Cop ‘blinded by fury’ during killingsComment on this story
Johannesburg - A Joburg metro policeman cannot remember killing his girlfriend or shooting his 6-year-old neighbour with his service pistol - because he had been “blinded by fury”.
Siphiwe Mbatha had allegedly earlier murdered Tumelo Michael Thosago, a killing that was apparently triggered by a love triangle.
This was the testimony of Mbatha, whose trial began on Thursday in the South Gauteng High Court, sitting in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court, where he admitted his actions were “disgusting”.
He is charged with the murders of his girlfriend and her lover, attempted murder for allegedly shooting his neighbour, kidnapping, and malicious damage to property.
Mbatha allegedly kidnapped his girlfriend, Elaine Lenong, at gunpoint from her friend’s car in December 2012.
He then allegedly killed Lenong’s lover, Thosago, when Thosago confronted him about the kidnapping.
Mbatha pleaded guilty on Thursday to the five charges against him, but Judge Lucy Mailula rejected the plea because Mbatha said he had a blackout after he fired his first shot at Lenong, and had not intended to kill anyone.
The State is now required to prove its case.
According to Mbatha, he fired a shot at Lenong just moments after shooting Thosago.
“After shooting at the second deceased, I was disturbed in my mind,” Mbatha told the court through an interpreter.
“I just cannot recall the events that followed after that.”
Later, Judge Mailula asked what he meant by having a blackout, after he had said it was not caused by alcohol.
“Are you telling the court you were blinded by fury?” she asked.
“Correct,” he replied.
Mbatha said he also couldn’t remember shooting his young neighbour.
“I believe in my sober senses I wouldn’t have fired a shot at the child,” he told the judge.
In his plea statement, Mbatha described what had happened on the night Thosago arrived at his house.
“(Thosago) threatened me and he moved towards his vehicle,” said advocate Thapelo Mokabe, reading out the statement on behalf of his client.
“I ran into (my) house, took my service revolver and I shot him first, and then my girlfriend who was nearby.”
Lenong then fled into a neighbour’s house. Mbatha gave chase and then allegedly shot and killed her.
One of the bullets hit a 6-year-old neighbour, who was inside the home, in the foot.
Thosago died the next day in Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital from a gunshot wound to the head.
Mbatha’s grandfather convinced him to turn himself over to police the following day.
“I dearly regret what I did. My behaviour was disgusting and dishonourable. I am sorry for what I have done and I apologise for my wrongful actions,” he said in the statement.
Mbatha said he opened fire because he felt threatened when Thosago looked for something under the seat of the car.
“I thought that he was picking up (a) firearm,” Mbatha told the judge.
“I’m asking about fact now, I don’t want to hear what you were thinking. I want to know was he armed or not?” Judge Mailula asked.
“I did not see a firearm,” he conceded.
Lenong and Thosago were colleagues at the Tshepo-Themba clinic in Dobsonville, Soweto. It is unclear how long they had been romantically involved.
The trial continues.