Vlakfontein: Dads just want to know why their children were killed
One of the suspects in the seven murders allegedly hoodwinked the family with a fake identity
Forgiveness is impossible to fathom for the two fathers of three children who were killed in their home at Vlakfontein, south of Johannesburg, last week.
Tebogo Lekotje alternates between wanting vengeance and wanting to hear why they had to die.
On Monday he said he hoped the man alleged to have murdered his 13-year-old daughter, Karabo, her mother Nomfundo Khoza and five other relatives would get bail.
“One thing I can tell you is that if he gets bail, I will pay his bail myself. I will then do with him what I please,” Lekotje told Times Select following court proceedings at the Lenasia Magistrates’ Court, where two suspects made a preliminary appearance in connection with seven counts of premeditated murder.
Lekotje was referring to 61-year-old Fita Khupe, who is said to be from Mozambique and living legally in SA, and a 27-year-old illegal migrant from Zimbabwe. The second suspect, who chose not to apply for bail, cannot be named at this stage, as he is expected to also face a charge relating to the alleged rape of a minor.
Under SA law, a suspect in this instance cannot be named until he has been asked to plead.
“[If guilty,] both of them don’t deserve to live. They don’t deserve to live amongst people [if they are found guilty],” said Lekotje.
He said he did not know the younger man, but he knew Khupe.
“He has been with Nomfundo’s aunt for about 15 years, but I wasn’t close with him. I never really spoke to him,” said Lekotje.
The grieving father, however, said he was desperate for closure.
“I am very happy that there is a light [with arrests being made and the case coming to court] because in the end we will find out what happened and who was behind this. I don’t care about a lot of things, but I just want to find out why my child was killed,” Lekotje said, bursting into tears.
He said it was tough to bury his child over the weekend.
“It was very sad to see so many people just lying there, dead, when they have done absolutely nothing wrong, especially the children.
“What had the children done?
“But we are trying as a family. We will be okay,” he said, choking back on his tears.
He cannot find forgiveness for the men who stand accused of the killings.
“No, I won’t honestly forgive. I don’t want to speak to them or come across them at all. I don’t want to see them near me at all. All I know is that they [allegedly] killed my child. I don’t want to hear anything from them,” he said. Lekotje found it difficult to watch the two men in the dock on Monday. Seated in the courtroom gallery, he took off his cap, shook his head and broke down.
Along the same court bench was community safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane, who was among other ANC members who had come to support the grieving family.
Cedric Shembe, the father of Luyanda, 7, and Nondumiso, 2, who were also murdered, spoke to Times Select by telephone, saying he was on his way to buy sleeping tablets.
He had known Khupe for some time and had enquired about the younger accused when he first saw him in the family home.
“I was told that he is the son of one of the uncles in the family. But for me, the story didn’t make sense because the uncle had died in 1988, but this man was born in 1991,” Shembe said.
Meanwhile, back at the Vlakfontein home where the bodies of the seven were found buried in shallow graves inside their home, the large gate was padlocked.
A burnt mattress and folded carpet lay rolled outside while the dustbin was filled with debris, including empty containers.
Neighbours told Times Select there had been little activity since the weekend as the family had left for the burial in Pietermaritzburg.
Shembe said he had been mentally prepared to come face to face with the men alleged to have killed his children.
He, however, felt traumatised by the ordeal.
“It is bad. What hurts me the most is what I saw there and now, I get to see them, the alleged perpetrators,” he said.
Asked whether he would be eventually willing to forgive, Shembe said he could not immediately say.
“Forgiveness might come once I get an explanation. For now, I need the explanation as to why this torture and brutal killings happened,” he said.
Shembe said next week the family would meet to discuss what they would do with the house.
During Monday’s court proceedings, the two accused stood side by side in the dock with their feet chained, not interacting with each other.
The younger man had been welcomed into the Khoza home after he claimed to be a relative of the family. On Monday, however, the court heard that the name he had given the family, Sibusiso Khoza, was not his real name. He was, in fact, an illegal migrant from Zimbabwe.
He was arrested last week Thursday in Mpumalanga, near the Lebombo border post with Mozambique. He was found in possession of bank cards belonging to two of the seven victims, Captain Mavela Masondo said ahead of the court proceedings.
He also faces an additional three charges of rape. According to National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Phindi Mjondondwane, he is alleged to have raped one child and two adults from the Khoza household.
The second accused, Khupe, has been in SA since 1975, and is in the country legally.
According to community members of Vlakfontein who were present in court, Khupe had been involved in a romantic relationship with one of the Khoza women. The community had known him as Dan.
Both are represented by Legal Aid. The matter returns to court on November 12.