Security guard refutes Karabo Mokoena suicide assertion

The security guard relayed how Mantsoe had needed assistance to enter into his fourth floor apartment because his girlfriend, Karabo, was in there and he “didn’t know what was happening”. (Veli Nhlapo/Sowetan)

The security guard relayed how Mantsoe had needed assistance to enter into his fourth floor apartment because his girlfriend, Karabo, was in there and he “didn’t know what was happening”. (Veli Nhlapo/Sowetan)

On Thursday, Lucky Nongogo, a security guard from Sandton Skye apartments, refuted claims that Karabo Mokoena was suicidal a month prior to her death.

Nongogo was called to provide witness testimony in the murder trial of Sandile Mantsoe. Mantsoe, who stands accused of murdering his former girlfriend Karabo Mokoena, has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Mantsoe claims Mokoena took her own life.

Happy Maphiri, a site supervisor at the apartment building at the time Mantsoe lived there, was the first called to the witness stand. Maphiri said that though he knew Mantsoe, he had never entered the murder accused’s apartment. Maphiri then explained the procedure when a tenant leaves their access card in their room.

Maphiri’s brief testimony was followed by that of Nongogo who described what had occurred on March 16 2017. The security guard relayed how Mantsoe had needed assistance to enter into his fourth floor apartment. Mantsoe had come to the control room where Nongogo was and asked him to help him gain entry into his apartment because his girlfriend, Karabo, was in there and he “didn’t know what was happening”.

For the defence, Victor Simelane asked Nongogo if had seen any suicidal texts on Mantsoe’s phone from Mokoena. Nongogo responded that he had not.

Continuing his witness testimony, Nongogo explained he and Mantsoe had made their way to the latter’s apartment, meeting security guard Isaac Mabasa on the way up. The two invited Mabasa to accompany them since Nongogo was ending his shift and Mabasa was about to start his.

Using a master key, the three men opened the door to the apartment. As Nongogo opened the door, Mabasa went to attend to another issue. Nongogo then described seeing Mokoena, “When we went into the room, Karabo was sleeping in the blankets, only her head was out. ... The accused asked Karabo [what happened] and she responded ‘Sorry I was fast asleep,’ and I left them.”

Nongogo said that he didn’t sense anything suspicious. He also refuted prior claims that Mokoena was found in the room surrounded by pills and pill bottles.

State prosecutor Mike Hlatshwayo then asked if Nongogo had ever received any reports that Mokoena had committed suicide or if they had found a suicide note. Nongogo responded, “No.”

Additionally, Nongogo testified he received Mokoena’s identification document and passport from a cleaner at reception, but he wasn’t sure when he had received them.

Lastly, the state called Tapiwa Manjengwa, the cleaner who found Mokoena’s passport and ID at Sandton Skye after her disappearance. He recounted how on April 29 2017 he had found the documents in the dustbin on the fourth floor. Manjengwa said he had handed them over to Nongogo.

The state then concluded its case. The matter is adjourned until April 30.

Arielle Schwartz

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