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Sandile Mantsoe placed in same prison section with hardcore criminals, here is how he will be spending his days

Sandile Mantsoe accused of murdering Karabo Mokoena

Convicted murder Sandile Mantsoe will be housed in the maximum section of the Johannesburg Correctional Centre, also known as Sun City.

South Gauteng High Court Acting Judge Peet Johnson sentenced Mantsoe to 32 years in prison yesterday for killing his lover Karabo Mokoena on 28 April 2017.

Mantsoe's first day of his 11,680 days in prison was expected to begin with his first roll call and a let out from his cell at 7am today. By then he would have bathed, dressed up and cleaned his cell. He would then be given breakfast, which is normally porridge and coffee or juice.

The next meal at 11am consists of meat, starch and vegetables. His last meal would be at 3pm, which would be six slices of bread and beverage. After this he and his fellow prisoners will be escorted back to their cells. The last roll call for the day will then be done and they will be locked up.

Department of Correctional Services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said Mantsoe would spend the first 21 days of his sentence undergoing a range of assessments.

"The assessments will determine which programmes are suitable for him. This serves as a contract between the inmate and the department that both parties will be working towards the inmate's rehabilitation," Nxumalo said.

Yesterday prior to Mantsoe's sentencing, his lawyer Victor Simelane had fought tooth and nail to get him the minimum prescribed sentence of 15 years, saying there were different programmes in prison that could help him come to terms with his actions.

"It is clear that the accused can still contribute immensely to society. I am aware that he has been found guilty of murder but even so, I urge this court to assist the accused because he does need assistance," Simelane said.

He referred the court to the case of Thandi Maqubela who was found guilty of murdering her husband, acting judge Patrick Maqubela. Johnson, however, said that case could not be taken into consideration because Maqubela's sentence and conviction for murder were later overturned.

She had been accused of orchestrating the murder of her husband in June 2009. Simelane said the matters were similar as they both involved couples who were in love but had issues.

But Johnson posed an important question to Simelane: "How do you rehabilitate a person that is in denial?"

Simelane answered: "After some time, it actually sinks in and the person is able to later meet with the family, sit down with them and apologise. The denial is not something which will prevail throughout."

Johnson said he could not speculate on what would happen in future and if Mantsoe will eventually be remorseful.

:It is not fair to say that the deceased was in a position of trust to the accused? He broke her trust when he killed her."

Simelane, however, said Mantsoe and Mokoena had both been in need of some lifestyle guidance. Both parties had lived an alcohol-fuelled club-frequenting life.

"What does lifestyle have to do with the intent to kill?" Johnson asked.

"We don't actually know those last moments and what happened," Simelane replied.

"But the accused knows what happened… he chose not to take this court into his confidence," Johnson reasoned.

Mokoena's charred remains were found in a ditch in Lyndhurst on 29 April 2017. Mantsoe had pleaded not guilty to murder, admitting to only disposing of her body. He said he had returned home to find that she had committed suicide by stabbing herself in the neck in their cosy apartment in Sandton.

Johnson said he believed there were no mitigating circumstances for him to give Mantsoe a lenient sentence.

Mantsoe would be kept with hardened criminals who are behind bars for serious crimes like rape, robbery and murder. Serial rapist Josias Xaniseka Mkanzi, who was sentenced to 14 life sentences and 185 years in October 2017 is also in the same section.

There are also Nkosinathi Ngwena and Nkosinathi Moyo who were sentenced in June 2016 to a total of eight life terms plus 200 years for murders and house and business robberies in Gauteng.

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