Rehithile Matjane who is accused of murdering her two sons, in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/ANA

Pretoria - A psychiatrist at Weskoppies Hospital in Pretoria told the High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday that there was nothing which led her to believe that the mother who had killed her two children, had suffered from a mental defect at the time.

She acted rationally throughout the day, up to a few minutes prior to pulling the trigger, when she said she could not remember anything.

This is according to Dr Jacobeth Pooe, who was part of the forensic team who assessed Rehithile Katlego Matjane, 34, in 2015, shortly after her arrest. A magistrate referred her for 30 days evaluation to ascertain her mental status at the time of killing her children.

Pooe was a member of the panel of three psychiatrists at the time who had assessed Matjane and found her to be criminally responsible for her actions.

The mother’s defence is that while she did not deny she had pulled the trigger, she could not remember anything about the actual killing.

Her psychiatrist, Dr  Ivanov Savov this week testified on her behalf that she could not be held responsible for her actions, due to the side effects of the medication she had taken for a few days leading up to the incident and on the day of the killings. He diagnosed her as suffering from  sane automatism.

But Pooe said from her assessment, there was nothing to make her believe that the woman had suffered from a mental defect which resulted in her killing her sons, lvero, 2, and  Keyondre, 6 on April 17, 2015.

The expert said on the the day Matjane fetched acted normally, she fetched her children from school, strapped them in the car and she drove normally until she found a remote spot.

The next thing she claimed she remembered was “waking-up” and finding her son's dead - one in a pool of blood and the other in the front seat of the car.

Matjane told Pooe that she felt suicidal earlier in the day and fetched her husband’s firearm from the safe. She went to the garage to shoot herself, but decided against it. Instead of taking it back to the safe, she place it in the boot of her car. Pooe said if she did not want to use the gun, one would expect her to put it back in the safe. “It seems to me this was planned,” she said. 

Matjane also told her that she had been feeling depressed since two days prior to the incident. This increased on the day when she returned from taking the children to school and her husband, psychiatrist Dr Maxwell Matjane, was not home to have breakfast with her as usual.

She phoned him and he said he was at a building supply shop. Matjane also said she had a disagreement with her husband about the bathroom of the new house they were building. “He told her ‘I will build you this house but leave you with the children’. She did not like what he said, as she interpreted it that he will leave her. She told me that he did not mean what he said and that she had a friend in her husband.”

Pooe said during Matjane’s stay at Weskoppies she was emotional when she related the events relating to the killing of her children, but there were no signs that she had suffered from major depression.

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