Sandile Mantsoe found guilty of Karabo Mokoena's murder
Sandile Mantsoe was found guilty on Wednesday of murdering his girlfriend‚ Karabo Mokoena‚ and disposing of her body by burning it beyond recognition.
He was further found guilty of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm related to an assault that put Mokoena in hospital on her birthday last year.
"The court is satisfied that the state has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt‚" said acting judge Peet Johnson.
Delivering judgment at the High Court‚ sitting in Johannesburg‚ Johnson said if Mokoena had indeed committed suicide as alleged by Mantsoe‚ there would have been no reason for him to conceal that.
"There was nothing to be afraid of because everyone would see what he saw and get to the same conclusion that he did. He made no alarm or told anyone that she committed suicide which would be the first thing that any sound person would have done. The last thing a person would do if he finds a loved one who has committed suicide … would be to try and exonerate themselves.
"The accused caused the body of the deceased to burn beyond recognition and then tried to conceal the fact that she was dead and he got involved in a web of lies‚" Johnson said.
"The accused went about very meticulously covering up his deed after the deceased was killed on April 28 2017. He apparently showed no emotion throughout because if he had‚ this would have been put to the witnesses‚” said Johnson.
“Thereafter [Karabo Mokoena's friend‚ Stephanie Leong] spoke to him frequently to ask about the whereabouts of Karabo but it led to nothing. He played her so well that he was co-operating in trying to find her.
"He also planned the disposal of the body carefully... The court has a strong suspicion that he might have planned her death. Without more concrete evidence‚ the only reasonable inference is that he did not plan to kill the deceased. He may have acted in that way to conceal what he had done‚" Johnson said.
Mokoena's charred remains were found in a ditch in Lyndhurst on April 29‚ 2017.
Despite pleading not guilty to all the charges‚ Mantsoe had admitted to dousing her body with petrol and pool acid before setting it alight.
He had claimed that Mokoena had committed suicide at his lavish Sandton Skye apartment by stabbing herself in the neck.
Although a post-mortem failed to determine how Mokoena had died‚ Johnson accepted that she died from a stab wound‚ saying there was no other version put before the court.
Johnson labelled Mantsoe an unreliable witness who fabricated evidence in a bid to sway the case his way.
The 28-year-old forex trader is a married father of three who‚ at the time of his relationship with Mokoena‚ was estranged from his wife.
While there was no direct evidence supporting the state's version that Mantsoe had assaulted or killed her‚ there was circumstantial evidence and the court had needed to draw an inference on whether he had committed the crime‚ Johnson said.