It was all a tragic accident. He got up to pray when he and his wife had an argument and she bumped into the sofa, which in turn knocked a bottle of petrol over in the lounge. This caused his “prayer candle” to fall over and ignited the petrol.
This was the explanation of Godfrey Mamabolo, who is facing a murder charge after his wife Gladys died a week later in hospital, having suffered 80-percent burns on her body.
Mamabolo pleaded not guilty to the murder, as well as two charges of attempted murder after his two children – a daughter aged 3 and a son, 11 – suffered injuries from the flames.
It is claimed that on February 18 last year, Mamabolo poured petrol around the couple’s Letlhabile home in Brits, before setting it alight.
He allegedly locked all the doors of the house, then escaped, leaving his wife and children behind.
His son saw his mother engulfed in flames running towards the main bedroom. The severely injured woman called her children to the bathroom and made them sit in a tub of water. They were then rescued by members of the community.
Gladys, a paramedic, was rushed to hospital unconscious. She never regained consciousness and died a week later. Her two children are now being cared for by her mother.
She had obtained a family violence interdict against her husband a few hours before the home she shared with him was set alight.
The couple’s domestic worker this week testified how she saw the woman standing on her knees in front of Mamabolo, pleading for his forgiveness. The court heard that he poured petrol over her as well as in the lounge, down the passage and in the main bedroom, where their daughter was sleeping in her parents’ bed.
Mamabolo denied this and said it was an accident. He obtained petrol which he wanted to take to his homestead the next morning. The can with the petrol was in the lounge, he said.
His pastor had, about a week prior to the incident, instructed him to pray three times a day at specific times. He said he prayed for “anything which entered his mind”.
He went to bed early, without discussing the interdict with his wife, but he set his alarm for 9.30pm as this was the time for his next prayer.
He woke up and heard his wife speaking to someone on the phone, saying “I love you” and “see you soon”. Mamabolo said he suspected she was cheating on him and an argument ensued. They went to the lounge, where the can of petrol fell over and ignited his prayer candle, he said.
Mamabolo denied he was abusive towards his wife. He
said he believed she had an affair, as his son told him other people came to the house when he was away.
The trial continues.