Pretoria - A mother said she poisoned her two children - sons aged 10 months and three-years - due to financial and love problems.
Thobile Mbatha, 29, a former police officer of Tsakane, near Springs, pleaded guilty in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria to the murder of 10-month-old Mapempeni Madoda, who later died in hospital.
Her three-year-old son Siyamthanda Junior Mbatha survived the ordeal. In his case, she pleaded guilty to attempted murder.
But she denied that the incident was pre-planned and the State refused to accept her plea. A plea of not guilty was noted on her behalf.
The defence is now also claiming that there was a possibility that the 10-month-old boy could have survived the poisoning if the staff at a clinic acted sooner in assisting the child.
It is claimed that the mother was forced to drive with her own car to a nearby hospital with her comatose child.
But a nurse and a doctor at the clinic denied this and said Mbatha simply took the child from the examination room and left the clinic.
They said they were in a state of shock by her behaviour, as they were planning on arranging an ambulance to transport the child to hospital, when she simply took him.
A doctor and a nurse on Thursday testified that they would have also alerted the hospital about the child’s arrival there. They were also adamant that the 29-year-old mother never told them that the child had consumed poison.
The witnesses said they were instead informed by a frantic and near hysterical family member that the child had fallen out of bed. Nomonde Sikhulu told the court that her aunt, the accused, simply told her that the child fell out of bed.
It was stated on behalf of the defence this week that the mother had a rat infestation problem at her house and that it was possible that the children could have got hold of the poison.
But the mother, in a lengthy written statement, explained how her husband had cheated on her and left her in financial distress.
“Faced with these circumstances, I found there was little or no reason to live. I decided to swallow some rat poison to end my life. Then I thought there would be no one to care for my children. I decided to poison them as well. I took two yogurt containers from the fridge and mixed it with rat poison.”
Mbata said she later regretted her actions and took the children to a clinic. The 10-month-old died later that day, while the three-year-old survived the ordeal.
She gave a long explanation as to how she met the father of her children. She said they dearly loved each other and swore to always be faithful.
This was until a woman phoned her in 2012, a year after she met her husband, who is also a police officer, to tell her that she was pregnant with his child. Mbata said she was devastated, but she forgave her husband when he told her that they had broken-up.
She said when she was pregnant with her first born, the husband wanted her to abort the child, but her mother was against it. “My mother said even if he did not want the child, it would always be loved. That is why we called him Siyamthanda, meaning we love him.”
Mbatha said after the birth of her children her relationship with her husband worsened, as he often did not sleep home.
He also resigned from the police force and was unemployed for a year. Mbatha said she had to support him during this time and she incurred a lot of debt.
He later again joined the police force, but she said then he refused to financially support her.
The last straw was when she discovered a receipt in the pocket of his trousers which showed that he and his former lover were renting a property together. “I was left hurt and helpless. My husband never secured a house for us. We had to stay in a room on the premises of one of his family members.”
Mbatha said she could not turn to her mother for help, as her mother was disabled and unemployed.
She denied that she bought the rat poison especially to kill her children and said it was in the house as they had a rat problem.