Zinhle Maditla, the woman found guilty of murdering her four children in Klarinet, eMalaheni in Mpumalanga, has told the High Court in Middelburg she regretted feeding them poison when she realised they were no longer breathing.
Speaking while under cross-examination on Tuesday, Maditla detailed what happened on December 27 when she killed them.
She told the court she had fed the children – two girls, aged four and eight, and two boys, aged seven years and 11 months – bread that she had laced with rat poison and said an hour later, after they had eaten the bread, one child collapsed while playing with other kids outside.
Another child complained about having a severe headache.
“I went to the shop to buy her Disprin [headache tablet] and found them all asleep in the room when I came back,” said Maditla.
“I tried to wake them up but realised they were no longer breathing. I locked the room and went out to drink alcohol and came back in the early hours of the following day. I regretted what I had done. I sat with them, hoping that they would wake up. I saw a whitish liquid coming out of their mouths and cleaned them with a wet cloth.”
Maditla told the court she had felt the children’s bodies getting cold and decided to cover them with a blanket.
She locked the room they were in and went to her friend’s place where she slept over and returned home on December 29, she added.
Maditla said she did not tell anyone about the incident, but would go in and out of her room on December 29 while the bodies of the children were still there.
While she did not answer the question in court on why she had killed her children, she revealed she poisoned them shortly after she visited her boyfriend and father of one of the children, Mfanafuthi Shongwe.
Shongwe lived in the same area and the two had allegedly fought physically. She said the fight broke out after she confronted him about why he allegedly did not buy the child any Christmas clothes.
Maditla was being cross-examined by her legal aid lawyer, Eugine Mathivhithivhi, and prosecutor Ntsiki Mpolweni.
Both Mathivhithivhi and Mpolweni separately asked Maditla why she did not report the incident to family members or the police. She responded by saying she did not know why.
She told Judge Sheila Mphahlele to sentence her to life in jail.
“I have to be punished according to the manner in which I did this thing,” said Maditla.
“I really apologise to my family, especially my mother [Beulah Martin]. I also apologise to all the fathers of my dead children.”
Maditla then broke down and cried hysterically, leading Judge Mphahlele to adjourn the case to allow her to compose herself.
Maditla was arrested on December 30 last year after she handed herself over at the Vosman police station. This was shortly after the decomposed bodies of her children were found in her rented room.
Judge Mphahlele postponed the case to Friday, September 20 for sentencing.