926 30.07.2012 Student constable Sipho Mbatha, who shot and killed 16 year old Thato Mokoka early this year. Appears before the Johannesburg High Court for the murder of Mokoka. Mbatha (said this in his evidence) apparently shot and killed the 16 year old as the gun he was carrying went off mistakenly and firing 8 bullets to the young man’s body at his home in Braamfisherville in Soweto. Picture:Itumeleng English

Johannesburg -

Convicted student constable Sipho Mbatha broke down and asked for forgiveness from the Mokoka family in the High Court in Johannesburg on Friday.

“I've never killed a person before... I'm sorry to the Mokoka family. This was not my intention,” he said.

“When I left home that day, I was going to work. I didn't intend to kill anyone.”

Throughout the trial, Mbatha had refused to take to the stand, waiving his right to give an account of what happened when he shot and killed 16-year-old Thato Mokoka outside his home in Braamfischerville, Soweto, on February 14.

Mbatha asked the court to hand him a suspended sentence on Friday.

“I'd ask the court, although it would hurt the Mokoka family, that I be handed a suspended sentence so I can take care of my children.”

He told the court that he had four children aged 13, eight, four and two-months-old.

Mbatha said his wife was not working and would not be able to provide for the family.

Prosecutor David Mothibe said Mbatha was crying because he was now going to jail.

Mbatha replied: “No, I'm crying because a child died, I am a parent myself.”

He said he had wanted to apologise but certain reasons prevented him from doing so.

“Initially, I didn't get a chance to apologise because I was in prison. When I saw them in court, I could see they were still angry because they would make utterancess which I would ignore,” said Mbatha.

“In fact, the uncle, (Russel Mokoka) made death threats against me.”

Earlier, a psychologist told the court Mbatha was emotional following the incident.

Lt Thoko Sifunda consulted with him in jail a week after the 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',” said Sifunda.

The court was told Mbatha was admitted to hospital after the session since he suffered from diabetes and illnesses of the pancreas and liver.

Mothibe acknowledged that Mbatha was ill, but said there were proper medical facilities in prison.

Mbatha was found guilty of the murder of Thato Mokoka earlier on Friday.

Sentencing arguments continue. - Sapa