I saw no assault, cop says in shooting trial

2012-08-06 14:37
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 police officer on Monday denied claims that his colleagues assaulted Soweto teenager Thato Mokoka before he was shot dead.

"I did not see anyone being assaulted," Constable Clifford Mathebula testified in the South Gauteng High Court on Monday.

A 15-year-old pregnant girl told the court last week police officers beat her when they entered a shack where she, Mokoka, another boy, and a girl had been sitting.

Mathebula was present when Mokoka was shot dead outside his grandmother's house in Bramfischerville, Soweto, on February 14 this year, allegedly by student Constable Sipho Mbatha.

The 16-year-old was suspected of being part of a gang called the BWA (Boys with Advices), and of owning an illegal firearm.

Mbatha, on trial for the murder, has denied guilt. He said his rifle went off by accident while he was trying to search the teenager, who was face-down on the ground.

Last week, Mathebula told the court he had told his colleagues shortly before the shooting there was no gun in Mokoka's shack. The constable suggested they should leave, but his colleagues did not respond. Shortly thereafter, an R-5 rifle went off, killing the boy.

Mathebula identified Mbatha as the officer who held the gun over Mokoka.

The trial continues.
- SAPA
Read more on:    police  |  sipho mbatha  |  thato mokoka  |  johannesburg  |  soweto  |  police brutality
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