Slain wife’s whirl­wind of trauma

Woman gunned down at Pollsmoor af­ter mar­riage hits the rocks

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - ZARA NI­CHOL­SON

THE LAST few months of Marilyn Di­et­rich’s life had been a whirl­wind of trauma which landed her in hospi­tal, but just as she was on the road to re­cov­ery, she was al­legedly gunned down by her prison warder hus­band.

Last Fri­day, Di­et­rich was “happy” and in a bet­ter space than she had been for a while, fam­ily mem­bers said. She then went to col­lect money from her hus­band Jo­han, who worked at Pollsmoor Prison, and was gunned down at the prison gates.

The cou­ple had been go­ing through a rough patch, with Marilyn hav­ing filed a court in­ter­dict against her hus­band af­ter he al­legedly phys­i­cally threat­ened her and their sons Mayen and Juhane.

The 43-year-old woman told close friends that an “emo­tional” call from her hus­band last Fri­day made her feel “un­easy”, but she went to see him at work to col­lect money.

Jo­han, 44, ap­peared in the Wyn­berg Mag­is­trate’s Court on Mon­day for the mur­der of his wife. This was a day be­fore he was due to ap­pear on charges of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence re­lat­ing to an ear­lier case this year.

Friends and rel­a­tives, who de­clined to be named, said the cou­ple weren’t go­ing through a di­vorce as pre­vi­ously re­ported. They said Marilyn still wanted to sal­vage the fam­ily.

A work col­league said: “She had a trau­ma­tis­ing re­la­tion­ship but he was never phys­i­cally abu­sive un­til re­cently. Things just got out of con­trol. She was a peo­ple’s per­son, and that was the ba­sic flaw in the re­la­tion­ship, be­cause he was an in­tro­vert.

“She was very much for her chil­dren. She made sure they had ev­ery­thing they needed and she was a very dot­ing mother.”

On New Year’s Eve, af­ter an in­ci­dent at their Lo­tus River home, she ap­plied for an in­ter­dict bar­ring her hus­band from her and the chil­dren.

This was the start of a turn for the worse for the fam­ily.

“He came here at 2am on New Year’s Eve and she had to flee with the chil­dren. There was an­other in­ci­dent and she ap­plied for the in­ter­dict. The last in­ci­dent was the trauma that caused her to go into early labour when she was only seven months preg­nant,” a friend said.

Her baby did not sur­vive as his lungs were not prop­erly de­vel­oped.

“She was ex­tremely happy in the last few weeks, ex­cept when she had to see him. She wasn’t work­ing and he stopped con­tribut­ing fi­nan­cially to the fam­ily’s needs, so he made her fi­nan­cially de­pen­dent on him and would al­ways ask her to come and fetch the money. It made her very anx­ious be­cause it was more about see­ing her,” a friend said.

Last Fri­day she re­ceived a phone call from her hus­band ask­ing her to fetch money at Pollsmoor.

“She called me to say she was 10 min­utes away from Pollsmoor and still joked, say­ing, ‘keep the fly­ing squad ready’. Lit­tle did we know that that’s what was needed,” her col­league said.

A few min­utes later the cou­ple’s son Mayen called his mother’s col­league to say he had re­ceived a call say­ing his fa­ther had shot his mother. When he got con­fir­ma­tion, he had to turn around on his way to his Port El­iz­a­beth hol­i­day.

In­spec­tor Rod­ney Franks, from the Kirsten­hof po­lice, said Jo­han’s in­ter­dict was to have been made per ma­nent this Tues­day, and added that he should never have been al­lowed onto the street.

“He was de­clared un­fit to carry a firearm even while on duty af­ter a few hear­ings with Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices. I can con­firm that he asked for coun­selling and me­di­a­tion be­tween him and his wife,” Franks said.

He said po­lice very con­cer ned about this type of crime, es­pe­cially dur­ing Women’s Month, when they had var­i­ous talks and in­ter­ven­tions for men to be mind­ful of a re­la­tion­ship with a spouse and to seek coun­selling.

Franks added: “This should never have hap­pened.”

Jo­han is due in court on Mon­day again, while his wife is to be buried in Grassy Park to­day.

TRAGEDY: Marilyn Di­et­rich, 43, was gunned down in front of Pollsmoor Prison last Fri­day. Her prison warder hus­band Jo­han has ap­peared in court.

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