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New developments delay Karabo Mokoena’s murder trial

FILE PICTURE: Sandile Mantsoe‚ the man accused of killing Karabo Mokoena appears at the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court.
FILE PICTURE: Sandile Mantsoe‚ the man accused of killing Karabo Mokoena appears at the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court.
Image: Olo Mongale

Developments which surfaced at the eleventh hour on Monday led to the postponement of the trial against Forex trader‚ Sandile Mantsoe‚ accused of murdering his girlfriend‚ Karabo Mokoena.

“There are new developments which have caused the state not to be ready for today‚” said Advocate Pakanyiswa Marasela. She and Mantsoe’s lawyer both agreed to postpone the trial to March 19.

“We also need to consult with the accused [on the developments]‚” his lawyer Victor Simelane said. It was not immediately clear what those developments were.

Dressed in a grey suit‚ waistcoat and tie‚ Mantsoe stood in the dock‚ following the proceedings through a Zulu interpreter.

The 28-year-old‚ who has been behind bars since last year‚ looked clean and well-shaven‚ with a mohawk hairstyle. As soon as he entered the courtroom ahead of the proceedings‚ a man known as his pastor rushed to the front of the courtroom to address him.

Mantsoe’s family and the pastor sat on the one side of the court while Mokoena’s family‚ including her mother‚ sister and best friend occupied the other.

Meanwhile‚ journalists requested permission for the proceedings to be televised. Simelane told the court that the affected media houses would need to bring in a formal application to the court. He intended to oppose the application.

During the bail application held in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court‚ Mantsoe’s defense team had opposed the media from reporting on any details of the proceedings‚ arguing that sensitive information would be revealed. The court had ruled in his favour and in an unprecedented move‚ ordered a complete media blackout on the proceedings.

SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE however challenged the ruling and it was overturned.

With his lips pursed together‚ Mantsoe glanced at Mokoena’s family as they walked out of court. He then turned to his own family and winked as he was led down to the court holding cells.

The forex trader is accused of brutally murdering his 22-year-old girlfriend in April last year. Her charred remains were found in a shallow ditch in Lyndhurst.

During his bail application the married father of three‚ who is estranged from his wife‚ denied killing Mokoena‚ saying he came home from a business meeting on April 28 and found she had committed suicide in his Sandton apartment. He did not specify how she had died.

The pair had been together earlier in the day.

Mantsoe claimed that out of fear and panic that he would be blamed for the death of his on-and-off girlfriend‚ he disposed of her body. He drenched it in pool acid and petrol‚ put a tyre around it and set it alight. The body was found a day later with only some parts still recognisable.

After not hearing from her for days‚ Mokoena’s family and friends went on a frantic search for her‚ also circulating her pictures on social media‚ unaware that a badly burnt body which lay in a government mortuary was hers.

During the bail application‚ the state submitted that Mantsoe had told police that he had killed Mokoena to sever a blood ritual that had been performed to strengthen his business. His business had reportedly started to fail once he and Mokoena parted ways. Mantsoe denied these allegations.

A post mortem examination failed to deduce what had killed Mokoena as her body was too badly burnt. The state submitted during the bail application that Mokoena could have been alive when she was set alight.

Mantsoe faces charges of premeditated murder‚ defeating the ends of justice‚ and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

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