Zinhle Maditla. Picture: ANA Reporter

Johannesburg - Even after her children complained of headaches after feeding them poison, Zinhle Maditla, did not seek any form of assistance.

Having consumed the poison they did not die immediately. The died a prolonged and painful death in the presence of their mother. 

These were the remarks of Judge Sheila Mphahlele while sentencing Maditla at the Middleburg Magistrate’s Court on Friday for the murders of Minenhle, 8, Blessing, 7, Shaniqua, 3 and 11-month-old Ethen 

Handing Maditla, 24, four life sentences, Judge Mphahlele said she could not find any substantial and compelling circumstances to justify the imposition of a lesser  sentence than the described minimum sentences.

“I think on the considered view that the life imprisonment of on each of the murder counts is the appropriate sentence,” she said.

"The accused was intending to kill her children and she made sure that her plan was executed perfectly that is why at one stage she lie about the whereabouts of the children."

Mphahlele said Maditla said she only realised a day after the commission of her crimes that what she did was wrong. 

“Despite this realisation she never asked for assistance, the least when the children started complaining of headaches. She claims that she was in the meantime tormented in her conscience, but she failed to seek help or report the matter,” Mphahlele added. 

She further added that the accused only confessed three day after the commission of her acts and that time the bodies of the children were at an advanced stage of decomposition.  

Maditla, who had pleaded guilty to the crimes, said during the trial that she had a fight with her boyfriend after finding out he was cheating on her when he went to his house and found him with another woman.

According to Maditla, the father attacked her after she confronted him.

She said she was distraught and bought poison she used to try and kill herself and the children.

The children's decomposed bodies were found on December 30 in their home in Klarinet, Mpumalanga and Maditla later handed herself to the police.

Maditla was sent for mental evaluation at the beginning of the trial and the psychiatric assessment showed that she was extremely angry when she killed the children.

She bought the poison for R10 and put it in the food of her three older kids.

For the baby, Maditla mixed the poison with yoghurt and smeared it on her breast which then killed baby Ethen as he latched on to the nipple to breastfeed.

Maditla then went on a drinking spree after poisoning the children and lied about their whereabouts when asked where they were.

Two days later, she gave the father of the youngest children the keys to the room in which the children lay dead, telling him she was going away and that she had locked them inside.

However, she did not tell him that she had fed the children poison.

The children were discovered when flies were seen around the room.

Maditla's family broke the door and made the gruesome discovery of the four decomposed bodies.

The Star