Student cop’s conviction welcomed

Johannesburg - The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) welcomed the murder conviction of student Constable Sipho Mbatha on Friday.

Spokesman Moses Dlamini said the outcome of the trial sent a message to police officials to be more careful when using their firearms.

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

“When police take out their weapons, they must understand the implications,” Dlamini said.

The High Court in Johannesburg on Friday found Mbatha guilty of murdering 16-year-old Thato Mokoka on February 14 in a raid at the home of his grandmother in Bramfischerville, Soweto.

Mbatha claimed he did not intentionally kill Mokoka, but that his R-5 rifle, which had been set on automatic, accidentally went off when he bent over to search Mokoka while he lay face down on the ground.

“I'm sorry about what happened... God knows it wasn't my intention,” he told the court.

Judge Kathleen Satchwell postponed sentencing proceedings to September 17, when a psychiatrist would testify about Mbatha's state of mind. - Sapa