Will Vlakfontein murder accused walk?
The Protea Magistrate's Court is on Monday expected to deliver its decision on whether or not to grant bail to the sole surviving suspect in the Vlakfontein family murder case.
The lawyer of 61-year-old Fita Khupe last week submitted that the state's case against his client had been weakened by the death of his co-accused, Ernest Mabaso.
The 27-year-old Mabaso allegedly committed suicide in police holding cells last month.
Although having confessed to carrying out the brutal murders of seven members of the Khoza household, which included three women and four children, Mabaso claimed that he had been forced to commit the crime by Khupe.
He had alleged that Khupe had plotted the entire murder, including Mabaso's infiltration of the Khoza family, and pretending to be a long-lost relative.
Gerhard Landman, for Khupe, alleged that this was now all hearsay evidence, which could not be proven following Mabaso's death.
He submitted that his client had a watertight alibi, as he was away in Zimbabwe when the first murders were allegedly committed.
Rebecca Moloi, who was a community leader, last week testified that locals had been angered by the murder of the Khoza family.
She submitted that there was no guarantee that Khupe, who had been in a longstanding relationship with one of the murdered Khoza women, would return to his home country alive, should he be granted bail.
Moloi handed in a petition, containing about 2,000 signatures from community members who were against Khupe's release.
The gruesome murder scene at the Khoza household in Vlakfontein, in the south of Johannesburg, was uncovered by police in October 2018 after neighbours complained of a stench coming from the yard.
The house was searched, leading to the discovery of the decomposing bodies, which had been covered in soil inside one of the bedrooms in the house, as well as in an outside room in the yard.
Khupe and Mabaso were arrested days after the bodies were found.
In their very first court appearance in November, Mabaso had requested that he be kept separately from Khupe, alleging that Khupe was threatening his life.
Khupe, who has remained composed during his court appearances, even amid the fury and insults of the public who had attended the proceedings, has not replied to Mabaso's accusations.
He has indicated that he intends to plead not guilty to the seven counts of premeditated murder.
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