Pregnant witness delays Soweto teen trial

2012-07-31 16:58

Johannesburg - The murder trial of police student constable Sipho Mbatha was postponed by the South Gauteng High Court on Tuesday after a pregnant teenage witness complained that she was tired.

Judge Kathleen Satchwell adjourned the proceedings until Wednesday.

Mbatha is accused of shooting dead Thato Mokoka, 16, outside his home on 14 February. He pleaded not guilty on Monday.

The court ruled on Tuesday that the girl testify in camera, in the presence of a handful of reporters and family of Mokoka and Mbatha.

The pregnant 15-year-old, who may not be named, told the court that she and Mokoka did not go to school the day of the shooting because it was Valentines' Day and they would not have done much at school.

That evening they were joined at Mokoko's shack by his girlfriend and another male friend.

They were sitting in his room talking when the police banged on the door, she testified.

"They came in and assaulted us, asking about a gun."

The girl said she saw a policeman put his foot on Mokoka's neck. She did not see him search Mokoka, and eventually heard gunshots.

She pointed out Mbatha as the policeman standing over Mokoka when the gun went off.

"It was him," she said.

She estimated that about six shots were fired.

The girl told the court she vowed over Mokoka's body to see justice done and his killer brought to book.

"I went to Thato [as he lay dead] and told him that those responsible for his murder would go to jail."

Cross-examined by advocate Kenneth Manyage, the girl became irritable.

On Monday, Mokoka's aunt Mpumi Mokoka told the court a group of police came knocking on her door that night, looking for her nephew.

They told her they suspected he was a member of a gang called the BWA, and that he owned a firearm.

She said she heard seven shots, but could not identify Mbatha as the person who pulled the trigger.