A mother of two knelt in front of her husband, with her arms outstretched, begging him to forgive her, while he poured petrol over her.
Seconds later, the house was in flames.
This was the evidence of Mmaletsatsi Matshona, who worked as a domestic worker for Godfrey Mamabolo and his wife Gladys.
She took the stand in the Pretoria High Court on Wednesday to testify in Mamabolo’s murder trial, following Gladys’s death in February last year.
She suffered 80-percent burn wounds when her husband allegedly set her and their Letlhabile, Brits, home alight.
Mamabolo is also facing two attempted murder charges after his two children were injured. The two were sleeping with their mother in the main bedroom of the house when it was allegedly set alight.
Mamabolo, who throughout the court proceedings sat with his head in his hands, pleaded not guilty to the charges, but chose to remain silent about his defence.
Matshona, who lived in the Mamabolo home, testified that she was woken up late on the night of February 13, last year, by screams coming from Gladys Matshona. “She said I must come and help, as they were about to die in the house.”
Matshona said as she ran down the passage, she saw and smelt petrol on the floor.
“I had to force open the bedroom door. I saw the deceased on her knees. She was naked, except for panties. Her arms were stretched out above her head and she begged her husband to forgive her.”
“He had a container in his hands with petrol in. I could smell it. He poured it over her.”
Matshona said although she had no idea what the problem was, she asked Mamabolo to forgive his wife.
“He told me to come to him, but I ran away.”
According to her, the doors to the house were locked and the keys were missing. She had to break a window to escape. When she got outside, members of the community were already gathered there. “They asked me what was happening and I told them the accused was pouring petrol over his wife. The next moment the lounge was engulfed in flames.”
Matshona said when she left the house, she saw the couple’s young daughter on her mother’s bed.
The couple’s 11-year-old son, who on Wednesday testified against his father, said he saw his mother “had caught fire”.
Despite being severely injured, Gladys managed to call her children to the bathroom, where she made them sit in a tub of water. Members of the community rescued them through a bathroom window.
The mother and children were rushed to the hospital, but Gladys died a week later of burn wounds.
The court earlier heard evidence that Mamabolo on the eve of the incident threatened to kill his wife. She had, a few hours before she was allegedly set alight, obtained a family violence interdict against him.