Twenty-two-year-old Karabo Mokoena, who was allegedly murdered and her corpse burnt and disposed by her boyfriend Sandile Mantsoe, was laid to rest today (Friday) at Diepkfloof Hall in Soweto, South Africa.
Twenty-seven-year-old Sandile Mantsoe is said to be an evangelist who also traded in foreign currency. He and Karabo had only dated for seven months.
Karabo’s family and friends reportedly witnessed the burial.
The funeral service was a unique one, reports say, as people from all walks of life, including a group called ‘Men of Hope,’ gathered around her white coffin with placards carrying various messages, such as: “Stand against corruption, women abuse and child abuse.”
Karabo’s corpse was found on April 29; it was burnt beyond recognition in a ditch in Lyndhurst.
South African gospel singer Deborah Fraser sang a musical tribute at the funeral.
The burial was graced by ANC Women’s League President, Bathabile Dlamini; Minister for Women, Susan Shabangu; and Gauteng Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi.
Her boyfriend, Sandile Mantsoe, has been charged with “premeditated murder and defeating the ends of justice.”
His matter was postponed to May 24, while he will remain in custody at the Norwood police station.
How it all started
Her boyfriend, Sandile Mantsoe, reportedly denied he murdered her, but did admit to getting rid of her body after supposedly “finding her dead” in his apartment.
On Sunday, April 30, the story of the murder of Karabo Mokoena continued to dominate the headlines, with numerous media reports providing more insight into the alleged circumstances that led to her murder, and the details surrounding it.
The 22-year-old was in an allegedly abusive relationship with her 27-year-old boyfriend, Sandile Mantsoe, a forex trader and evangelist, who has been charged with her murder.
City Press claims that Mantsoe called her to his luxury Sandton Skye apartment to “sort out their differences” on the day she died. However, other newspapers report that they arrived together after having an argument at a night club in Sandton.
Tales of severe beating and other abuse
City Press reports that despite the fact that Mantsoe had allegedly beaten her badly the previous month and they had broken up as a result, she agreed, and went. They had dated for seven months and Karabo was said to have been deeply in love with him, believing he was a “God-fearing man.”
Karabo’s uncle, Tshepo Mokoena, says CCTV footage indicates that she was seen entering the building but never leaving it.
Her body was discovered several days later in a shallow grave in Bramley, burnt beyond recognition.
Karabo’s friends told the media that she had endured months of abuse at the hands of her boyfriend, saying that she had endured more than one beating at his hands. He apparently believed that she was being unfaithful.
The friends told City Press that they had noticed Mantsoe’s “carpets were wet” when they went to visit him following Karabo’s disappearance. Mantsoe told them his fridge had leaked.
The police confirmed to all newspapers that Karabo and her alleged killer had laid counter-charges of assault against each other during the period of their relationship. The Sunday Times has, however, reported that according to a highly placed source, the police had been unwilling to investigate the counter-claims, and told the couple to “work it out.”
Karabo’s younger brother showed the Sunday Times a shocking photo of how badly she had once been beaten by her boyfriend.
According to Sunday World, Mantsoe allegedly loaded Karabo’s body in a wheely bin, loaded it in his BMW and then picked up a tyre, acid and a petrol container from his family home. He then proceeded to the location where the burnt remains were found.
They claim that these details can be found in the affidavit Mantsoe deposed to this week in which he allegedly confessed to getting rid of the body, but denies killing his girlfriend.
They allege that the two had argued earlier at a club, and the argument continued at his apartment.
They report that Mantsoe has claimed he “doesn’t know who killer her” but that he had panicked because he believed that people would think he was responsible for her death.
The Sunday Times has also reported the two had argued at a Sandton nightclub hours before Karabo’s death. They also report that he says he doesn’t know who actually killed her.
The Sunday Times added the detail that “two women” can be seen on CCTV footage at the Sandton Skye building “leaving the house with plastic bags that seem to be filled with sheets. Mantsoe leaves the house with the body at around 2pm the next day.”
They report that Karabo and Mantsoe had arrived together at the apartment at 1am.
A source told the Sunday Times that the nightclub fight was prompted by Mantsoe allegedly flirting with another woman.
‘I thought it was a burnt mannequin’
Passerby initially thought Karabo’s body was a burnt mannequin. A Lyndhurst resident said he was walking through a veld on the morning of April 29 when he saw what he thought was a burned mannequin.
But it turned out to be Karabo Mokoena.
Floyd Kekana said he was walking towards Bramley just before 7am when he saw charred feet in the veld on 1st Avenue.
“I assumed it was a burned mannequin, as people use the place as an illegal dumping spot and often burn their rubbish. I only saw the bottom half of the body as the top half was burned tyres and the head wasn’t visible,” he said.
When he arrived at his friend’s place a few houses away from the scene, he alerted him of the bizarre sight.
“We went back and confirmed it was a body. We called the police at around 7am but they didn’t arrive. We then left the scene and, when we returned around noon, we found the police there.
“They didn’t take my statement but took a statement from my friend as he lived closest to the scene,” he said.
He said he only realised it was Mokoena when, on Thursday, he saw media at the veld where he first saw the burned body.
According to police, Mokoena was discovered by a security guard.
Mokoena was reported missing on April 28 and her body was found the following day in Lyndhurst.
Her boyfriend, Sandile Mantsoe, was arrested on Thursday. Mokoena’s uncle, Tshepo, said on Facebook that Mantsoe had confessed to killing and burning her body.
Her uncle said he ‘necklaced’ her by soaking her with petrol and put a tyre around her neck before setting her alight.
The 27-year-old accused appeared before the Johannesburg Magistrates’ Court on Friday, facing charges of premeditated murder and defeating the ends of justice.
His matter was postponed to May 24 while he will remain in custody at the Norwood police station.
The suspect, Sandile Mantsoe
Karabo Mokoena’s boyfriend is said to have been quiet, reserved and dedicated to studying while he was a student at Highveld High Park School in Mpumalanga.
A source who went to the same high school as Sandile Mantsoe said he matriculated the same time as him in 2007.
According to Ridge Times, the source revealed that Mantsoe was dedicated to studying and kept to himself most of the time.
Mantsoe also grew up in eMbalenhle, Secunda, in Mpumalanga. Stephanie Long, Mokoena’s friend, told The Star that Mantsoe was deeply religious and would quote Bible verses verbatim.
“He was a smooth talker and had his way around everything. He was always neat and put together,” Long said.
Another woman who went to the University of Johannesburg with Mantsoe said his religious beliefs influenced his studies so much so that, in graphic design class, he would refuse to draw a naked body.
“Everything was based on religion with him; he would refuse to do certain things if he felt something was not righteous in the eyes of God.”
His next court appearance is scheduled for May 24. He has requested to be held at the Norwood Police Station. Mokoena’s family members told media that they had seen CCTV footage of Mantsoe taking linen out of his home the day of her murder.
According to reports, CCTV footage indicates that members of Mantsoe’s family may have assisted him in allegedly getting rid of the body and other evidence of the crime.
CITIZEN MAGAZINE/THE CITIZEN (SOUTH AFRICA)