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PreToria - Drama unfolded in the North Gauteng High Court on Thursday, with family members and friends crying loudly, after a judge convicted a man of killing his wife by shooting her twice during an argument.
As Judge Lettie Malopa neared her verdict in the trial of Martin Badenhorst, the sobs became louder. By the time she told Badenhorst there was no doubt he had shot and killed the mother of their children, Yolande Badenhorst, all hell broke loose.
The 45-year-old man’s girlfriend – Michelle du Plessis – sitting in the back of the public gallery, stormed out of court, loudly slamming the door behind her.
Yolande’s elderly mother Pat Havenga, also in tears, ran up to her son-in-law and hugged him in the dock. She later told the Pretoria News that while she was happy that he was convicted of the murder that took place in 2007, she didn’t hate him. “One cannot walk around with hate in your heart. I hugged him because it is part of my healing process, to liberate myself.”
Badenhorst shot his wife twice during an argument in the bedroom of their Benoni home. He claimed they were arguing and it turned into a physical fight. They slapped each other and he got hold of a firearm which was on the bedside table.
According to him, he held it in the air, but his wife tried to take it out of his hands. A struggle ensued and two shots went off – one hitting her in the elbow and the other in the stomach. He said she kept on fighting with him until she fell to the ground and died five minutes later.
She begged him to phone the ambulance, but he told her she was about to die and it would not help.
Instead he read a verse from the Bible to her.
“It’s the only thing I could think of. I don’t know which verse I read, but she was lying at my feet and I shouted: ‘God, help her’.”
The court heard that when he refused to call for help, Yolande asked him to phone her mother, as she wanted to speak to her. Badenhorst also refused this, as he “could not see the point”.
Judge Malopa gave Badenhorst a severe tongue-lashing and said he was not a doctor and he couldn’t know if or when she would die. “It was not for you to decide not to phone an ambulance because she would not live. Even a doctor would have phoned for help in the hope that he might save her life. These were the actions of a man who wanted his wife to die,” she said.
A pathologist earlier testified that Yolande would probably have died from her wounds, but said there was always a chance that she may have lived if help was summoned.
Their toddler son was sleeping in an adjacent bedroom.
After the killing, Badenhorst wrapped Yolande’s body in a duvet and left her in the dressing room. He took his son to his sister’s home and asked her to look after him as, he said, he and Yolande were going out for drinks. He then went to the home of his then-girlfriend, Tania Cilliers, and “told her his sad story”.
Cilliers, who thought Badenhorst was divorced, was the one who sealed his fate in court. She said he told her that while they were fighting, he saw the gun out of the corner of his eye, got hold of it and shot her twice. Cilliers said she suggested they should return to his home to see whether they could help her, but Badenhorst said she was already dead.
The case was postponed to August 28.