Vlakfontein murders - questions about blood on bedroom door
The bail application of the two men implicated in the killing of seven family members from Vlakfontein, south of Johannesburg, was delayed on Thursday because of a power cut at the Protea Magistrate’s Court.
Several cases heard before the matter were quickly postponed because of the cut.
The investigating officer in the case, Banele Ndlovu, was expected to return to the stand to complete his testimony.
In a bid to secure bail for his client, the lawyer of 61-year-old Fita Khupe emphasised that his client had not been in the country during the week that the family had been murdered. The lawyer said Khupe had not contacted the alleged mastermind of the crime. He said the bloodstains found in Khupe's bedroom were brought in by the killer.
Cross-examining Ndlovu, Gerhard Landman said there were inconsistencies in the testimony of the other accused, “Sibusiso Khoza” *. Landman said his conclusion was that Khoza was the only person present when the family was bludgeoned to death.
Khupe had been in a long-standing relationship with Mbali Khoza, who was among the seven women and children killed while "Sibusiso Khoza" had met the family recently, having claimed to be a long-lost relative. He lied to the family about his identity.
“When he was still carrying out the murders and taking the items from the deceased’s family, is there no possibility that he also went into Khupe’s bedroom, looking for things to steal, thus the bloodstains in [Khupe’s] room?” asked Landman.
“I cannot say how the bloodstains got there but we did find bloodstains at the door of his room,” Ndlovu said. As Khupe was not there, the bloodstains could have only been brought there by 'Khoza'.
“Therefore the only logical inference would be that he roamed around the house, looking for items to steal and that is how the blood ended up in his bedroom too,” he said.
As he spoke, “Khoza” shook his head.
The 27-year-old had earlier said he was too ill to follow the proceedings. His lawyer claimed that he had been collapsing and had aches and pains. A doctor, however, found that he was fit to continue.
Landman also questioned Ndlovu on the sand that the relatives were found buried under at their home.
Ndlovu had earlier said that some of their limbs were protruding from the sand. He suggested that this meant that other officers who had arrived earlier had possibly tampered with the scene.
“The only explanation was that the earlier police members who were present at the scene had removed the soil,” Landman said.
“I don’t believe so because my colleagues are aware that when they arrive at the scene, they are not allowed to touch the scene. Their statements also say nothing about removing the soil so that the bodies can be visible,” Ndlovu replied.
The bodies of the seven family members, which included three children, were found after neighbours complained of a stench coming from the house.
Khupe and “Khoza” face charges of premeditated murder. "Khoza" faces an additional charge of raping three of the women.
In an affidavit, he alleged that he was kidnapped, threatened and forced into committing the crime by Khupe and his associates. He alleged that the group hatched an elaborate plan to get him to infiltrate the Khoza household.
Despite his confession of how he struck their heads with hammers and suffocated some of them, he said that he intended pleading not guilty to the crime because it had been committed under duress.
Khupe has denied any involvement.
∗ Khoza is not the man’s surname. TimesLIVE is not identifying him because he has not yet pleaded to rape charges.