Fully decked in her cultural Xitsonga garb, Maria Rikhotso showed no signs of being a woman scorned.
She was in the Johannesburg High Court on Friday to “plead for mercy” for her husband and her son – Booi Makhubela, 50, and his son Rodgers Makhubela, 26, of Alexandra, found guilty of a collective 63 counts, including 26 of rape and others of kidnap, assault and robbery.
Their modus operandi included picking up women in a minibus taxi and promising to drop them off at their destinations. The women would be raped, assaulted and robbed.
Rikhotso is the first of Booi’s two wives. Together they have seven children and four grandchildren. Rodgers is their second born, but eldest son.
Before his arrest three years ago, Booi was the breadwinner, earning a living as a taxi driver.
Rikhotso described Booi as a “good husband who likes sharing jokes with people, disliked arguments and noise”.
She portrayed the relationship between her husband and son as close, saying they both liked watching football.
“My son and his father had a very good relationship. My husband always took him with him everywhere,” testified Rikhotso.
As a child, Rodgers had “hearing problems that affected his mind”, memory and learning. He never completed Grade 3.
Rodgers was about 22 years old when he moved from Limpopo to stay with his father in Alexandra.
“Your husband and son are facing a minimum life sentence. Is there anything you would like to say to the court?” asked Booi’s legal counsel, Stephens Themba.
“My humble request before the court is that it exercises mercy upon both of them… I don’t know the facts of this case, so I am not in a position to comment or deny that they have committed the stated offences,” she told Judge Ronald Sutherland.
Prosecutor advocate Arveena Persad took the opportunity to give the long-suffering woman the facts of the case.
“You described your husband as a good man. It is your husband’s testimony that he sought after services of sex workers. Do you still consider him a good husband?” charged Persad.
“I don’t know about that,” replied Rikhotso, her head bowed.
“I am putting to you your husband’s testimony. I am letting you know that your husband has been convicted on 14 counts of rape. Do you still consider him a good husband?” asked Persad.
“He is my husband. He paid lobola for me. From the first day we met he has never been anything but a good husband. In our home my husband has never hurt or harmed me.”
Sentencing is expected on Thursday.