The Pretoria North Magistrate’s Court has sentenced a 36-year-old father to 40 years behind bars after he murdered his two small children during a parental visit.
The murders took place in Soshanguve in Pretoria in September 2016.
Victor Timothy Phetla had requested an overnight visit to spend time with his two minor children, a four-year-old daughter and son aged 18 months.
The couple had split up, and he told the mother that he wanted to see the children before they left to visit grandparents in Mpumalanga the following day.
While at work, the mother called Phetla asking him to get the children ready so she could fetch them.
But he didn’t answer, and after several calls, their daughter finally answered. The child sounded different from her usual self and told her mother they were fine and had slept well.
While talking to her daughter, Phetla snatched the phone and dropped the call. That would be the last time the mother would hear from her children.
Later, Phetla sent the mother a WhatsApp message telling her that she “should live her life the way she wishes but should ensure that she buries him next to his children.”
In a panic, the children’s mother asked to leave work. She called Phetla’s cousin to accompany her to the house.
When they arrived at his place, the cousin asked the mother to wait outside while he went inside.
Phetla’s cousin discovered the four-year-old’s body and caught Phetla attempting to commit suicide. He was lying on the floor and stabbing himself.
The cousin then told the mother to call the police.
The mother, who was in a state of shock, ran inside. She found her baby boy’s lifeless body on top of the bed.
She lost consciousness and collapsed at the scene.
The police and ambulance arrived, and the children were declared dead due to multiple stab wounds.
Phetla was taken to the hospital under police supervision and has been in custody since.
Before trial, Phetla displayed signs of mental illness, however, an assessment done at Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital found him fit to stand trial.
Phetla denied killing his children, pleaded not guilty to the charges of murder, and claimed his children were still alive.
The prosecutor, Hanlie Du Preez, asked the court to impose the prescribed maximum sentence because there are no compelling or substantial reasons to divert from it.
“There is overwhelming aggravating evidence the father of the children was in a position of care and trust,” she said.
“The children were vulnerable and defenceless, and he betrayed their trust,” said Du Preez.
(Compiled by Narissa Subramoney)