Johannesburg - Murder suspect Sandile Mantsoe bragged about his riches when he testified for the first time on Wednesday – only for the day to end with the State having a stronger case against him.
The suavely dressed Mantsoe’s world appeared to fall apart when the court accepted a strong plea from the prosecutors that his admission to brutally killing Karabo Mokoena be accepted as credible evidence.
The unfazed Mantsoe boasted that “not anyone could afford my lifestyle”. He claimed to be so rich that police Captain Bhekisisa Mhlongo tried to solicit a bribe from him to quash the case.
Mhlongo, who is an officer stationed at Diepkloof police station in Soweto, had earlier testified in the high court in Joburg that Mantsoe admitted to him that he killed his 22-year-old girlfriend.
The admission, Mhlongo said, occurred at Sandton police station on May 10 last year, the day Mantsoe was arrested.
Mantsoe, with a deadpan look on his face, took the stand to dispute Mhlongo’s assertions, saying the captain had tried to get a bribe from him.
“He (Mhlongo) said: ‘I can see you’re a good boy; you work for yourself and have acquired nice things. If you give me something small (a bribe), I can release you from custody’,” said Mantsoe, to loud gasps from the gallery.
The murder accused further startled the court by saying that he lived a luxurious lifestyle, which had pushed Mhlongo to solicit a bribe from him.
However, Judge AJ Johnson accepted Mhlongo’s testimony, allowing Mantsoe’s admission to the police that he killed Mokoena as evidence in the trial.
A stoic-looking Mantsoe remained emotionless after the judge’s ruling.
Phindi Mjonondwane, Gauteng spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority, said they welcomed the ruling, adding it had strengthened the State’s case.
“We are happy with the court’s decision because it says the admissibility of that evidence will make our job a whole lot easier,” Mjonondwane told The Star.
But Mjonondwane cautioned that this wasn’t the end of the trial, asserting that more work needed to be done.
“This ruling doesn’t mean that this is a definite conviction of the offence itself. The State still has to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
“So that piece of evidence only helps to boost the State’s case. But the State must still continue to prove its case,” Mjonondwane added.
Constable Helen Mahwete delivered a harrowing testimony of Mokoena’s disfigured body, which was found in a ditch that the deceased had been placed in after she was murdered in April last year.
Mahwete said Mokoena’s burnt remains were discovered by a construction worker who worked near the crime scene.
“The body was burnt beyond recognition. You couldn’t even see whether it was male or female,” she recalled.
Mahwete also gave a graphic description of the ditch in which Mokoena’s lifeless body was found, saying it was littered with piles of rubbish from a nearby informal settlement.
Two container lids smelling of petrol, a bloodstained blanket and a bloodied plastic bag were found around Mokoena’s charred remains, Mahwete said.
Mantsoe has pleaded not guilty to the killing of Mokoena, and claimed she had committed suicide.
However, he has admitted to disposing of her body, saying he had done so out of fear of the murder being pinned on him.