Vusi Ernest Mabaso has been of accused of killing 7 family members from Vlakfontein. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - The Protea Magistrate's Court on Wednesday heard that the 27-year-old man accused of raping and killing members of the Khoza family in Vlakfontein was forced to commit the crimes by his 61-year-old co-accused.

Ernest Mabaso told the court that he was forced by Fita Khupe to rape the children before he killed them.

Mabaso and Khupe were applying for bail on seven counts of murder and theft. Mabaso is also facing three additional charges of rape.

He pleaded not guilty to all the charges and said his family could afford R5 000 bail. 

Mabaso is a South African who was born in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga and holds a diploma in teaching obtained from the University of North West in 2012. The court heard that he was not employed at the time of his arrest.

In his affidavit during the bail application Mabaso said he would like to briefly state the circumstances that led to the commission of the offences.

"In 2015, whilst I was doing my practical training in Rawana Secondary school in Hlabane, I was renting a room near a school. My landlord and other unknown people drugged me and kidnapped me and I woke up in Cape Town. Two men then approached me in the dark room I was in and informed me that there was a job they wanted me to do in Johannesburg," said Mabaso.

He said he started working for the unknown men and packed drugs for them. After a while, he was told they had the information they needed for the Johannesburg job. 

They said if he involved the police, he would be killed and nothing would be done to them because they were working with the police.

"They forced me use the name of Sibusiso Enerst Khoza for the purpose of the job, and they were telling me all that I was suppose to do. I then created a Facebook account with the name of Sibusiso and invited Sne and Nomfundo Khoza, only Sne accepted my friend request."

Mabaso said under the pretence of being a member of the Khoza family, he said started communicating with Sne on Whatsapp and she added him to the family group chat. They said he should come and visit.

"The people in Cape Town then informed me that I should go to Johannesburg and kill them. I refused to do so [and] they threatened me, and I told them that I was just a teacher - I have never killed anyone. I decide to steal the car and drove back home but I was arrested because the car was reported stolen while I was still in King Williams Town in Eastern Cape."

Ernest Mabaso and Fita Khupe. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA) Archives


Mabaso told the court how after he was released from prison, the same people tracked him down and told him he still had to complete the job in Johannesburg and threatened to kill him if he betrayed them.

He said after he was transported to Johannesburg, he met Khupe who told him to gain the trust of the Khoza family and to not forget that he was there to kill the family.

He said after a few months Khupe told him that he will be travelling to Zimbabwe and he directed him on how to kill the Khoza family. Mabaso told the court that Khupe gave him a hammer.

"Khupe said I should strike them twice with the hammer so that they won't make any noise."

He said Khupe called him to ask if he completed the job and asked if he raped the three women before killing them, Mabaso said he agreed even though he knew he did not.

"I did what he told me to do to the four family members and he said I should fetch the kids in Palm Springs. I fetched Karabo and Lolo. I then raped Karabo in his presence and after that he watched me suffocate the children and placed them in the backroom," Mabaso said.

Mabaso said afterwards he stole a bank card and withdrew money so he could flee to Nelspruit. He was arrested at his grandmother's house.

"I admit that I committed the violence against the deceased, I however deny that I had intentions. I was forced and threatened by Khupe and I was scared for my life," said Mabaso.

African News Agency/ANA