The family of Karabo Mokoena hugged each other and began to cry after Sandile Mantsoe was found guilty of murder on Wednesday.
“The absence of [the defence’s] evidence strengthens the state’s case … and the court is satisfied that the state has proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt,” said acting judge Johnson.
Mantsoe was found guilty of assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm, murder and defeating the ends of justice in the Karabo Mokoena case. Mantsoe pleaded not guilty. He is still to be sentenced.
After the verdict was announced Lolo Mokoena, Karabo’s mother, stood up and began to cry, hugging a close friend. Mokoena walked out of the court room and sat down on a bench recalling the anxiety that she has faced over the past year,“I’m shaking … It’s been tough. There’s no word to describe it. I’m happy about the outcome of the case.”
Her friend, the mother of first witness Stephanie Leong, continued to hug and comfort Mokoena who was still in tears.
[Karabo Mokoena’s mother Lolo (centre) with Stephanie Leong’s mother (right) (Arielle Schwartz/M&G)]
On April 27 2017, Karabo Mokoena paid a visit to her former boyfriend, Mantsoe’s apartment. There is video footage of Mokoena entering the building, but none of her exiting. It is disputed how Mantsoe actually killed Mokoena, but it can be inferred that he stabbed her in the neck, found the judge.
Mantsoe then put her body in a dustbin and moved her to the back of his car. He drove her to Corlett Drive in Lyndhurst, where he attempted to dispose of her remains burning her body with a tyre, petrol and acid and leaving it in a ditch.
When the body was recovered, it was “burned beyond recognition”, said Johnson. He said that the version in Mantsoe’s plea explanation, that she had committed suicide, was not backed up by testimony.
Mokoena’s paternal uncle Tshepo, who was at the trial on Wednesday, was satisfied by the outcome of the trial and believes that Mantsoe will finally understand what he has done wrong.
“I think Sandile is sick. How can I forgive somebody who has never asked for forgiveness?”
After the verdict was announced, Mantsoe said that he “tried to make the best of the opportunity” to try and prove that he was innocent.
Although sentencing procedures are postponed until tomorrow, the state and Mokoena’s family believe justice has been served.
“As her name states, Karabo is an answer to what happened. I’ve been having mixed emotions about everything because of the evidence but today is when I saw that there is justice,” said her mother.