Murder accused Sandile Mantsoe. FILE PHOTO: ANA

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Murderer Mantsoe ‘a devil in disguise’ – Judge Johnson

JOHANNESBURG, May 3 – South Gauteng High Court Judge Peet Johnson on Thursday sentenced convicted killer Sandile Mantsoe to 32 years in prison, describing him as a ”devil in disguise” who heartlessly killed Karabo Mokoena.

Delivering the scathing judgment, Judge Johnson painted a picture of an evil Mantsoe who murdered and burnt Mokoena’s body in 2017 and then continued with his life as if nothing had happened.
”This court cannot describe you in any other way than the devil in disguise. Murder is a heinous crime that this court can describe as a crime of no return. The deceased had a constitutional right to life, you had no right to dispose her life…life is the most important asset to everyone…in this case, the deceased has nothing, she’s gone forever, thanks to you,” Johnson said to Mantsoe.

Judge Johnson sentenced Mantsoe to thirty years for murder, five years for assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and four for defeating the ends of justice. Mantsoe will serve an effective 32 years, as the sentences will run concurrently.

The judge said Mantsoe gave men a ”bad name” and deserved serious punishment. Femicide, he said, continued in the country despite serious jail terms imposed on assailants.
”For you, it cannot be business as usual anymore, you caused an imbalance in the scale of justice which the courts must correct. Sentence imposed today will not bring her back…you have shown no remorse at all even in your evidence today, you tried to avoid responsibility, you maligned the deceased, even going further as accusing her father of abusing her daughter, an allegation refuted by the sister.”

The packed public gallery audibly breathed a sigh of relief as the sentence was read out. Mantsoe remained emotionless as he stood in the dock.
Mokoena’s charred remains were found by passers-by in a ditch in Lyndhurst, Johannesburg in April 2017.

Keabetswe Mokoena  described in the South Gauteng High Court how she urged her daughter Karabo Mokoena to leave convicted killer Sandile Mantsoe and report him the police for assault.

Testifying in aggravation of sentence, Keabetswe said her daughter would call her and send her photographs of her battered and bruised self, saying Mantsoe had beaten her up.

”I asked her why she stayed in the relationship… she said she loved him. Karabo would not want to go open a case, she said everything will be alright.”

Mokoena’s charred remains were found in a ditch in Lyndhurst, Johannesburg in April 2017.

Keabetswe said she had doubts about the relationship after meeting Mantsoe for the first time. Mantsoe would not look her in the eyes, she said.

”When she came with him, I could tell that that murderer was not good for my child.  As a mother you can see when people are in love. When I met him, he was avoiding eye contact… what I saw was not a couple in love, they just looked like friends,” she said.

She said Karabo’s death has hurt the family, and that Mantsoe’s apology in court did not matter at all.

“It’s like there’s a hole in my heart,” she said after describing her late 22-year-old daughter as a bubbly and happy young woman.

Convicted killer Sandile Mantsoe told the South Gauteng High Court he was sorry for burning his girlfriend Karabo Mokoena’s body, reiterating that he did not kill her.

Mokoena’s charred remains were found in Lyndhurst, Johannesburg in April 2017.

”I apologise to the family, the community and the people who look up to me..burning Karabo was a shortcoming,” he said in mitigation of sentence.

Prosecutor Phakanyiswa Marasela asked him why he was apologising only after having been found guilty by the court.

”Why didn’t you give an apology here in front of everyone and family? What took you so long?” she asked.

Mantsoe said he wrote a letter to the Mokoena family.

”It hasn’t taken long…I was incarcerated. I wrote a letter to the family apologising and also sent my condolences”.

Judge Peet Johnson interjected, and asked him why he was apologising ”in half” and not saying sorry for killing Mokoena.

”I did not murder her,” Mantsoe said.

Johnson has found him guilty on all charges — murder, assault with the intention to do grievous bodily harm and defeating the ends of justice. Mantsoe had pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Sandile Mantsoe, who has been found guilty of killing his ex-girlfriend Karabo Mokoena, on Thursday apologised to the dead woman’s family and community.

On Wednesday Judge AJ Johnson found Mantsoe guilty of assault with the intention to cause grievous bodily harm; murder and attempting to defeat the ends of justice in the South Gauteng High Court.

Mantsoe, who was addressing the court in mitigation ahead of sentencing, said he has taken advantage of prison life to mend his ways and motivate others.

Asked by the judge what he was apologising for the accused said he was apologising for “burning the body”.


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