Unremorseful, a danger to society: Karabo Mokoena’s killer gets 32 years

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The South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg found Sandile Mantsoe guilty of killing his ex-girlfriend, Karabo Mokoena. Mantsoe stabbed Mokoena and tried to hide the murder by burning her body. Picture: Trevor Kunene
The South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg found Sandile Mantsoe guilty of killing his ex-girlfriend, Karabo Mokoena. Mantsoe stabbed Mokoena and tried to hide the murder by burning her body. Picture: Trevor Kunene

More than a year after Karobo Mokoena’s burnt remains were discovered in a veld in Lyndhurst, the man convicted for her murder, Sandile Mantsoe, was sentenced to an effective 32 years in prison today.

Mantsoe was sentenced to five years for assault, 30 years for murder and four years for defeating the ends of justice.

Presiding officer Peet Johnson said that, in the interest of mercy, two years of the five years on count one and four years on count three would run concurrently with the sentence for murder.

Handing down his verdict at the South Gauteng High Court today, Johnson said that Mantsoe, who was involved in a seven-month romantic relationship with Mokoena, deserved a harsh sentence.

“You even attacked her father, in your statement that you made, and accused him of abusiveness towards her. This allegation was refuted by the deceased’s sister. You deserve nothing less than a harsh punishment,” Johnson said, as he looked Mantsoe sternly in the eye.

“For you, it cannot be business as usual anymore. You caused an imbalance in the scale of justice, and that imbalance must now be corrected by imposing a sentence,” Johnson said.

Before handing down the sentence, Johnson referred to Mantsoe as “a danger to society”, given that he appeared to show no remorse for his actions.

“Your actions have also had a serious effect on the life of the mother of the deceased. It seems from the evidence that they were a close-knit family. She described the pain that she had to go through since [her daughter died and] still on an ongoing basis,” Johnson explained.

Earlier in the day, Mokoena’s mother, Keabetswe Mokoena, testified about the pain that she felt after finding out that her daughter had died.

“I didn’t think she would die. I thought maybe we would find that she was kidnapped and tied up somewhere,” she said, as she struggled to hold back tears.

Mokoena had taken photos of herself after an incident in which Mantsoe had physically abused her, and Keabetswe had asked her daughter on several occasions why she didn’t leave him.

“I would say to her, ‘why don’t you leave him when you are being beaten?’ and Karabo would just dismiss me and say ‘no mummy, I love him’.”

She added that what she observed between her daughter and Mantsoe was not love, and that when she met him, he did not “give eye contact”.

Mantsoe was given the opportunity this morning to testify, and he referred to Mokoena as trying to “escape from her past”.

“I’m very remorseful, because I knew a lot of things about her. She was trying to escape from [a lot]. She was trying to pursue a life of spirituality. Both her and I were very secretive people, so we shared a lot of things. I feel in a sense I wasn’t patient enough. She wanted me to settle down and I didn’t want to settle down,” he said.

Johnson said that Mantsoe had sought to “malign” Mokoena.

“In an attempt to escape responsibility you maligned the deceased and attacked her character,” Johnson said.

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