Karabo wanted to leave 'God fearing man'
Murdered 22-year-old tried desperately to escape alleged abusive relationship.
On the day she died, Karabo Mokoena’s ex-boyfriend, Sandile Mantsoe, called her to his luxury apartment in the posh Sandton Skye apartment block to “sort out” their differences.
Karabo, who had broken up with Mantsoe the previous month after allegedly being viciously beaten, agreed. She called a taxi to take her from her parents’ home in Diepkloof, Soweto – where she had moved to after the break-up – to his apartment.
That was the last time her family saw her alive.
Karabo’s uncle, Tshepo Mokoena, said her family had seen CCTV footage that showed his niece entering Mantsoe’s building, but she never left. On Thursday, he wrote on Twitter: “The boyfriend confessed. He killed and burnt my daughter.”
On Friday, Mantsoe appeared in the Johannesburg Magistrates’ Court charged with the murder of the 22-year-old Karabo.
Karabo’s family reported her missing on April 28.
The following day, her body was discovered in a shallow grave in Lyndhurst, eastern Johannesburg. She had been burnt beyond recognition. The police are still waiting for postmortem results to determine the cause of her death.
City Press spoke to two close friends of Karabo who said she fell in love with Mantsoe, who was her boyfriend for seven months, because she believed he was a “God-fearing man”.
Mantsoe (27) was born and raised in Embalenhle, Secunda, Mpumalanga. His Twitter profile states that he is an evangelist, a family man, entrepreneur, philanthropist, growth strategist and a forex trader.
Karabo found him irresistible, but her joy soon turned to pain. Her friends say she went through months of hell before she was murdered.
At the end of her tether, last month Karabo opened an assault case against Mantsoe and finally decided to leave him. Her friends had been begging her to end the relationship for months. Mantsoe then laid countercharges of assault against her.
“This is after he almost beat her to death,” said a close friend. “She opened a case and she decided to break up with him. But he didn’t take no for an answer. He refused to allow her to break up with him.”
Another friend close to the couple alleged that Mantsoe was an abusive and violent boyfriend.
“I saw him beating her several times; he was kicking her too,” the man claimed.
“During the first incident they were in a popular restaurant, and when I asked him to stop beating up a woman, he told me she was cheating with Nigerians.
“The second time I bumped into them, he was beating her again and when I tried to intervene, he said she was being unfaithful.”
The last beating the friend alleges to have witnessed was last month.
“He claimed he had crashed his expensive German car. He was so mad. And then he beat her because of it – inside the restaurant in his apartment block,” he said.
On Thursday, friends learnt that Mantsoe had been arrested for Karabo’s murder. Apparently, he believed she had been cheating on him with a Nigerian man living in the same apartment block. The friends couldn’t believe it because, as recently as Tuesday, a seemingly unfazed Mantsoe had been partying at the Kong nightclub in Rosebank, popping expensive bottles of French Champagne.
Karabo’s disappearance now made sense to her friends because a few days afterwards, they visited Mantsoe at his apartment and his carpets were wet. When they asked what had happened, he allegedly told them his fridge had leaked.
“Even though she might have cheated, as Sandile claims, she didn’t deserve to die like this. He should have left her and found himself another girlfriend,” said the man.
Karabo’s best friend Stephy Leong is devastated by her death.
Leong, who has been friends with Karabo since 2013, said yesterday that the last time she chatted to her was via WhatsApp, on the afternoon of the day she disappeared.
“The last message she sent me was: ‘I need to see you soon, very soon.’”
Unfortunately, she couldn’t see her immediately and when Leong texted her around 4pm and again at 7pm that day, Karabo did not respond. Her calls went to voicemail.
“That’s when [I realised] that something wasn’t right. The following day, we opened a case and started to search for her with the assistance of the public,” Leong said.
It was only this week that they found out it was indeed Karabo’s burnt body that had been found on April 29.
Leong is expected to testify in the murder trial.
She described her best friend as a giving and stylish person with a bubbly personality. The two were so close, they used to share wigs.
“I’ve lost a sister and a friend. In October last year, she took me to a night vigil in Pretoria. I was saved and from that day my life [hasn’t been] the same,” she said.
Leong says she knew Mantsoe well.
“Sandile used to talk about God and he knew every verse in the Bible. At their first encounter they were talking about God and this is what attracted Karabo to him,” she says.
Leong added that the first time she saw him, he was humble and she thought they would be a perfect match because of their shared religious beliefs.
“A few months into their relationship, he became a monster. He beat Karabo up several times. It was last month when Karabo decided to end the relationship,” she said.
Gauteng police spokesperson Lungelo Dlamini confirmed to City Press yesterday that Karabo and Mantsoe had laid countercharges of assault against each other before her murder. That case, Dlamini said, is now being investigated.
Mantsoe will appear in court again on May 24, where he will apply for bail.
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