Kimberley - Monroe Clayton Lee, who was found guilty of stabbing his wife to death, in an act described as senseless and selfish, has been sentenced to 26 years’ imprisonment by the Northern Cape High Court.
Lee was sentenced to 22 years for killing his wife, Mitashja “Tessa” Lee, as well as three years’ imprisonment for stabbing his one-year-old granddaughter, who was in the arms of her grandmother at the time of the incident, and one year for the charge of assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm after he attempted to stab his daughter, Monique.
The sentences will run concurrently.
The incident happened in August 2016.
Previous testimony by the pathologist stated that Mitashja was stabbed 23 times by Lee and had injuries all over her body.
According to the pathologist, Mitashja lost a lot of blood resulting in most of her organs being pale.
Mitashja was holding her granddaughter at the time of the incident and the baby sustained two stab wounds, one in her cheek and one in her chest.
Handing down the sentence on Wednesday, Judge Bulelwa Pakati listed the areas on Mitashja’s body where the wounds were inflicted.
“The deceased had wounds to her lip, jaw, left breast, knee and abdomen. There were wounds to the palm of her hand as well as her thumb. According to the evidence, those wounds appeared to be defence wounds. There were wounds inflicted to her upper arm, armpit and a wound through the scalp. There were also four wounds, which also appear to be defence wounds, inflicted to her left hand,” said Pakati.
Family members who were seated in the public gallery wept as they listened to the sentencing proceedings.
Pakati said according to the social worker’s report, the incident had not only traumatised the family but had also put a strain on their relationships.
“The report stated that one of the deceased’s sisters was engaged at the time of the incident. That sister, however, had to become a mother to the two daughters the deceased shared with the accused. She also had to be a mother to her own children. As a result the engagement was broken off and the sister tried to commit suicide,” she said.
She said Lee’s relationship with his daughter had also been affected.
“Monique is very angry at her father and does not want a relationship with him. The relationship between Monique and her younger sister has become tense as the younger sibling has constant contact with their father.
“The schoolwork of the youngest child has declined following the incident and she was also suicidal. She has admitted to regularly contacting the accused although she feels anger and fear towards him. She says she still loves him.
“The baby, who was injured by the accused, suffered two wounds. The child had to get stitches after the incident. The baby feels pain when she is picked up and she will say ‘My oupa het my seer gemaak’ (my grandfather hurt me),” said Pakati.
Pakati said that although Lee apologised for the incident, his actions were uncalled for.
“I have taken into account the fact that the accused apologised for his actions. However, the right to life is sacred. The deceased was unarmed, defenceless and vulnerable. At no stage did she pose a threat to the accused.
“The accused viciously and brutally attacked the deceased in the presence of their own children and their grandchild. He was unstoppable, despite the fact that three men tried to disarm him.
“During the attack the accused had no regard for his family and his children. Four of the wounds were inflicted after the deceased had died, which shows that the accused was determined to carry out his act. After the attack he appeared satisfied and said ‘Leave me, I will not run away I have done what I wanted to do’,” the judge said.
She pointed out also that Lee had robbed his own children of a parent.
“The image of her mother being brutally killed by the person who was supposed to protect her will never fade from the mind of Monique. That day will remain with her forever. The couple’s two daughters were still young at the time of the incident. They needed their mother and their parent’s guidance as they were getting ready to step into adulthood,” she said.
Pakati also referred to the fact that Lee had prolonged the finalisation of the case. “What makes it worse is that the accused did not want to take responsibility as he delayed the finalisation of the case as he had to be sent for observation repeatedly.”
She said that Lee only had himself to blame for the position he was in.
“The complainants and the deceased were attacked at home. There is no evidence stating what triggered the violent behaviour of the accused. The accused admitted that he was involved in extra-marital affairs and that this caused stress and unhappiness in his marriage. That stress was brought on by himself as he also did not end the relationship with the other woman.”
Pakati described Lee’s actions as selfish.
“The person who was supposed to be angry was the deceased. Stabbing the deceased, who was unarmed, 23 times, baffles me. The accused used a knife which was used for fishing and killed his wife and also injured his children. These are the people he claims he loves. This murder was senseless and selfish,” Pakati said.