A 34-year-old Pretoria businesswoman who shot dead her two sons, aged 2 and 6, claims she was under the influence of medication and other substances at the time and could not be held liable for her actions.
Rehithile Matjane denied guilt in the High Court in Pretoria to charges of murdering her sons, Alvaro, 2, and Keyon’dre, 6, on a smallholding near Hammanskraal in April 2015. Both little boys died after being shot in the head, but their mother said in a plea explanation she did not know what she was doing and had no recollection of the shooting incident itself.
“I am happily married to my husband [Pretoria psychiatrist Dr Mazelle Matjane] and love my deceased children dearly.
“I would never intentionally hurt my beloved children, and even when I experienced extreme suicidal thoughts, I did not ever consider to harm or kill them.
“I have partial memory loss of the events leading up to the shooting incident and thereafter,” she said.
Matjane denied she was able to understand the wrongfulness of her actions or to act accordingly when she shot her sons and pleaded that she had acted in a state of “sane automatism due to a short-lasting psychotic depressive episode”.
She said this was the result of a combination of side-effects of medication and substances she had used before the incident. She had used various pain medications for migraines, an asthma inhaler and various sport supplements, together with a glass of red wine and an energy drink that day. According to Matjane, she had suffered from severe headaches two days before the incident, for which she used pain medication.
“I felt extreme emotions of loneliness, tension and suicidal thoughts. I also experienced tightness of my chest,” she said. She added she had used strong pain medication for her migraine headaches for a long time. The migraines were associated with dizziness, nausea and occasional vomiting and blurred vision.
In addition, she had her menstrual cycle that day and had experienced period and body pains, she added.