A person’s life in SA is very cheap, R500 cheap, says uncle of slain Sam Mbatha as family awaits trial

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Sam Mbatha's car was found burnt to ashes.
Sam Mbatha's car was found burnt to ashes.
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A year has come and gone since he passed. And his alleged murderers will soon be facing trial.

Sam Mbatha’s family is eagerly awaiting justice to take its course and they want his alleged killers behind bars.

Sam was last seen by his family on Youth Day in 2021, when he was heading to an event, and then they received a call from the police the following day, informing them that their son’s car that was burnt to ashes. 

His body was found inside a burnt Hyundai i20 vehicle at a soccer field in Ikageng Section. They couldn’t confirm that their son was the one who was in the car after the remains were found in Klipgat in North West.

The family received the DNA confirmation from the police six months after the incident.

Meanwhile, Arthur Khoza (19), Thato Masetla (22), Junior Modise (21) and Mahlatsi Nkuna (21), were all arrested following an investigation by the police, NPA spokesperson Henry Mamothame says.

Police investigations led them to a house in the Phutha section, Klipgat on Monday, 21 June 2021, the house was searched and they found bloodstains on the floor, under, and on top of a bed as well as on the carpet.

Henry says an axe suspected to have been used during the commission of the crime was found on top of the roof of the house.

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Ga-Rankuwa Regional Court deferred the case against the four suspects to 26 July 2022 for an indictment to be provided to the defence attorneys and for a high court date to be decided on, Henry told Drum.

“Meanwhile, Junior Modise was granted free bail and warned to be present in court on the next appearance, while Thato Mosetlha’s bail hearing is set for 7 July 2022, after he initially abandoned it. Khoza and Nkuna are still out on R500 bail each," he said.

"Their bail conditions are that they must report to the Klipgat Police Station every Wednesday and Sunday between 17h00 and 18h00, and they are also barred from interfering with the state’s witnesses.”

Sam’s uncle, Cornelius Mbatha, says as a family they are taking it one day at a time; some days are better than others.

Seeing the suspects roaming the streets is heartbreaking and it tells them that Sam’s life cost little, he told Drum, adding that Sam’s mother is the one who is not doing well at the moment because even if the case is concluded and the suspects get sentenced to jail, her son will not come back.

He says when they heard that they found the suspects, they applauded the police for doing a great job. But he was surprised when they got bail of R500 each.

“We are happy that the case will go to trial. However, we are still shocked that their bail money was a mere R500. That means a person’s life in South Africa is very cheap, the dead one doesn’t have any rights, and the one who is alive gets to use his rights because R500 doesn’t make sense. They should’ve been a bit harsh with their bail. There should be fairness even if they are unemployed,” Cornelius says.

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“I live near the police station. I see these kids whenever they come to sign. How are we supposed to heal because we lost our son in their hands? This means we’ve got no right to heal. But they have the right to live and go walk around free in the community. And you can see that they do not have mercy and do not see anything wrong with what they did, they were celebrating that they got bail,” he says.

He says they are waiting for the 26 July trial date to hear how the case is moving forward and they won’t miss a day.

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