Cop 'confused' about Soweto teen's killing

2012-08-07 15:40
Student police Constable Sipho Mbatha, accused of shooting dead Soweto teenager Thato Mokoka, appears in the South Gauteng High Court. (Werner Beukes, Sapa)

Student police Constable Sipho Mbatha, accused of shooting dead Soweto teenager Thato Mokoka, appears in the South Gauteng High Court. (Werner Beukes, Sapa)

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Johannesburg - A policeman on Tuesday blamed confusion for his having excluded information in a statement on the killing of a Soweto teenager.

"Seeing the boy lying down in a pool of blood with all his injuries just left me confused," Constable Tshepo Mokhomola told the High Court in Johannesburg.

He was testifying in the trial of student constable Sipho Mbatha, charged with shooting dead 16-year-old Thato Mokoka outside his grandmother's house in Bramfischerville, Soweto, on February 14 this year.

Mokhomola was asked by Kenneth Monyage, for Mbatha, why he failed to mention, in a statement he submitted shortly after the murder, that Mokoka and a friend were searched.

‘Nothing that could have threatened him’

Monyage also wanted to know why Mokhomola and another officer, Clifford Mathebula, omitted the same information from their statements.

On Monday, Mokhomola told the court that Mbatha was in full control of the situation and had no reason to feel threatened by the boy he is accused of shooting.

"There's nothing that could have threatened him. Thato had surrendered. He wasn't making any moves that could have made Mbatha feel threatened," Mokhomola testified.

He was one of the six officers present when Mokoka was shot dead.

Police were at the house searching for Thato, who was allegedly part of a gang and accused of owning an illegal firearm. The firearm was never found.

Mbatha has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge. He said his R5 rifle went off accidentally as he tried to search Mokoka.

‘I decided to go back’

Mokhomola told the court that another officer searched Mokoka before he was taken out of the shack he and several other youths had been in.

"I would have expected Mbatha to have seen what was happening [Thato being searched] because he was supposed to be keeping watch [over] us and taking cover as we went in."

The court was told how another officer had said there was no firearm and suggested that they all leave, but Mbatha stayed behind.

"I decided to go back and check for the firearm and Mbatha was still holding the firearm over Mokoka.

"When I was inside, searching still, I heard the shots," Mokhomola said.
The trial continues.

- SAPA

Read more on:    sipho mbatha  |  thato mokoka  |  johannesburg  |  soweto  |  police brutality
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