State wraps up student constable case

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(File photo) Constable Sipho Mbatha. Picture:Itumeleng English

Johannesburg -

The State closed its case on Monday against student Constable Sipho Mbatha, who is accused of shooting dead a Soweto teenager earlier in the year.

Kenneth Manyage, for Mbatha, told the court his client would not testify in his own defence.

The judge accepted the motion.

“An accused has the right to remain silent and not give evidence. Hopefully your lawyer explained the implications of this,” said Judge Kathleen Satchwell.

Manyage earlier put it to witnesses that Mbatha contended that his R-5 rifle, which was on automatic, went off when he bent over to search Thato Mokoka.

Mbatha had heard a shot and tightened his grip on his rifle, unintentionally pulling the trigger.

However, Satchwell said this would not be considered, because Mbatha had not taken to the stand to give his version of events.

She would also not consider evidence given last week by an expert who agreed with Manyage's version of events.

“The question is: what do the facts add up to and what kind of intentions are we looking at,” said Satchwell.

She said the court had not been given a solid argument of negligence.

She is expected to deliver her verdict this week.

Mbatha is accused of shooting dead Mokoka, 16, while he lay on his stomach outside his grandmother's house on February 14.

Police had gone to the Mokoka residence, in Bramfischerville, with two boys and two women who alleged that the teenager was part of a gang which was terrorising the community. They also alleged that Mokoka owned a gun.

A witness, who was a friend of Mokoka's, told the court that Mokoka was part of a group of boys who called themselves Boys With Advices. She denied that they had terrorised the community.

The gun police were looking for on that day was not found.

Mbatha has pleaded not guilty.

The case continues on Wednesday. - Sapa


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