Vlakfontein murder: Gauteng community safety MEC steps in

Faith Mazibuko says strong message must be sent that criminals have no place in Gauteng

Vlakfontein murder: Gauteng community safety MEC steps in after charges withdrawn

11 June 2019

Gauteng Community Safety MEC Faith Mazibuko has instructed a team in her department to thoroughly investigate the case of Vlakfontein murder accused Fita Khupe, after the State withdrew multiple murder charges against him.

Khupe was accused of murdering seven members of the Khoza family in 2018, but he walked out of the Lenasia Regional Court a free man last Friday.

Residents then took to the streets in protest and questioned why they had not been informed that the matter would be in court earlier, on June 7, instead of June 13.

They also said they were not convinced by the National Prosecuting Authority's (NPA) claim that there was not enough evidence to charge Khupe.

Mazibuko stepped in after she met community members on Monday.

In a statement issued last Friday, NPA spokesperson Phindi Mjonodwana said the decision to withdraw the charges against Khupe was based on the fact that there was no evidence linking him to the crime, except for a confession by his co-accused, Ernest Mabaso, which cannot be used in court.

Mazibuko has also committed to speaking to the justice ministry about the merits of the case and exploring the reinstatement of the charges.

She said she would also speak to the community safety MEC in the Western Cape about the death in custody of Mabaso. Mabaso committed suicide in his police cell in January, following his move to the Cape Town central police station. Residents had expressed concern about his sudden death.

Mazibuko also committed to visiting the community of Vlakfontein and to holding a public meeting. She intends to address unresolved gender-based violence (GBV) cases in Vlakfontein and surrounding areas.

In addition, Mazibuko met the Gauteng police commissioner, Lieutenant General Elias Mawela, and senior police management at the police's provincial offices in Parktown.

"Premier David Makhura is concerned about the reputation the Gauteng province has as a 'crime capital'. Efforts must be intensified to send a strong message that criminals have no place in Gauteng," she said.

Among the priorities is adequate training of police officers, increasing police visibility, putting in place systems and mechanisms to prevent crime, strengthening community police forums and community safety forums and targeting gang violence and drugs.

"It is of utmost importance that the police uphold the principles of Batho Pele and restore public trust by disassociating themselves from corrupt activities," said Mazibuko.