Esther Moyana, from ZonkiZizwe, appeared in the Heidelberg Magistrates Court on Monday following the murder of her two children, who she poisoned after they were all abandoned by her boyfriend. Picture: Antoine de Ras

Johannesburg - The woman who poisoned her two children and tried to pin the murders on her boyfriend has been sentenced to seven years in jail.

Magistrate Veena Krishner of the Heidelberg Magistrate’s Court sentenced Esther Moyana, 26, to seven years in prison for each murder.

She ordered that the sentences run concurrently, so Moyana will serve an effective seven years in prison.

In handing down the sentence, Krishner said there were compelling and substantial circumstances that made her deviate from the minimum sentence of 15 years for each murder.

On the morning of October 17 last year, Moyana emerged from a dilapidated Katlehong building – which is next to a busy road – calling for help. Her two girls, aged 1 and 3, were lying dead in the building.

Moyana told the police she was from Mozambique and that her husband had called her and asked that she and the children visit him in Witbank, Mpumalanga.

When she arrived, she found her husband with another woman, with whom she fought.

Moyana said the woman chased her and the children away. Her husband put her and the children in his car, drove them from Mpumalanga and dumped them in Zonk’iZizwe, Katlehong, in the middle of the night and, she said, gave them poisoned juice.

Her children were taken to a mortuary, while Moyana was taken to hospital.

But a day later, she was taken into custody as the police did not believe her story. Later, she pleaded guilty to the murders.

Lawyer Phillip Venter told The Star that in her plea explanation Moyana had explained why she killed her children.

Three weeks before the killings, her boyfriend said he had a new girlfriend and kicked Moyana out of their house.

Moyana and the children came to Joburg, where she shared a shack with her father, stepmother and their child in Zonk’iZizwe.

According to Venter, she said she slept in the kitchen with her two children because her stepmother was unhappy about their presence.

Venter added: “A day before the incident, the boyfriend came and that gave her hope that they would get back together. However, he told her that he would not be taking her back. He then gave her R150 for her and the children and left.

“That was the last straw for her. She gave the children poison. She also took some to commit suicide, but it had no effect on her,” Venter said.

Before handing down sentence, Krishner ordered that Moyana be seen by a psychiatrist, who recommended that she be given a suspended sentence.

Krishner indicated that a suspended sentence would be too lenient and not address the seriousness of Moyana’s offence.

Moyana will be deported to Mozambique upon completion of her sentence as she is in the country illegally.

Sentence was passed on March 18.

A case of battered woman syndrome

A few years ago, a KwaZulu-Natal woman, Saziso Mtshali, killed her two girls, aged 8 and 3.

Like Esther Moyana, she was 26 at the time.

She had gone to visit her husband with their children when he assaulted her, saying he did not want her with him. He threw them out the next day and gave her R120 for travel expenses. The money was not enough for them to travel to their farm, and they took shelter under a bush.

As the children slept that night, a severely depressed Saziso took an overdose of pills she had with her.

She then strangled her children while they slept and lay down next to them to die. The children died but Mtshali survived.

When she awoke, she went to a police station to report what she had done. She was arrested and pleaded guilty.

The evidence of the experts appointed by Acting Judge Guido Penzhorn, including one experienced in the field of suicide and “extended suicide”, was that Mtshali suffered from battered woman syndrome and post-traumatic stress.

With her low intellectual functioning, she could not think of any way out other than ending her life and the lives of her children.

Mtshali was found to have acted out of love for her children, for whom she was unable to care and for whom she saw no future.

Judge Penzhorn also deviated from the usual minimum sentence of 15 years.

He handed Mtshali a 10-year sentence, which was wholly suspended for five years on condition that during that time she would be under house arrest and would haveto undergo correctional supervision– subject to certain conditions, including receiving psychological treatment. - Source: Selwyn Cohen of Hogan Lovells in an article in

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