Karabo Mokoena's sister feels sorry for Sandile Mantsoe's family
Bontle Mokoena can't forgive her sister's murderer, but has sympathy for the shame he has brought to his family
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 evangelist-turned-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 stone-faced 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 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 ex-boyfriends, 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...