Karabo Mokoena second 'trial within a trial'

The matter continues on Thursday at the Johannesburg High Court. (Leon Sadiki/City Press)

The matter continues on Thursday at the Johannesburg High Court. (Leon Sadiki/City Press)

When Karabo Mokoena’s body was found by the police in April last year, it was so badly burnt that Constable Helen Mahwete could not tell whether the body was male or female, the Johannesburg High Court heard on Wednesday.

Constable Helen Mahwete was the sixth witness to be called to testify in the case against Sandile Mantsoe who stands accused of killing his former girlfriend Karabo Mokoena. Mantsoe has pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him.

On April 29, Mahwete received a complaint about a body that was found on Corlett Drive in Lyndhurst.

Mahwete went to the area to investigate and found two sergeants there. The sergeants led her to a small ditch in the veld where she came upon Mokoena’s then unidentified body.

“When I arrived they showed me a body that was burnt to an extent that you could not differentiate whether it was a female or male.”

While investigating the body and its surrounds, Mahwete noticed the toenails were painted, indicating to her that it was possibly a female victim.

Near the body were several pieces of evidence, including two containers that smelled like petrol, a plastic bag with black stains and a blueish blanket that also had black stains. Additionally, there was a small mat near the body with blood stains on it.

Although the police could not identify the body at the time, Mahwete deducted the identity of the body based on hearing over the police PA system that the area would be searched on May 10 to investigate the disappearance of Karabo Mokoena.

After meeting with Sandton police, the constable went back to the Sandton station where Mantsoe was in custody. She tried to speak to Mantsoe but described him as incoherent.

Mahwete was on the verge of recounting his “incoherent statements”, but at that moment the judge declared another trial within a trial in order to investigate whether these statements would be admissible. The matter continues on Thursday at the Johannesburg High Court.

Arielle Schwartz

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