JOHANNESBURG - The bail hearing of Ernest Mabaso and Fifita Khupe, who allegedly murdered seven members of the same family in Vlakfontein, was postponed on Tuesday in the Lenasia Magistrate's Court because of a power failure.
After several hours without electricity, Magistrate Maggie van der Merwe postponed the matter to Wednesday.
Mabaso, 27, and Khupe, 61, were expected to apply for bail on seven counts of murder and theft.
Mabaso is also facing three additional charges of rape.
"I can not keep everyone waiting because we don't know what is happening with the electricity because it's not a problem of load shedding, so the electrician will have to come and fix it,” Van der Merwe said.
“Nothing operates without electricity, so we will have to postpone to tomorrow because the electricity will not be fixed today”.
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.
Community members of Vlakfontein gathered outside court to protest against the bail application.
Ace Mokoenyane, a councillor in Vlakfontein, said they had submitted a petition against the release on bail of Mabaso and Khupe .
“We have submitted a petition containing 1300 signatures from Vlakfontein residents and neighbouring communities because we do not want these people released back into our communities,” Mokoenyane said.'
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African News Agency (ANA)