Pretoria - The court should send out a clear message to men who kill their intimate partners. This was what the prosecution said on Tuesday in asking for a lengthy jail term to be imposed on a former policeman who, at point-blank range, shot dead the mother of his two children.
Pretoria High Court Judge George Webster was told by the State that a study by the Gender and Health Research Unit of the Medical Research Council on intimate femicide in South Africa showed that 57.1 percent of women who are killed in South Africa, fell prey to their husbands or partners.
The study showed that in 1999 one woman died every six hours at the hands of their male partners, while in 2009, one was killed in this way every eight hours.
These horror statistics were presented in the trial of Godfrey Modikoe, 34, of Erasmus, north-west of Pretoria. He earlier pleaded guilty to murdering Tshepiso Mafatle, during an argument over food and clothes for their children over the Christmas period.
She was shot dead on December 27, 2010, at the home of Modikoe’s grandmother, where she lived. The two were estranged at the time and she had obtained a family violence interdict against him. In terms of the order he was not allowed to come to the house where she lived, but he claimed he needed to go there to visit his children.
It was not clear exactly why he had shot her that day, as he only explained that he was frustrated, upset and humiliated by the way she had treated him.
Modikoe said they had a volatile relationship and while he “would not say she was a bad person”, they simply could not get along.
On the day of the incident she shouted abuse at him, demanding money for the children and he could not take it any longer. He followed her into the house and at close range, fired one shot into her face.
Modikoe said he knew his actions were wrong and said that he would take his punishment like a man. He said he was sorry that he had shot her, but he snapped as she would not stop shouting at him.
According to him he simply pulled the trigger. “I believe she must have died instantly. I did not know what to do so I simply walked away,” he said.
He explained that he suffered from major depression because of his work as a policeman, which he said contributed to the incident.
Modikoe said he tried to obtain help from the police chaplain and his captain on how to deal with his problems, but this did not help.
According to him, he had his service pistol with him at the time as he worked in the crime prevention unit and could be called out at any moment. He explained that he took a friend with him when he went to the house, as the friend’s presence would “hopefully cause her to scream less at him”.
He, however, could not take her shouting any longer and simply snapped, he said.
Testifying in mitigation yesterday, Modikoe asked the forgiveness of the court for what he had done, as well as that of the family of Mafatle.
Modikoe said he moved out of their family home before the incident, as he realised they could not get along. According to him Mafatle, however, once came to the house of his cousin where he stayed at the time, and “tore his clothes off him”.
On another occasion, he said, she threw boiling water at his new girlfriend.
The State called on the judge to impose a 15-year jail sentence on Modikoe, saying that the state of affairs where males kill their partners, should not be tolerated.
Modikoe will be sentenced on Thursday.