Sis­ter sorry for fam­ily of a mur­derer

She can’t for­give Karabo’s killer but has sym­pa­thy for the shame he has brought

Sunday Times - - News Femicide - By NALEDI SHANGE [email protected]­day­

● Karabo Mokoena’s sis­ter says she has sym­pa­thy for the killer’s fam­ily be­cause they prob­a­bly feel hu­mil­i­ated.

Sandile Mantsoe was this week sen­tenced to 32 years in jail for Karabo’s mur­der.

“They of­ten didn’t come to court and I feel sorry for them be­cause they were prob­a­bly em­bar­rassed by the whole sit­u­a­tion,” said Bon­tle Mokoena of the Mantsoe fam­ily.

A year af­ter her younger sis­ter’s grue­some death, Bon­tle bat­tles with the grim daily re­minders.

“We used to share a room so I still have her twin bed next to mine. I’ve been think­ing of get­ting rid of the bed.”

Af­ter the mur­der she strug­gles with her own trust is­sues.

“I’ve al­ways been scep­ti­cal about boys, but this has made it more dif­fi­cult for me to meet some­one.”

On Thurs­day, Bon­tle, her fam­ily and some of Karabo’s friends sat be­hind Mantsoe in the court as Act­ing Judge Peet John­son la­belled him a devil in dis­guise, cold-hearted, a dis­grace to men and a dan­ger to so­ci­ety.

Mantsoe, a 28-year-old for­eign-ex­change dealer who claimed to be an evan­ge­list­turned-pas­tor, was found guilty of beat­ing Karabo, killing her and burn­ing her body in April last year.

“The court got the im­pres­sion when you tes­ti­fied that you were in fact claim­ing to be the vic­tim, with­out any re­gard for the de­ceased, her fam­ily or her friends,” said John­son.

Mantsoe, who had smiled and spo­ken with his fam­ily from the dock, was stone­faced as John­son de­liv­ered the sen­tence.

The 32-year sen­tence brought to an end a har­row­ing year for the Mokoena fam­ily af­ter Karabo’s re­mains were found in a ditch not far away from Mantsoe’s mother’s house in Lyn­d­hurst, Jo­han­nes­burg.

Her painted toe­nails were the only way the Mokoe­nas were able to iden­tify her be­cause her en­tire body had been de­stroyed by

I feel sorry for them be­cause they were prob­a­bly em­bar­rassed by the whole sit­u­a­tion Bon­tle Mokoena El­der sis­ter of the mur­dered Karabo Mokoena

the pool acid and petrol-fu­elled flames that had en­gulfed her.

“We didn’t do any­thing to com­mem­o­rate the one-year an­niver­sary of her death. We would rather cel­e­brate her life,” Bon­tle said.

De­spite choos­ing not to give the court de­tails on how Karabo had died, Mantsoe, who wore ex­pen­sive suits, shoes and de­signer tops, took to the stand to plead for a le­nient sen­tence, say­ing he “taught Karabo how to open doors for her­self”.

He told the court he had con­tin­ued to share the gospel in prison.

Dur­ing the trial, Mantsoe’s ver­sion of events were de­liv­ered by his lawyer, Vic­tor Sime­lane.

In the lawyer’s ver­sion, Mantsoe be­lieved Karabo to be money-hun­gry, sui­ci­dal and a troubled soul who had been raped by a friend, abused by her fa­ther and exboyfriends, and was haunted by a mis­car­riage.

Bon­tle said: “I don’t think you can ever for­give some­one who shows that they do not care.”

Her fa­ther, Tha­bang Mokoena, said it had brought in­de­scrib­able pain to bury her re­mains.

Mantsoe main­tained that Karabo had ended her own life by plung­ing a knife into her neck. He said he had pan­icked and dis­posed of her body in­stead of call­ing au­thor­i­ties.

Mantsoe’s de­fence did not to call any wit­nesses. Sime­lane said the state did not have a strong case.

Karabo’s friend Stephanie Leong told the court about the cou­ple’s toxic re­la­tion­ship. She said she had seen CCTV footage from Mantsoe’s apart­ment, cap­tured around the time that Karabo was killed.

In it Mantsoe was seen leav­ing his apart­ment with a woman, car­ry­ing refuse bags.

But as the state and the de­fence had struck a deal not to play the footage in the court, it was never es­tab­lished whether some­one had helped him clean the mur­der scene.

Con­sta­ble Mok­gaetji Mah­wete tes­ti­fied that Mantsoe had told her he killed Karabo as a blood rit­ual to boost his for­eign ex­change busi­ness.

The judge dis­re­garded her ev­i­dence. Queen Lebo Mkhize, a friend from church, said the con­sta­ble’s the­ory sup­ported her be­lief that Karabo had been killed be­cause of her spir­i­tu­al­ity, which she said “dimmed the dark­ness”.

Mantsoe is ex­pected to ap­peal.

Pic­ture of Mantsoe: Alais­ter Russell

Mur­derer Sandile Mantsoe winks in court, left, and a snap­shot of his vic­tim, Karabo Mokoena.

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