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Pretoria - A man who murdered his wife by dousing her with petrol and setting her alight was cold, cunning, and remorseless, the High Court in Pretoria concluded on Friday.

Judge Ellem Francis sentenced Godfrey Mamabolo, 46, of Letlhabile near Brits, to life imprisonment for murdering his wife Gladys, attempting to murder his three-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son, and breaching a protection order in February last year.

Mamabolo was found guilty of murder despite his claims that his wife's death was an accident after a candle and container with petrol accidentally fell over in his lounge while they were shoving each other during an argument.

Francis said Mamabolo, a paramedic, was a defenceless hard-working woman who did not deserve to die an agonising death.

The judge accepted the evidence of the couple's domestic worker, Mmaletsatsi Matshona, that she saw Mamabolo wearing only her panties, on her knees with her arms above her head, begging her husband for forgiveness while he poured petrol over her. Matshona

escaped by breaking a window moments before the house was engulfed in flames.

The couple's son testified that he saw his father pour petrol on the bedroom floor and saw his mother catch fire while she was running down the passage.

Despite being on fire, she managed to call her children to the bathroom where she made them sit in a tub of water. Neighbours rescued them through a bathroom window after breaking the burglar bars.

Mrs Mamabolo's brother, Ronnie Masilo, testified that he had to intervene when his brother-in-law threatened to kill his sister with a spanner at her workplace the day before her death.

He took his sister to the police station where she obtained a protection order to stop her husband from assaulting, threatening, and insulting her. The order was served on Mamabolo hours before he attacked his wife.

Francis said it was clear Mamabolo set his wife alight because he was furious about the protection order and suspected her of having an affair.

Mamabolo's mother cried after sentence was passed, and her brother Ronnie said he was “super happy” with the sentence.