Constable ‘could have committed suicide’

2012-04-18 11:30

A student constable accused of shooting dead a Soweto teenager could have committed suicide before he was arrested but did not, the Roodepoort Magistrates Court has heard.

Student Constable Sipho Mbatha (41) was applying for bail after he allegedly shot and killed 16-year-old Thato Mokoka in Braamfischerville Phase Two, Soweto, on February 14.

His lawyer Kenneth Manyage said the statement by the State that Mbatha was a threat to himself “caught the defence off-guard”.

“There is no evidence that he tried to commit suicide after the incident, or when he was informed that he would be arrested,” Manyage said. “He handed himself over to the Independent Complaints Directorate.”

In opposing bail, the State argued that if Mbatha was granted bail it would evoke a public outcry.

“The community can’t dictate to the court,” magistrate Deliza Smith responded.

Earlier, two police officials testified about allegations that Mbatha had tried to commit suicide in December.

Lieutenant Colonel Phineas Rambanduli told the court he received a phone call from Mbatha’s wife on December 16 2011. Rambanduli said when they investigated, he saw Mbatha was “very, very drunk and crying”.

“I couldn’t interview him because of his crying,” he testified.

Constable Mphambayeni Mphephu told the court he was called to Mbatha’s house that day (December 16
2011) after receiving a suicidal call.

“He (Mbatha) was at the scene. He was just quiet... his wife was the complainant,” Mphephu said. “When I arrived at their house, he (Mbatha) was drunk; he couldn’t walk and couldn’t speak.”

Mbatha was sitting in the dock, wearing a black jacket, looking down and occasionally shaking his head as the officers testified.

Mokoka was shot three times with an R5 rifle outside his grandmother Sybil Mokoka’s home. He was lying face down while being body-searched.

The bail application continues.

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