A former Tsakane police officer who fed rat poison to her two young sons and tried to commit suicide after finding out that her husband was cheating on her has been convicted in the High Court in Pretoria on charges of murder and attempted murder.
Thobile Mbatha, 29, burst into tears and tightly hugged her weeping mother after Acting Judge JJ Hattingh found her guilty of the premeditated murder of her 10-month-old son and the attempted murder of her three-year-old son.
Mbatha admitted that, in September 2016, she had mixed rat poison with yoghurt and fed it to her sons before taking some herself. She said her intention was for all of them to die, but denied planning the murder after finding out that her husband had impregnated and was sharing a house with another woman.
Hattingh rejected her version that the poison was already in a cupboard in her bedroom and accepted evidence that she had told a doctor at a Springs hospital she had bought the poison at a taxi rank earlier that day.
He also accepted the evidence of her mother-in-law and niece that she had told them the baby had fallen off a bed, had said nothing about poisoning her children when she took them to a clinic and thereafter to hospital and only at a much later stage revealed to a doctor at the hospital that she had given them poison.
She also waited for two hours for her niece to return from school before deciding to take her children to the clinic. By that time her 10-month-old son was already in a coma and barely breathing.
Two medical doctors testified that time was of the essence when dealing with cases of poisoning, especially in young children. Hattingh said it was clear from the evidence that even after she had a change of heart and took her children to a clinic, Mbatha still kept it from her family and doctors that she had fed them rat poison. He said her young son might still be alive and his tragic death could have been prevented if she had not withheld vital information.
The trial was postponed to next month for pre-sentence reports. The judge ruled that Mbatha must remain in custody, but had the right to apply for bail. – firstname.lastname@example.org