have been sentenced to three years behind bars for driving a motor vehicle without the owner's consent. He claimed to have been released in June this year.
Upon his release, said Khoza, the same people made contact with him, alleging that they still wanted him to complete the task at hand.
They gave him money and told him to come to Vlakfontein where after several days, he claimed to have been called aside by his co-accused, Khupe, who said he knew why he was there.
Khupe, aged 61, was reportedly in a long-standing relationship with one of the Khoza women who was found murdered in the house.
"Khoza" said Khupe gave him exact instructions on how to kill the family, saying he was instructed to strike them twice on the head to ensure that the neighbours heard no screams.
He said following the deaths, Khupe had assisted him in cleaning the blood splatter in the house and had even given him money to buy chemicals to try and contain the smell of the rotting corpses.
He stated that Khupe had instructed him and watched as he raped one of the children before he had suffocated them to death.
"Khoza" said that after several days, the employer of one of the women he had killed became suspicious after she failed to turn up for work.
He then panicked and decided to run.
While the court had initially heard that "Khoza" was an illegal immigrant from Zimbabwe who was arrested near the border, in his affidavit he claimed to have been born and bred in Nelspruit and he claimed to have fled there after leaving the Khoza household.
"On my arrival at home, I was told that [my family] were informed by my previous landlady that I was killed in an accident and she later said I had gone to America and that a case of kidnapping had been opened," his affidavit continued.
Khupe has denied "Khoza's" allegations.
The case continues on Wednesday.