Vusi Ernest Mabaso, 27, one of the two people accused of killing 7 people. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi / African News Agency ANA

Johannesburg - One of the accused in the murder of 7 Vlakfontein family members, 27-year-old Ernest Mabaso, has committed suicide.

He was due to appear in Protea Magistrate's court alongside his co-accused Fita Khupe, 60.

Police said Mabaso was found dead in his cell. The accused had been taken to Cape Town as part of investigations into the murders.

On October 29, neighbours alerted police to a foul smell coming from the Khoza family's house in Vlakfontein, south of Johannesburg. The police broke down the door and made the gruesome discovery.

Seven bodies had been concealed with piles of sand on the floor. There were blood stains on the wall.

During the pair’s previous appearance, Mabaso asked the court if he could be moved from the Johannesburg Central police station’s holding cells because he had been receiving threats from his co-accused who is being held at the Johannesburg Correctional Facility, also known as Sun City. He was moved to Krugersdorp Prison.

“The issue is that of safety, your worship. He is saying that accused two is threatening him and that there are people he, accused two is working with,” Mabaso's lawyer told the court when they appeared earlier this month.

Mabaso had previously indicated he would be abandoning his application for bail. However, he later opted to submit a formal application which led to the matter being postponed.

African News Agency (ANA)