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Jail Thato’s killer for life: mom

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iol news pic Thato Mokoka murder

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File picture - Student Constable Sipho Mbatha has been found guilty of murdering teenager Thato Mokoka during a police raid. Picture: Ihsaan Haffejee

Johannesburg -

The mother of a murdered Soweto teenager asked the High Court in Johannesburg to show no lenience to his killer on Friday .

“Give him a life sentence,” Beverly Mokoka said of student Constable Sipho Mbatha.

She was speaking during sentencing proceedings.

Judge Kathleen Satchwell found Mbatha guilty of murdering Thato Mokoka, 16, during a police raid in Bramfischerville, Soweto, on February 14.

Police went to the Mokoka residence with two boys and two women who alleged that Mokoka was part of a gang that had been terrorising local residents. He was also accused of owning a gun. It was not found.

“When my son said 'Vader (father), vader, I don't have a gun'... As a parent, did he (Mbatha) not feel anything for him?” Mokoka's mother asked.

She said the whole family had been touched by the shooting. Most of them were still receiving counselling.

“I miss my child. I think of him day and night... It hurts to see other boys his age.”

The court was told that Mokoka's grandmother, who witnessed the shooting, was now mentally disturbed and had been admitted to hospital.

“After Thato's funeral, my mom would take a plank and go to the spot where Thato died. She'd hold the plank like a gun and act out the shooting.”

The teenager's mother told the court that while she was outside the courtroom, Mbatha's eight-year-old son was disrespectful to her.

“He lifted his (middle) finger to me and said the court favours me. He threatened to beat me up as well as the officer who was outside.”

The child was kept outside court and was being watched by a police officer.

Earlier, Mbatha broke down while on the stand and apologised to the Mokokas.

“I'm sorry about what happened... God knows it wasn't my intention,” he said between sobs.

“I can't sleep at night knowing that a child died in that manner.”

Mbatha asked the court for a suspended sentence, and said he had to take care of his unemployed wife and four children, aged between 13 years and two months old.

Social worker Lieutenant Thoko Sifunda told the court Mbatha had to be hospitalised after having a counselling session following the shooting.

She said Mbatha had diabetes and illnesses of the pancreas and liver.

State advocate David Mothibe argued that although Mbatha was ill, there were medical facilities in prison.

Satchwell said a psychiatrist had to be appointed to determine Mbatha's mental state. The matter would continue on September 17, when the defence would put the psychiatrist on the stand.

Mbatha is out on bail. - Sapa


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