Court rejects killer’s ‘suicide’ defenceComment on this story
Pretoria - Yvonne Beetge, the Polokwane mother who shot her fiancé three times in the head, claiming that he had committed suicide, lost her North Gauteng High Court appeal against her murder conviction.
She had already served more than two years of her 15-year jail sentence.
Beetge maintained from the start she did not kill “the love of my life” Bokkie Grundlingh. According to her, she tried to grab the firearm from him when he held it to his head and fired the shots.
But ballistics experts said while it was possible that he could have fired the first two shots himself, the third shot, fired from left to right, was not his doing. It was also found that the “suicide note” found on the scene and riddled with spelling mistakes, was not written by him. He was meticulous about using the correct grammar and spelling.
Another telling factor was that, according to Beetge, Grundlingh had placed a framed picture of his family on the floor, with the “suicide note” next to it. While the frame had blood spattering, the note which was said to be found next to it, was clean. The court found she was the one who had typed the note.
Beetge was terribly upset when she was sentenced two years ago to a jail term and clung to her latest fiancé as the police led her down to the holding cells.
While the court at the time convicted her on circumstantial evidence, Beetge on appeal said this was a mistake. She claimed she loved Grundlingh dearly and there was no motive for her to kill him.
Judge Ismail Mohamed, who initially sentenced her, commented then that he was in the dark as to the motive for the murder.
Acting Judge SA Thobane, assisted by two judges, said it was irrelevant whether there was a motive or not. “Motive is distinct from intention and simply means reasons for a person’s conduct. A person’s motive is irrelevant to criminal intent.”
Beetge testified that Grundlingh was a depressed former soldier who had experienced combat and who often had nightmares. On the night of November 24, 2008, she woke to find Grundlingh not next to her in bed. She said she went outside and saw him “swinging his firearm about and firing shots”. She managed to calm him down and he went to bed.
The next evening she fell asleep in front of the television and when she woke up, she noticed Grundlingh was not there. She found him in the bedroom with a gun in his hand. She said he read a letter to her in which he said he no longer wanted to live.
According to Beetge, Grundlingh lifted the firearm to his head and started to fire. She tried to get the firearm out of his hand but he was stronger than her.
She said she closed her eyes at this point and heard two more shots being fired.
Paramedics and the police who were later called to the scene testified that Beetge seemed extremely upset, crying bitterly on the scene.
They also found the note.
The judge, on appeal, said Beetge’s version was so improbable if one looked at the entire picture, that it couldn’t reasonably be true.
The court noted that Beetge nearly got away with murder, but a doctor questioned the bullet holes in the right-handed Grundlingh.