Johannesburg – Dead-faced and stoically looking forward, Sandile Mantsoe made his first appearance for the murder of Karabo Mokoena at the Johannesburg Magistrates Court on Friday; facing the possibility of a life sentence.
He is charged for premeditated murder and a second charge of defeating the ends of justice has also been added to the charges Mantsoe faces.
This possibly relates to him allegedly burning the mortal remains of Karabo after allegedly killing her.
Mantsoe, who was dressed in fashionable black, chequered pants and a black top, was told by the magistrate that, should he be found guilty for premeditated murder, he faces the mandatory sentence for the possible conviction; life in sentence.
The Star reported on Friday that Karabo's paternal uncle, Tshepo Mokoena, said that his niece might have opened a case of common assault against her boyfriend, but this could not be confirmed by Sandton police.
Speaking to reporters outside the court room, NPA spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said:"This forms part of the merits of the case and, as the NPA, we are not prepared to divulge information that will jeapordise our case."
Full details of the murder will emerge during the trial, Mjonondwana added.
Tshepo Mokoena told reporters outside the court room that he saw surveillance footage of the suspect's family members entering Mantsoe's Sandton apartment, and leaving with towels and linens. This has fuelled speculation that the suspect's family helped him clean up the scene of the crime; further defeating the ends of justice.
Tshepo had told The Star this week that he and some of his family had seen surveillance footage of Mantsoe allegedly disposing of his niece's body.
"We saw (surveillance) footage of him getting those big, black dustbins with wheels that are used by Pikitup, where he took the bin into the apartment, and a few hours later, he took the bin out,” he explained.
“The footage also shows Karabo came into the building and did not leave."
The rest of Karabo's family were also in court on Friday; the pain of losing their loved one in such a brutal manner visibly etched on their faces. The court ruled that the media could take photos and videos of Mantsoe, but was adamant that this was for Friday's appearance.
The family requested that media houses not take pictures or video footage of them.
The suspect was remanded in custody at the Norwood Police Station and will return to court on May 24 for formal bail applications. The State was vehement that bail would be opposed.