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Johannesburg - A distraught student constable Sipho Mbatha told a social worker that Thato Mokoka did not deserve to die in the manner he did, the High Court in Johannesburg heard on Friday.
Lt Thoko Sifunda, who is also a social worker for the Dobsonville police station, told the court Mbatha was emotional when she visited him in jail a week after the teenager's shooting.
“His face changed when I asked him about what happened. He said 'Thoko, this was a child. He did not deserve to die in that manner',” Sifunda said.
Mbatha cried and said he did not understand what happened.
“He told me he held the gun, but he couldn't understand how it went off,” Sifunda testified.
She was speaking during arguments in mitigation of Mbatha's sentencing, after he was found guilty earlier on Friday of killing Mokoka.
Sifunda said Mbatha kept saying he wondered how the family was doing, what they were feeling, or what was going through their minds.
“I don't remember him saying he wanted to apologise, but he kept saying he was concerned about them.”
Sifunda told the court she went to see him again in prison on March 14.
“He was happy to see me. He lightened up like a child when he saw me.”
The court was told Mbatha was admitted to hospital after the session as he suffered from diabetes and illnesses of the pancreas and liver.
State advocate David Mothibe argued that although he acknowledged Mbatha was ill, there were medical facilities in prison.
In finding Mbatha guilty, Judge Kathleen Satchwell said: “The barrel of the gun wasn't pointed at his feet or legs. The gun was pointed at his head and back. Any shooting would have resulted in death, not injury.”
Mokoka, 16, was shot dead during a police raid at his grandmother's house in Braamfischerville, Soweto, on February 14. Mbatha's R-5 rifle discharged as he bent over to search a prone Mokoka.
Sentencing continues. - Sapa