Slain 7’s relatives ‘livingin fear’

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

Relatives of the seven Khoza family members who were brutally murdered in Vlakfontein last year say they fear for their lives now that charges against the surviving alleged killer have been dropped.

Ernest Vusi Mabaso (27) and Fita Khupe (62) were arrested and charged with the rape and murder of the seven Khoza family members after their decomposing bodies were found buried inside their home in October last year.

The bodies of Mbali and Dudu Khoza were found buried under a pile of sand in their Vlakfontein home on October 29, 2018.

Dudu’s three children — Nomfundo, Luyanda and Sibongakonke — and Nomfundo’s children — Karabo (11) and Nkanyiso (2) — were also found in shallow graves in the house.

While the pair were arrested last year, Mabaso committed suicide in a Cape Town prison in January this year, leaving Khupe to face the music alone.

Khupe was the boyfriend of Mbali and owned the home where the massacre happened.

Mabaso entered the Khoza family’s lives last year, convincing the family he was a long-lost relative.

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

Gogo Thoko Khoza, the mother of Dudu and Mbali, said they have “really been battling, especially now that charges against Khupe have been dropped”.

This is according to relative Snenhlanhla Khoza.

The Witness reported in November last year that Snenhlanhla believed she narrowly escaped being lured to her grave.

She told The Witness at the time: “He kept calling me asking when I would be coming to Vlakfontein and then told me he arranged a job interview so I must come.

“I was meant to go there this week [around the time of her family’s deaths]”.

Snenhlanhla, who lives in KwaCaluza near Gogo Thoko Khoza (70) in Pietermaritzburg, spoke to The Witness on Sunday following the court’s decision.

“We will be discussing this as a family. It has taken us by surprise and nobody was expecting that.

“I didn’t really know Khupe but I did meet him a few times. It makes the family nervous that he is no longer being charged,” she said.

Snenhlanhla added that she did not understand why the charges were dropped.

“He [Khupe] was at the house the week of the murders. I just don’t understand how he is not being charged,” she said.

“The family do not feel safe. We will be looking at what other steps we can take moving forward.”

News24 reported on Friday that charges against Khupe were dropped after prosecutors failed to find a way forward after Mabaso committed suicide.

NPA spokesperson Phindi Mjonodwana said there were no reasonable prospects of a successful prosecution going forward as all they had is a confession from Mabaso, and the law does not allow prosecutors to use this against Khupe after Mabaso’s death.

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