State withdraws charges against remaining Vlakfontein murder accused

2019-06-07 11:50
Vlakfontein murder accused, Fita Khupe. (Canny Maphanga, News24)

Vlakfontein murder accused, Fita Khupe. (Canny Maphanga, News24)

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The State withdrew charges against Vlakfontein murder accused, Fita Khupe, in the Lenasia Regional Court on Friday.

This comes after it failed to find a way forward after another accused, Ernest Mabaso, committed suicide in his police cell in January, following his move to the Cape Town Central police station.

"Prosecutors tried to establish facts and found that there were no reasonable prospects of a successful prosecution going forward," NPA spokesperson Phindi Mjonodwana told news channel eNCA outside the court.

"All we have is a confession from the deceased. The law does not allow us to use this against Khupe," she said. 

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Mjonodwana added that witness statements had failed to link the 62-year-old suspect to the murders.

In a confession, Mabaso claimed that he had committed the crime under Khupe's instruction.

Mabaso and Khupe were accused of murdering seven members of the Khoza family, according to News24. 

The pair were charged with seven counts of premeditated murder. Mabaso faced an additional three counts of rape.

The men also faced an additional charge of theft, as they were found with the bank cards of the deceased.

ALSO READ: IPID probing Vlakfontein murder accused’s death in police custody

In a statement issued on Friday, Mjonodwana said the decision to withdraw the charges against Khupe was based on the fact that there was no evidence linking him to the crime except for a confession made by Mabaso, which cannot be used in court. The DNA evidence taken from the crime scene also excluded Khupe. 

"The NPA has therefore decided to refer the matter to a magistrate to conduct an inquest hearing to establish the circumstances surrounding the death of the Khoza family. Subsequent to its decision not to proceed, the prosecution held a meeting with some family members of the deceased to explain the motivation for the decision," she said. 

The police found the bodies of three women and four children buried under sand in a house on October 29, 2018, after neighbours noticed a stench coming from the property.

A resident previously told the court that, if either Khupe or Mabaso were released on bail, they "were not going to cross the borders of South Africa alive", News24 earlier reported.

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