Johannesburg - A Joburg metro police department officer who allegedly killed his girlfriend and her lover in a fit of rage suffers from bipolar disorder and had stopped taking his medication.
This is according to his legal representative, advocate Thapelo Mokabe, who said outside court on Friday that this had caused his client to act “unconsciously”.
These revelations have yet to be heard in court.
The officer, Siphiwe Mbatha, is on trial in the South Gauteng High Court in Joburg. He has already undergone mental observation, which determined he did not suffer from mental illness.
Last week, he pleaded guilty to all the charges against him: two murders, attempted murder, kidnapping and malicious damage to property.
But Judge Lucy Mailula rejected his plea because Mbatha said he had had a “blackout” and could not remember most of the events.
He is alleged to have kidnapped and killed his girlfriend, Elaine Lenong, murdered her lover, Tumelo Michael Thosago, and shot a 6-year-old neighbour in December 2012.
On Friday, Mokabe said they faced a problem because their medical expert, who would file a new report on Mbatha’s mental condition, was attending a conference in the US.
He said they would most likely use the expert’s report as a mitigating factor during sentencing arguments.
Mokabe said Mbatha had stopped taking his medication for bipolar disorder, and the “extreme nature” of the argument he had with Lenong about her relationship with Thosago had triggered the blackout.
He said this is known as “psychogenic automatism”, where a person acts without intent or conscious thought.
Mokabe was unsure why the report on the mental observation Mbatha underwent at a psychiatric hospital last November said he did not have a mental illness, but was confident their medical expert could prove their case.
An independent advocate, who asked not to be named, said this was a complex problem, which would have to be adequately proven in court by the defence if they were to be successful.
The advocate said that if they were able to prove that Mbatha was mentally incapacitated, there was a strong chance he could serve out his sentence in a mental institution rather than in jail.