Student cop in court over teen's death
A Soweto teenager was punched in the face by a police officer before he was shot dead, his aunt told the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court
The teenager fell to the ground, then police asked him “where the gun was”, Winnie Mokoka testified.
“Thato said 'Mom, I did nothing. Tell them I did nothing and I don’t know anything about a gun'.”
Mokoka was giving evidence in the trial of student constable Sipho Mbatha, charged with shooting dead 16-year-old Thato Mokoka on February 14 this year.
Mbatha denied guilt.
“I don’t plead guilty to murder but to culpable homicide. It was not my intention,” he said in the morning.
Mokoka said a group of police officers came knocking on her door that night, looking for Thato.
The officers said they suspected he was a member of a gang called the BWA, and that he owned a firearm.
The police were accompanied by two women and two boys, who had apparently raised complaints over the teenager.
Mokoka said she pointed towards a shack.
“The police then went to the shack, knocked several times before pushing in the door. A girl came running out and she stood next to me. There were other people in the shack still.”
The police went into the shack and screams were heard. Thato then came out. A police officer punched him in the face.
Mokoka said Thato told the police he knew nothing about a gun.
A woman who was with the police said Thato had a gun and people were tired of him.
Mokoka testified that one officer held Thato down with his foot on Thato’s neck and a gun over him.
Other officers continued to search the shack. Suddenly several gunshots were fired and it became clear that Thato had been hit.
Mokoka could not point out student constable Sipho Mbatha as the one who pulled the trigger.
Members of the Mokoka family cried while she testified.
Mbatha is accused of shooting Mokoka several times as he lay on the ground outside the house.
He claimed that as he bent over to search Mokoka a gun went off.
Judge Kathleen Satchwell approved a verbal application by members of the media to record certain parts of the trial.
The trial continues.