Killer businesswoman mom gets two life terms for murder of sons
The woman had tried to get the court to believe she didn't know what she was doing due to her medication.
Rehithile Matjane. Picture: Jacques Nelles
A Pretoria mother who shot her two young sons to death three years ago was today sentenced in the High Court in Pretoria to two life terms.
Judge Hans Fabricius sentenced businesswoman Rehithile Matjane (36) to life imprisonment for the cold-blooded, planned murders of her sons Alvaro (2) and Keyon’dre (6) in April 2015.
Matjane admitted driving with the two children to a deserted spot in Hammanskraal that afternoon and killing them both, but claimed she did not know what she was doing because of the effects of medication and supplements she took.
The youngest boy died of a bullet wound to the head where he was sitting in his mother’s car while her eldest son was found outside the car with bullet wounds to his arm and head.
Although psychiatrists described Matjane as a normal, healthy and emotionally stable woman in a happy relationship, she claimed she was feeling depressed and suicidal before the incident.
Judge Fabricius said there was no evidence of anything out of the ordinary physically with Matjane. There was evidence by a clinical psychologist that her actions were precise, accurate and intentional.
Her interpersonal style was domineering, over-controlling and dictatorial with little tolerance for those who did not agree with her, which could be seen from what she told police officials after the murders, implying that if she could not have the children, no one could.
Although Matjane told the police at the scene she feared her husband was going to leave her and she was tired of her “miserable life and suffering of the past 12 years”, she and her husband, Pretoria psychiatrist Dr Mazelle Matjane, both testified they had a happy, stable relationship and even had another child together, who was born in January last year.
Judge Fabricius said there was no evidence of diminished responsibility when Matjane killed her children and no evidence that leaving them behind if she committed suicide would have led to hardship for them, as the evidence was that her husband was a good father.
Although Matjane and her husband had an argument that morning, the incident took place in the late afternoon. There was no immediate provocation and Matjane had ample time to reflect on her actions.
The judge said the only inference was that she wanted to spite her husband and prevent him from giving the children to another woman out of selfishness, jealousy and self-centredness.
Matjane had led a privileged life and was in a happy marriage. Even if one accepted that the marriage was not as happy as it was said to be, it would not result in diminished capacity or count as a substantial or compelling mitigating factor, he added.
The judge emphasised that Matjane’s children were young and completely defenseless. Her eldest son’s world must have collapsed when he saw his mother pointing a firearm at him after she had killed his younger brother and then firing a shot at him that hit his arm before she shot him in the head.
He said the murders had not only traumatised Matjane’s husband and family, but also severely traumatised the police officials who attended the scene and the teachers and children at her sons’ school.