FEATURE: Mystery murders at house number 4192: Neighbours demand answers after Vlakfontein killings

2019-01-26 06:56
The house where the decomposed  bodies of seven family members were discovered in Vlakfontein. (News24)

The house where the decomposed bodies of seven family members were discovered in Vlakfontein. (News24)

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House number 4192 – with its unfinished paint job – cuts a lonely figure on Ibis Crescent in Vlakfontein, south of Johannesburg.

The house was home to seven members of the Khoza family who were brutally murdered on October 29, 2018.

Ernest Vusi Mabaso, 27, and Fita Khupe, 61, were arrested and charged for the murders.

The two were described as men who were loved and trusted by the family.

READ: Bodies of 4 children, 3 women found under piles of sand in Joburg house

The gates to the house remain chained while a wheelbarrow stands between the main house, where some of the bodies were found, and the outside rooms.

Mabaso's suicide in a prison cell in Cape Town last week has added more questions to the gruesome mystery, particularly around what his role in the murders was.

Police said he had been taken to Cape Town as part of their investigations.

His death was announced hours before he was scheduled to appear in court on charges of murder and rape together with his co-accused, Khupe. The pensioner appeared alone in court before the matter was adjourned until Tuesday for Mabaso's death certificate to be presented to the court.

"He was full of tricks and maybe he has faked his death like he once did before"

Rebecca Moloi, who lives three houses away from the Khoza home, said Mabaso owed the nation answers about why the family of seven was wiped out.

"I am still shocked that he is dead. I don't believe that he died. He was full of tricks and maybe he has faked his death like he once did before. He died with a lot of information," she said.

'He didn't look like a doctor'

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate on Thursday said it was investigating Mabaso's death. 

Moloi says she became aware of Mabaso's presence in her neighbours' home last winter.

"My children told me that there was a doctor who was living in our neighbourhood and I must meet him. When I saw him, I became suspicious of his behaviour. He didn't look like a doctor. He looked ordinary and very young to be a doctor. He wore the same clothes.

"A person needs to study for more than six years in order to be a qualified doctor. But, Mabaso didn't look like a person who had studied medicine overseas as he had claimed. He duped my neighbours in order for them to trust him."

Moloi said at some stage, Mabaso pretended to be a teacher specialising in mathematics. Children would ask him for help with their school work.

She said her children had come home to tell her the news when the decomposed bodies were discovered.

"Saw a heap of soil, a blanket wrapping a human body and a carpet on top of the soil"

"They said I should quickly come to the house. When I arrived there, I went to one of the back rooms and saw a heap of soil, a blanket wrapping a human body and a carpet on top of the soil. The stench was heavy and even today it still lingers in my nose whenever I smell rotten food or clean my garbage bin.

"I hope that Khupe doesn't commit suicide too. I have known him for over 16 years and he was a very quiet man who didn't have friends. He must tell us the truth," she said.

Neighbours claim that Khupe knows the truth because at some stage he had allegedly refused to open the door to one of the rooms where the bodies were found.

Stephina Tshabuse, who has known Khupe for 20 years, said on the day the bodies were discovered neighbours had confronted Khupe in the yard.

Suspect rescued from mob justice

"I last saw the seven family members a week before their badly decomposed bodies were found. On October 29, I saw Khupe leaving the house between 05:00 and 06:00. He returned a few hours later. When we confronted him as neighbours about the whereabouts of the victims, he replied that they had gone home to KwaZulu-Natal.

"We were not convinced with his answer. We then became aggressive and ordered him to open the house, he claimed he didn't have the keys to the house," she said.

Later, a neighbour forced the door open with a spade and they made the grisly discovery of bodies buried under a heap of soil. Police arrived swiftly and rescued the man from an angry mob.

READ: Seven time sorrow

Tshabuse was also not convinced that Mabaso was a doctor.

"He looked suspicious from the first day I saw him.

"Since Mabaso is dead, Khupe must be honest and tell the truth. The state must move us from this street to a better and safe area should the police release him. We don't want him in our area anymore," she said.

Siphiwe Skhakhane said police should have brought Mabaso back to the community so the residents could teach him a lesson.

"I wanted to deal with that boy. I wanted him to tell us why he killed them and who was assisting him. I don't believe that he was alone at the time when the family was killed. There were people who played a role. There is no way a person can kill so many people in a day. I also suspect that the victims were poisoned before they were killed because we would have heard their screams for help," he said.     

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