Constable Helen Mahwete testified how according to murder accused Sandile Mantsoe, he and former girlfriend Karabo Mokoena took part in a ritual to give them “powers”, which led to Mokoena’s death.
The constable was giving testimony on Thursday in the fourth day of Mantsoe’s trial. He is accused of murdering his former girlfriend Karabo Mokoena.
At the start of the day, Judge AJ Johnson declared that there would no longer be a need for a trial within a trial – he decided yesterday – since the defence indicated it would deny all of Mahwete’s testimony.
The police officer continued, recounting that she approached Mantsoe in the cells of Sandton station. At that time, he was surrounded by other officers, she said.
“From where I was standing I heard him telling them about his business in Forex … as they were talking he told them he had to do a sacrifice because him and Karabo were separated. He continued telling police, ‘you won’t understand’,” she said.
She further explained her testimony from Wednesday, saying she heard Mantsoe say, “When you are in that business [forex] you need power.” He explained he got his powers “with Karabo” when they went to a “master”.
Mahwete testified she began to approach Mantsoe and as she got closer, she remembers the officers saying, “‘let’s leave this guy he’s talking nonsense’.”
After the officers left, Mahwete introduced herself to Mantsoe. There was one other officer in the cell, but he was on his phone. She then recalls Mantsoe repeated to her, “Sister … it’s just that you won’t understand’.”
Mahwete then asked him if he knew what he had been arrested for. At this point in Mahwete’s testimony, state prosecutor, Mike Hlatshwayo, interrupted and handed her a document to show that he had been read his rights. Mahwete confirmed it was signed and accurate. The document was signed at 01.05am on May 11. Mahwete then proceeded to read the document out loud.
Defence attorney Victor Simelane later asked for clarity on whether the witness had spoken to Mantsoe before or after his rights document was conjured. Mahwete confirmed that she had spoken to Mantsoe after it had been signed.
After reading the document out loud, Mahwete continued with her testimony and recalled an admission that Mantsoe made about a ritual sacrifice that he and Mokoena took part in.
She recalls that Mantsoe first asked Mahwete if there was a tattoo of a cross on Mokoena’s shoulder. The defence later asked about the cross and Mahwete said that Mantsoe told her that he and Mokoena got crosses during their ritual.
Mahwete testified, “I asked him how I would see the cross on her body” since her remains were so badly burnt.
After she told him that, Mahwete noticed that he had made eye contact with her and then wiped his eyes like he was about to cry and “when he opened his eyes they turned red”.
After that, he once again repeated to her, “Sister you won’t understand.”
To which she replied, “‘What is it that I won’t understand? Maybe if you tell me I’ll understand’.”
He then admitted to her a ritualistic practice that he and Mokoena allegedly participated in. She testified that he “introduced Karabo to someone by the name of ‘Master’ and they did a ritual to bring them together spiritually so they can have powers in business”.
“He continued saying that when they were doing the ritual they were informed that they shouldn’t break up. If they had broken up one of them had to be sacrificed.”
She then explained that she asked Mantsoe if Karabo would have taken part in the sacrifice. She recalled that he once again wiped his face and proclaimed “Eish saan!”
He then responded “no” and she remembered him saying, “I never thought you would crack me like this.”
Mahwete went on to say that Mantsoe started to admit that he burnt her body. Johnson interrupted the constable and told her to stop since it sounded like she was getting to a confession.
Mahwete recalled that Mantsoe said to her, “I remember him also informing me that Karabo had stabbed herself in the neck [and] he took her blood, mixed it together with his, so he could take it to ‘Master’ for the separation ritual. He was supposed to take the blood to master after 14 days,” but couldn’t get it to him in time.
The defence asked Mahwete if she knew where the blood ritual had taken place. She told him that Mantsoe had told her that the “blood was in his apartment” and was ready to be “taken to the master for the separation ritual.” She did not know where exactly the blood was although she did ask Mantsoe about it.
Lastly, Mahwete remembered that Mantsoe asked her, “Sister, is it obvious that I killed [her]?”
Mahwete answered, “You tell me.”
Captain Roger Mahundla will testify next.