Mokoena and her ex-boyfriend Sandile Mantsoe reportedly had an argument at a Sandton nightclub which led to a physical fight just hours before her death, according to a report in the Sunday Times. Mantsoe confessed to having killed her and burning her body.
The couple left the club together and Mokoena was never seen alive again. She was reported missing on 28 April.
Her body was found two days later in a patch of veld in Bramley, Johannesburg, by someone who thought her body was a burnt mannequin. She’d been necklaced to death and acid had been poured all over her, resulting in the young woman being burnt beyond recognition.
Mantsoe (27) is charged with killing the 22-year-old part-time student and defeating the ends of justice.
Police sources reveal that the accused first denied having anything to do with Mokoena’s death but panicked and confessed. He revealed how he’d murdered and disposed of his ex-girlfriend’s body.
“He said he’d stuffed her body into a bin, rolled it out and into his gold BMW, and drove to his family home in Lyndhurst in southern Johannesburg,” according to a source. “He picked up acid and a container, and drove to a filing station to buy petrol, which he used to douse Karabo’s body, in Bramley, where he buried her body.
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CCTV footage from Mantsoe’s apartment shows the couple arriving together at his flat after 1am. He then leaves the apartment in different clothes, comes back, leaves again, then returns with a bin. The footage also shows Mantsoe and two women leaving his flat with plastic bags filled with what looked like sheets.
The deceased’s father, Thabang Mokoena, said he’d called Mantsoe the day his daughter went missing and they’d agreed to meet on Saturday. But when Thabang followed up on the day, Mantsoe said he was at a funeral in Mpumalanga. “This boy has always been respectful, to the last day I spoke to him on the phone he was lying to me,” he said. “I couldn’t work or eat for days looking for her. I kept telling my colleagues something bad had happened; I could feel it. But I couldn’t go to the morgues to search for her; it was too painful.”
A source close to police also revealed that the a at the Sandton nightclub was fuelled by Mantsoe “getting fresh” with another woman.
Days before her death, both Mokoena and Mantsoe had opened a case of assault against each other. Mokoena was murdered during the investigation.
Mokoena’s younger brother Lebogang said he only saw the toxic side of his sister’s relationship earlier this year when she showed him pictures of her bruised face. “I was so sad and we agreed she would go to the cops. At some stage she started to feel sorry for this guy, but I told her not to and open a case against him,” he said.
Mokoena’s cousin Boipelo said Mantsoe seemed like a nice guy who never disrespected Mokoena in front of family or friends. “But that’s the nature of abusive relationships, where it’s hidden,” she said. “Recently Karabo told us about the abuse and that she wanted to get out. She started to work with abused women after her own attack.”
Gender activist Lisa Vetten said that although statistics related to femicide and gender-based violence were available only until 2009, there hadn’t been a decline in the number of women dying at the hands of their partners.
“One out of every 20 women killed already had a protection order against their partner, but because of police negligence, the women end up dead; a death that could have been avoided,” she said. “The major issue is the system’s barriers that hinder women from reporting violence – and when they do, it’s not taken seriously.”