Zinhle Maditla has been found guilty of four counts of murder in the Middelburg High Court. Maditla killed her four children with rat poison.
Maditla’s lawyer confirmed that she would be the only witness arguing in mitigation of sentence, in a hearing that will begin on Tuesday. The state will be calling three witnesses.
The killings took place in Klarinet, an area of eMalahleni, Mpumalanga.
The 25-year-old woman’s family made a gruesome discovery after receiving a phone call from her, saying she had left them a Christmas present in her room.
Upon arriving at the house in Klarinet, the family found the bodies of Minenhle, 8; Blessing, 6; Shanique, 4; and Ettiene, 11 months, wrapped in blankets in the house. The bodies were in the early stages of decomposition when they were found.
Maditla was arrested in December last year after she handed herself over to the police.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Leonard Hlathi told the African News Agency (ANA) at the time that police were called to the home where they found the four bodies in the two-roomed house.
He said the children were two girls, aged four and eight, and two boys, aged seven years and 11 months.
Maditla’s lawyer argued in June that she was badly affected by their death.
“We cannot change the fact that the applicant has always been hurt by the loss of her children,” said Legal Aid South Africa appointed attorney Mphile Ndzondo.
He was presenting his closing arguments during Maditla’s bail application hearing.
Ndzondo said Maditla needed bail so that she could have a fair opportunity to prepare for the trial, and challenged the testimony of investigating officer Constable Zinhle Mathenjwa, who said Maditla might kill herself if she was granted bail.
“She has a chronic condition but continued to take her medication in police custody. She would have stopped taking her medication if she wanted to end her own life. This is an indication that she is prepared to stand trial.”
State prosecutor Johan Harmse told the court that 24-year-old Maditla failed to show exceptional circumstances to the court on why she should be granted bail as required by section 60 (11) of the Criminal Procedure Act. He said Maditla concealed evidence by keeping the bodies of her children in her rented room between December 27 and 30.
“The accused often went into the room to change clothes without reporting the matter to the police. When neighbours asked the accused about the bad smell that came from the room, she said she kept rotten meat in that room,” said Harmse.
(Background reporting, Zita Goldswain and ANA)