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Court hears of teen’s organ damage

Johannesburg -

Most of a Soweto teenager's internal organs were damaged when he was shot dead, allegedly by a student constable, the High Court in Johannesburg heard on Thursday.

16-year-old Thato Mokoka was shot dead on February 14 this year. Picture: Antoine de Ras. Credit: INLSA

Pathologist Dr Mosweu Morule, who performed the post mortem on Thato Mokoka, said the 16-year-old had a fractured skull. One of his kidneys, a lung, his spine, spleen, liver, pancreas and arteries were also severely damaged.

Mokoka was hit by shots from an R-5 rifle outside his grandmother's house in Bramfischerville, Soweto, in February.

Student Constable Sipho Mbatha has been charged with the murder. He has pleaded not guilty, and that he had no intention of shooting the boy.

The court was told Mokoka was shot at close range, meaning the gunman was less than 30cm from his body when he fired the shots.

Morule told the court he established this from the wounds, the soot and gunpowder on the body.

He could not provide the court with his pathology photographs of Mokoka, and said the computer on which they were stored was faulty.

In other evidence, ballistics expert Eugene Lurie said: “He (Mbatha) could have gotten a fright and closed his finger on the trigger, letting out more shots.”

He was responding to a scenario presented by Mbatha's lawyer, Kenneth Manyage.

Manyage said Mbatha was holding the rifle with his right hand when he bent over to search a prone Mokoka with his left. He claimed he was attempting to get Mokoka to lie still when he heard a single shot. He then tightened his grip on the firearm and more shots were fired.

Lurie said the first shot could have come from Mbatha's own rifle, but he said it was difficult to fire a single shot from an automatic R-5 rifle. - Sapa

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