Constable's bail bid postponed

2012-04-18 17:57
Johannesburg - Student constable Sipho Mbatha will find out next week if he will be granted bail after allegedly shooting dead a Soweto teenager, the Roodepoort Magistrate's Court said on Wednesday.

Magistrate Deliza Smith said judgment in Mbatha's bail application would be handed down on April 25.

Earlier, the court heard Mbatha, 41, could have committed suicide before he was arrested, but he did not. Mbatha allegedly shot and killed 16-year-old Thato Mokoka in Braamfischerville Phase Two, Soweto, on February 14.

His lawyer Kenneth Manyage said the State's statement 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."

Suicidal call

In opposing bail, the State argued that if Mbatha were granted bail it would evoke a public outcry.
"The community can't dictate to the court," Smith responded.

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

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," Rambanduli said.

"I thought maybe a social worker could help Mbatha to get help... the social worker attended to him on the same day," he said.

Constable Mphambayeni Mphephu told the court he was called to Mbatha's house that day 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."

Police accused of negligence

Mbatha sat in the dock, wearing a black jacket, looking down and occasionally shaking his head as his colleagues testified.

Before postponing the matter, the magistrate noted negligence on the part of the police because there was nothing in Mbatha's file about that day, or his drinking habits.

"I think the police were negligent, regarding the fact that a social worker saw him [Mbatha] and it was not recorded," Smith said.

"They ignored the incidents and did not put it in his file. Nothing else was placed in his file."
Mbatha's wife avoided reporters outside court as she left the building.

In an earlier court appearance in March, the court heard the police had no official record of what happened on December 16.

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

Mbatha remains in police custody.

The court heard in February that, according to an affidavit by Mbatha: "Before entering the yard, we put our firearms on full automatic mode because it was our understanding that he [Mokoka] was armed."
Read more on:    police  |  sipho mbatha  |  johannesburg  |  police brutality

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