Karabo Mokoena
Johannesburg - Now that the media ban preventing reportage on Sandile Mantsoe’s case has been lifted, the alleged ritualistic motive for Karabo Mokoena’s murder can be revealed.

Mantsoe stands accused of killing Mokoena, his girlfriend, after she went missing on April 28, her disappearance sparking a national conversation on violence against women.

Her charred remains were found soon after in a shallow grave in Lyndhurst.

Before Friday’s court ruling, the testimony of the investigating officer, Captain Phillip Radebe, on May 24, laying out what he called the State’s “very strong” case against the accused, could not be reported.

According to Radebe, Mantsoe and Mokoena broke up in April after the accused “brutally assaulted” her. On the night of April 27, Mantsoe was seen entering his home at Sandton Skye Apartments with Mokoena. It was the last time she was ever seen alive.

On May 10, Mokoena’s anxious family asked police to question Mantsoe, with the boyfriend denying any knowledge of her whereabouts.

Sandile Mantsoe is charged with killing his girlfriend Karabo Mokoena and dumping her body. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha

According to Radebe, after arresting Mantsoe, he confessed that after killing her, he had taken Karabo’s body to a veld in the Bramley area where he put a tyre on it, doused it with swimming pool acid and petrol, and then set it alight. Mantsoe later pointed out where he had committed the gruesome act.

“It’s still unclear whether the deceased was alive or not at the time (Mantsoe) burned her; the post-mortem report is still outstanding,” said Radebe.

He said that Mantsoe had confessed to the motive behind the crime as well.

He said Mantsoe - after he fell in love with Mokoena - had introduced her to a ritual where they mixed blood to bond, but also to ensure his business as a forex trader would succeed.

The pair also allegedly got matching cross-shaped tattoos. “The applicant’s business was no longer doing well after he and the deceased terminated their affair,” said Radebe, saying that Mantsoe believed he been jinxed after the break-up.

Radebe said Mantsoe decided “he had no option but to sacrifice the deceased and cut the bond.”

However, in Mantsoe’s own affidavit submitted to the court, he said he had only found Mokoena’s body after leaving her at his apartment for about two hours on April 28. “I went back to my apartment on or around 5.30 to 6pm. On arrival, I found Karabo on the carpet lying there motionless. I checked for a pulse but there was none, she was gone,” read his statement.

“I panicked. I was so scared that everyone was going to think I killed her as I was already being painted as an abusive boyfriend. However, that is very far from the truth as it was the other way around,” he said.

In his panic, he went to look for a dustbin to transport her body to his car, where he admitted to burning the body with petrol.

“I know I could have called the police but I could not think straight. Karabo had been suicidal for a while. A couple of weeks back, she tried to commit suicide by taking a lot of pills but she was saved by me and the security guard who opened the apartment.”

In a supplementary statement submitted on Friday to the court, Mantsoe denied the ritualistic aspects claimed by the State, and said he was willing to show the court that he had never had a cross-shaped tattoo.

He also insisted he had been coerced into pointing out the body, and that his statement was only given under the threat that police officers would assault him. He said he was not a flight risk, nor a danger to the community, and would not intimidate witnesses.

When Mantsoe’s bail application began on May 24 at the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court, an application was brought by both the State and defence to bar the media from reporting on proceedings.

In an unusual turn, magistrate Carlo Labuschagne barred reporters from reporting on any details surrounding the case.

However, on Friday, after negotiation with Mantsoe’s legal team, the National Prosecuting Authority and lawyers representing Times Live, who brought the application, the ban was lifted.

The bail application continues on June 30.

Saturday Star