Cops tell how they put Sandile Mantsoe case together
The three investigators behind the successful murder conviction of Sandile Mantsoe had to crisscross three provinces to interview 50 witnesses related to the case.
Police Captain Malefetsane Radebe, sergeants Dineo Moloi and Pule Kotelo, whose work secured a conviction against Karabo Mokoena's killer, Mantsoe, said they also had to revisit the crime scene twice to ensure no crucial evidence was left behind.
Yesterday, the officers attached to the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit spoke to Sowetan about their experience on the complex case.
"We had to revisit the crime scenes, Mantsoe's flat and the veld where the deceased's body was found," Radebe said.
The three, with a combined experience of 69 years, said it would have been hard to secure a conviction against Mantsoe on the murder charge without the assault charge, which took place before she was killed.
Radebe said because her body was burnt beyond recognition, it was expected that some of her body parts could have been incinerated.
"But we would have seen ash of the missing body parts, but there wasn't any. That was not the scene at which the body was burned. The body was merely dumped in the veld," Radebe said.
"Mokoena's remains consisted mainly of her skull and rib cage. So we haven't been able to establish what happened to her other parts," he said.
The officers had to remain calm and cut through the public anger that emerged after Mokoena's murder.
"We had a great amount of evidence by the time the bail hearing took place. We had DNA records, witnesses, a written admission - not a confession but an admission - the footage from the complex where he lived and forensic
evidence that placed the deceased at the crime scene.
"That contributed to the matter being concluded in the time frame it did," Moloi said.
The officers said despite the bloodstains that were found in Mantsoe's flat, they were not confident that this would lead to a successful conviction. "We divided ourselves and interviewed the 50 witnesses because we wanted to establish his personality and who we were dealing with," Kotelo said.
They described Mantsoe as calm and cooperative throughout investigations, but said he stuck to his version of events that Mokoena stabbed herself to death.
"Only Mantsoe and Mokoena know exactly what happened that day. Our job was to prove it in the court of law and that was not easy because there was a lot of hearsay and it was all circumstantial and we needed to put flesh to it," Kotelo said.