Pretoria - A taxi driver, described as a kind-hearted and hard-working man, who killed his common-law wife’s boyfriend by setting his home alight in a fit of jealousy, was given a lifeline by Judge Thokozile Masipa when she sentenced him to an effective 15 years’ imprisonment.
She is the presiding judge in the Oscar Pistorius trial.
Hans Isaacs was earlier convicted in the Pretoria High Court of murder, attempted murder and arson.
On the night of January 27 last year, his common-law wife and mother of his son, Virginia Ramodike, decided to sleep over at her boyfriend Chris Sibanda’s home in Mamelodi. The house was around the corner from where she and Isaacs lived.
Isaacs, when he discovered she was cheating on him, doused Sibanda’s home with petrol and set it alight. Ramodike was injured in the flames while Sibanda died a few days later in hospital from multiple organ failure.
Ramodike told a social worker that although she loved Isaacs, she had an affair with Sibanda because she was bored.
Ramodike testified that she and Isaacs had been in a love relationship for the past 22 years.
In 2012, she started a secret love affair with Sibanda. According to her, she went to her lover’s home that night, and after a night of passion, went to the bathroom. She felt liquid under her feet and smelt it was petrol.
The room was engulfed in flames immediately afterwards. She and her lover escaped through a window. She at first told the police that she saw Isaacs that night on the premises, but told Judge Masipa that she had lied.
Ramodike was declared a hostile witness and would not testify against Isaacs, after initially pointing him out as the arsonist.
It emerged that Ramodike was unhappy with the fact that Isaacs, who financially supported her and their child, could go to jail.
Judge Masipa, however, convicted Isaacs as all fingers pointed to him. She remarked during her judgment that it was clear Ramodike still “had a soft spot” for the accused.
This is in addition to the evidence that he was a good provider.
Ramodike told a social worker, who prepared a pre-sentencing report, that she and the deceased “just had a casual sexual fling”.
She said she went to his home on the night of the incident after a soccer game as she knew Isaacs would be home much later, and she took advantage of the opportunity to be with her lover.
She sneaked out of the house and went to Sibanda’s home around the corner.
Ramodike told the social worker she regretted her behaviour and she knew it was not justifiable.
She said she had been bored in her relationship with Isaacs, as he was older and always came home tired, which strained their sexual life.
She said Sibanda was much younger and gave her the kind of attention she never got at home.
The social worker said the woman was in tears when she said she knew Isaacs loved her, but that it was not enough.
Ramodike also broke down in tears when she spoke about losing the deceased and the fact that she could not attend his funeral as she was in hospital.
Sibanda was a Zimbabwean national with a wife and children back home.
Isaacs told the social worker he was very disappointed when he discovered that his partner was cheating on him.