Crucial last minute evidence delays Sandile Mantsoe’s trial

19 March 2018 - 12:07 By Naledi Shange
Sandile Mantsoe, the man accused of killing Karabo Mokoena in his first appearance in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court. File photo.
Sandile Mantsoe, the man accused of killing Karabo Mokoena in his first appearance in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court. File photo.
Image: Naledi Shange

The state on Monday again postponed the trial of Sandile Mantsoe‚ alleged to have killed his on-and-off girlfriend Karabo Mokoena‚ saying it had learnt of some crucial evidence it needed finalised prior to commencing the trial.

“We learnt of this evidence on Thursday last week‚” said state advocate Pakanyiswa Marasela‚ adding that they expected expert witnesses to have briefed them further. “The [police] captain from Pretoria informed us at 9:10am that the analysts who were meant to come and consult with him are still in Durban on another matter‚” Marasela said‚ requesting a postponement.

This is the second piece of crucial evidence that the state alleged had popped up at the eleventh hour. Proceedings were postponed on March 5 after the state also said it had new evidence that it needed to follow up on.

Marasela told the court that while this evidence could be ready by next week‚ she did not believe it would be a good idea to commence with the trial then. “We cannot start next week because it is close to the end of the term. Next week is also short because of Good Friday‚” she added.

Mantsoe's advocate Victor Simelane said he could not oppose the state’s application for a postponement as this could also prove to crucial for his case. “I was informed this morning about this piece of evidence‚” Simelane said.

“When matter was put on trial‚ we were told that investigations are complete but pieces of evidence are popping up here and there. I cannot properly represent my client without this evidence and it is not possible for me to oppose the application and then later complain about being ambushed‚” said Simelane.

“From that day when we should have gone on trial‚ the state has indicted that there are two crucial pieces of evidence which are still not in our hands‚” he added. “I need every piece of evidence before I can proceed with the trial.”

Mantsoe’s case was transferred from the Magistrate's Court to the High Court on August 31 2017. A pre-trial hearing was held on September 15th where the state had indicated it was ready to proceed with the trial.

Judge Colleen Collis said it was crucial for this matter to be finalised. “There is a huge public interest in this matter and they need to know what is causing the details‚” she said.

The matter was postponed to April 16‚ which would be the start of a 15-day trial.

Mantsoe faces charges of premeditated murder‚ defeating the ends of justice and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.