Cop who shot unarmed Soweto teen set to appeal sentence
Naledi Shange | 2017-03-28 15:41:39.0
On duty SAPS member. File photo.
Image by: Daniel Born
A policeman who unleashed a hail of bullets on an unarmed teenager in Soweto‚ instantly killing him‚ is set to appeal his sentence.
Sipho Mbatha‚ who was student constable at the time‚ is due appeal in the South Gauteng High Court on Wednesday.
In 2012‚ he was sentenced to 17 years‚ five of which were suspended‚ for killing Thato Mokoka.
He and other officers had raided Mokoka’s backroom at his home following allegations that the 16-year-old had a gun.
Mbatha had placed his foot on Mokoka’s head and held his R5 rifle towards the teen who lay flat on the ground.
Mbatha’s version was that Mokoka jerked and this caused him to accidentally fire a stream of bullets into the teens’ back and skull. The weapon had not been placed in secure mode.
Mokoka’s uncle‚ Russel said they had heard of Mbatha’s quest to get out of jail.
“We have forgiven him… He wrote a letter apologising‚ asking to see me face to-face. I went to the prison in Pretoria and he cried and apologised‚” Mokoka told Times Media.
“I sometimes speak to him on Sundays. He calls me and I tell him all the time to pray.”
While Mokoka wouldn’t be attending the proceedings on Wednesday‚ he claimed he would not have a problem if the man who took his nephew’s life was released from prison.
Throughout the trial‚ Mbatha had apologised to the Mokoka family‚ saying he had accidentally killed the teen.
When delivering her judgment‚ Judge Kathleen Satchwell said that Mbatha did not kill Mokoka for personal gain.
She expressed her difficulty in reaching judgment as Mbatha did not testify during the trial to explain what had actually happened.
Satchwell said that had Mbatha testified‚ he would have probably been convicted of culpable homicide instead of murder.
– TMG Digital