Johannesburg - Drama erupted as the two men accused of gruesomely killing seven people in Vlakfontein made their first appearance, with one requesting bail and the other declining it.
On Monday at the Lenasia Magistrate's Court in Joburg, Ernest Mabaso, 27, said he would not be making a formal bail application, while Fifita Khupe, 61, requested it.
The two men, the State alleges, brutally killed and buried the bodies of three adults and four children, the youngest of whom was a 2-year-old boy.
Magistrate Maggie van der Merwe, however, warned Khupe that, due to the seriousness of the offences his facing, bail would be difficult to be granted, and that the onus would be for him to prove why he should be released.
#Vlakfontein: A packed courtroom filled with angry community members, as well as grief-stricken family, have taken their seats ahead of the 1st appearance of the two men accused of killing seven people in Vlakfontein. @TheStar_news @ReporterStar @IOL pic.twitter.com/7LF36ZlPCL— Khaya Sibulele Koko (@khayakoko88) November 5, 2018
Both accused, it was confirmed, are foreign nationals, with Mabaso a Zimbabwean and Khupe a Mozambican, who told the court he has been in the country since 1975.
According to Phindi Mjonondwane, the Gauteng spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), investigators are still confirming the legality of the men’s status in the country.
They are both facing seven counts of murder, with Mabaso facing an additional three charges of rape.
#Vlakfontein: Community members, joined by the ANC Women's League, have arrived at the Lenasia Magistrate's Court for the first appearance of the two men accused of gruesomely killing 7 people, among whom were 4 children. @TheStar_news @ReporterStar @IOL pic.twitter.com/AC4bp54Exe— Khaya Sibulele Koko (@khayakoko88) November 5, 2018
Both will also face charges of theft for being in possession of suspected stolen goods belonging to the victims.
It was a packed courtroom with fuming family members and the community- who swore at the accused- warning them not to come out "or we will deal with you".
Gauteng Community Safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane was also in court, and could be heard telling the 61-year-old Khupe: "I hate you."
#Vlakfontein: @GP_CommSafety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane is in court to support family members of victims who were brutally killed and buried in a house last month. The accused, who is in leg irons, is one of two suspects arrested. @TheStar_news @ReporterStar @IOL pic.twitter.com/BWd5pFFTLn— Khaya Sibulele Koko (@khayakoko88) November 5, 2018
Khupe simply looked back, put his hands together and asked to be forgiven, without saying what for.
Khupe is believed to have been romantically involved with one of the women who was killed and owned the house where the horror killings occurred.
The 61-year-old was nabbed on Saturday in Dobsonville, Soweto.
WATCH: #Vlakfontein murder accused, Ernest Mabaso and Fifita Khupe, go down to the docks amid swearing from angry community members. (GRAPHIC CONTENT). @TheStar_news @ReporterStar @IOL pic.twitter.com/q3yLJdVt6G— Khaya Sibulele Koko (@khayakoko88) November 5, 2018
Mabaso was also captured on Saturday in Lebombo, Mpumalanga, near the Mozambican border with Mozambique after he fled there following his release from custody on Thursday due to what the police said was a "lack of evidence".
Gauteng SAPS spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo said on Sunday that police had managed to "re-arrest Mabaso because now we believe we have a strong case against him and can link him to the murders".
Mjonondwane echoed Masondo's views, asserting that the State did have a watertight case.
Both accused will remain in custody until their next appearance on Monday, November 12.