Vlakfontein murder suspect Fita Khupe will stay in jail after his bail application was denied by the Protea Magistrate's Court. Picture: Dimpho Maja/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - Vlakfontein murder suspect Fita Khupe will stay in jail after his bail application was denied by the Protea Magistrate's Court on Monday.

Khupe is accused of murdering seven Khoza family members in Vlakfontein.

Magistrate David Mhango said there was a possibility that if Khupe was released on bail the community might kill him. He said the witnesses in the case might be scared for their lives because their identities were known to Khupe. 

"The suspect is facing serious charges of murder, if he can be released on bail he might cross the border since he is a Zimbabwean national and that might disturb the investigations, as a result, Khupe is denied bail, his request was not successful," said Mhango. 

Cheers and applause were heard from the court gallery as Mhango announced the court's decision.

Community members from Vlakfontein were ululating, singing and dancing outside court.

"I am very happy, we have been in pain for a long time and today we have got justice," said Khoza's neighbour Anna Nhlapho. 

She said she was hoping that other criminals would learn that they cannot take advantage of other people.

Khupe will remain in custody until his next appearance on April 2.

On January 29, Khupe's lawyer, Gerhard Landman, told the court that the State did not have a strong case against the 61-year-old.

Landman told the court that if the State was relying on the deceased, Ernest Mabaso’s confession for Khupe to not be granted bail, they do not have a strong case.

Mabaso, 27, committed suicide in a cell in Cape Town on January 24. Police had transported Mabaso from the Krugersdorp prison‚ where he was initially held‚ to Cape Town‚ as they sought information that he said could help prove his case that Khupe was also involved in the murders.

During his bail application‚ Mabaso had given incriminating evidence against Khupe‚ claiming he had ordered the hit on the family.

However‚ Khupe has denied any involvement and his lawyer also said Mabaso falsely implicated Khupe in the incident.

Khupe faces seven counts of murder and of theft. 

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.

African News Agency (ANA)