Student constable returns to court

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Johannesburg - The trial of student constable Sipho Mbatha, accused of fatally shooting a Soweto teenager during a police raid, is expected to continue in the Johannesburg High Court on Tuesday.

Mbatha allegedly killed 16-year-old Thato Mokoka in Bramfischerville, Soweto, on February 14.

The teenager was shot seven times with an R-5 rifle, while lying on the ground on his stomach outside the home of his grandmother, Sybil Mokoka.

Mbatha claims he bent over to search Mokoka when the shots went off.

The case had been postponed previously because Mbatha's lawyer, advocate Kenneth Manyage, was ill.

Constable Tshepo Mokhomola testified on Monday. He told the court Mbatha had no reason to feel threatened by Mokoka.

“There's nothing that could have threatened him. Thato had surrendered. He wasn't making any moves that could have made Mbatha feel threatened.”

Mokhomola was one of the six officers who was present when Mokoka was shot dead.

Mokhomola told the court that another officer had already searched Mokoka before he was taken out of the shack, at the back of the house, which he and several other youths had been in.

Police had been at the house searching for Mokoka, who was alleged to be part of the BWA (Boys With Advice) gang, and to own an illegal firearm.

No firearm was found.

Mbatha has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge against him. He said his R-5 rifle went off accidentally as he tried to search Mokoka, who was lying on his stomach. - Sapa

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