Ex­clu­sive: Ma­ri­etjie Vosloo on Mundolene and jail

Ma­ri­etjie Vosloo tells YOU’s Jana van der Merwe about slap­ping Mundolene, sur­viv­ing jail and los­ing her hus­band’s love

YOU (South Africa) - - CONTENTS - PIC­TURES: ROWYN LOM­BARD

SHE was so look­ing for­ward to get­ting back to the com­forts of home, see­ing her hus­band and hold­ing her 13-year-old son in her arms again. But soon af­ter she’d set foot back on home soil her hus­band, Mike, who’d sup­ported her through­out her or­deal, told her it was all over be­tween them.

Ma­ri­etjie Vosloo has ac­cepted it, hard though it is.

“I still love Mike,” she says. “Love isn’t some­thing you can just turn off. He was my true, first love and the fa­ther of my child. We’ve been through a lot.”

But she knows what hap­pened will al­ways stand be­tween them like an in­sur­mount­able brick wall. She’s grate­ful Mike (47) waited un­til she was freed from prison be­fore telling her he wanted out – she doesn’t think she could have han­dled the added heartache while she was be­hind bars.

Ma­ri­etjie (34) spent 18 months in a Mau­ri­tian jail af­ter the death of her teenage step­daugh­ter, Mundolene (17), on a fam­ily hol­i­day.

Au­thor­i­ties ini­tially wanted her to be tried for mur­der but af­ter the au­topsy re- port the charge was re­duced to as­sault.

A court in the Mau­ri­tian cap­i­tal, Port Louis, sen­tenced her to 15 months in prison – but as she’d al­ready been be­hind bars for 18 months she was al­lowed to re­turn to South Africa.

Ma­ri­etjie had a bleak home­com­ing: only a handful of jour­nal­ists were wait­ing for her at OR Tambo In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Jo­han­nes­burg.

Mike was at their home in Mar­gate, KwaZu­luNatal, with their son, Morné*, and Mundolene’s younger brother, Wil­lie* (16). Ma­ri­etjie’s broth­ers, Jan (43) and Ber­tie Ja­cobs (37), were meant to pick her up but there had been a mis­un­der­stand­ing and they thought she was on a later flight.

Puffy-eyed, her hair in a se­vere pony­tail, Ma­ri­etjie gath­ered her two suit­cases and set­tled down to wait for her broth­ers. She had no cell­phone and no South African cur­rency. But when we meet, a day later, she seems much re­cov­ered af­ter a good night’s rest in a com­fort­able bed in­stead of on a thin mat­tress on a ce­ment prison floor.

She’s stay­ing with Jan at his home in Springs on the East Rand – he’s pre­pared a room for her with a TV and moved his five-month-old Great Dane puppy’s bed in there too. Max will help her feel safe, he told her.

It’s still hard to be­lieve she has her free­dom, Ma­ri­etjie says. “It was worse than a night­mare – it felt like I was trapped in a dark tun­nel with­out any light at the end. I don’t wish it on any­one.”

Her lawyer, ad­vo­cate Zared­hin Jaun­bac­cus, fought hard to prove his client didn’t de­lib­er­ately kill Mundolene and the court agreed.

“My trial was quite speedy – there were women with me in jail in [the town of]

Beau Bassin whose cases have been drag­ging on for five years. Some didn’t even have a lawyer yet af­ter three years be­hind bars.”

Although Ma­ri­etjie will forever re­gret what hap­pened that day, she stresses what she’s said all along: she never meant to hurt Mundolene.

“I’m not a cruel per­son – the slap oc­curred in a mo­ment of hurt and anger.

“But I could im­me­di­ately see Mundolene wasn’t her­self. She didn’t lash out at me as usual. She just turned around, put her sun­glasses in her hand­bag and walked away.”

Ma­ri­etjie, who’s 1,52m tall and weighed 51kg at the time, says she didn’t even think she’d hit Mundolene, who was 1,72m, that hard.

It was once with the back of her hand on the teen’s chin and not with her fist as was re­ported.

That’s why it was such a shock when they came to her ho­tel room to tell her Mundolene had died. “I couldn’t be­lieve it. Only when I couldn’t find a pulse did I re­alise it was true. She re­ally was dead.”

MA­RI­ETJIE was work­ing as a phar­ma­cist’s assistant when she met Mike in 2004. She was 21, he was 12 years her se­nior, di­vorced with two small chil­dren – Mundolene was four and Wil­lie still a baby.

They’d been dat­ing for just three months when she fell preg­nant with Morné. Mike sup­ported her through­out the preg­nancy and they mar­ried in 2008.

Hav­ing an in­stant fam­ily was an easy ad­just­ment, she says, and Mike was an in­volved dad.

“I’ve al­ways loved chil­dren. Fam­ily has al­ways been very im­por­tant to me. I would help bathe Mundolene, colour in with her and comb her hair.”

She laughs when she says the mar­riage was “moon­light and roses” in the early days. But over the years they started fight­ing about the chil­dren more and more.

“I be­lieve kids should be taught man­ners. I was strict with our son and when Mundolene and her brother would visit over week­ends the same rules would ap­ply to them.”

She never hit the kids, she says. “They just knew the naughty cor­ner.”

Ma­ri­etjie says Mundolene had al­ways been dif­fi­cult and hadn’t made peace with her par­ents’ di­vorce.

In 2010 Mike started work­ing in the min­ing in­dus­try abroad so he could bet­ter pro­vide for her and the chil­dren.

Ma­ri­etjie and Morné went to live in Mar­gate and Mike would come home dur­ing school hol­i­days when Mundolene and Wil­lie would also come to stay.

Ma­ri­etjie felt she was al­ways com­pet­ing for her hus­band’s time and at­ten­tion. “There was never enough time just to sit and chat. The chil­dren al­ways came first.”

Then sud­denly in the mid­dle of 2013 Mundolene (then 12) moved in with Ma­ri­etjie af­ter she’d ap­par­ently fallen out with her mom.

Things went well at first but then she and Mundolene start­ing hav­ing dis­agree­ments, es­pe­cially about house­hold chores and keep­ing her room clean. “She was ex­tremely un­tidy,” she says. Mundolene also played Ma­ri­etjie and Mike off against each other to get what she wanted.

“I’d of­ten hear, ‘ You’re not my mom; you can’t tell me what to do.’ And I’d tell her, ‘In my home you’ll do what I say. If you’re not will­ing to stick to the rules you’re wel­come to move back in with your mother’.”

Mundolene’s school­work also started

(From pre­vi­ous page) to suf­fer and the fol­low­ing year Ma­ri­etjie, at her wits’ end, moved in with Jan in Springs. “I just couldn’t cope any longer.”

Two-and-a-half months later Mike de­cided Mundolene should go back to live with her mom and Ma­ri­etjie moved back into the fam­ily home.

“I think Mundolene blamed me for that,” Ma­ri­etjie says. “When­ever she came to stay dur­ing the school hol­i­days she’d be hor­ri­ble to me. We were con­stantly at each other’s throats.”

Mundolene started smok­ing. “She was re­bel­lious but I did my best,” Ma­ri­etjie says tear­fully. “I did love her.”

THE Mau­ri­tius trip in Oc­to­ber 2016 had been Ma­ri­etjie’s idea – but only for her, Mike and Morné. “I was long­ing for just one hol­i­day to­gether as a fam­ily. Qual­ity time. Mike isn’t re­ally a beach per­son but I’d wanted to en­joy the sun­sets with him, go out to din­ner, watch shows at the re­sort. Just be to­gether.”

But a week be­fore they were due to leave Mike told her Mundolene and Wil­lie would be com­ing too.

“I felt like a popped bal­loon. All the air went out of me.”

Ma­ri­etjie didn’t en­joy the flight. She and Mundolene bick­ered and things with Mike were also strained. When they ar­rived at Ho­tel Riu Cre­ole on the is­land, Mike chose to share a room with his two older kids, while Ma­ri­etjie and Morné shared the other room.

The next morn­ing, 5 Oc­to­ber, they all went down to break­fast ex­cept Mundolene, who didn’t want to go.

Later the teenager joined her fa­ther and broth­ers in the pool. When it was time to go back to the room Ma­ri­etjie asked Mundolene to fetch tow­els for the boys.

She says Mundolene snapped at her, “You’re my nanny. My dad pays you – do it your­self!”

That was when Ma­ri­etjie, who’d been hav­ing a mock­tail, lost her tem­per.

“I wanted to chuck the le­mon and ice in her face but the glass slipped from my hand and landed next to Mundolene.”

Ma­ri­etjie told her to share her towel with her broth­ers and went up to her room with Morné, where she took a tran­quil­liser.

She’d wanted to have a lie-down but Mike stormed in. They had a huge row be­cause she’d “made such a scene in pub­lic”.

Ma­ri­etjie rushed from the room and came across Mundolene in the pas­sage.

“I took her by the arm and told her to go and get her brother and come to the room. I wanted all of us to calm down and start show­er­ing.”

“Let go of my f**king arm,” Mundolene ap­par­ently yelled at her.

And that’s the mo­ment Ma­ri­etjie lost it. She back­handed Mundolene across the chin.

“I im­me­di­ately thought, ‘What the hell have I just done?’ I couldn’t be­lieve it. It was the first time in my life I’d done any­thing like it. I’d never hit any of the chil­dren.”

She turned around to see if Mundolene was okay and saw her walk­ing away, tuck­ing her sun­glasses in her hand­bag.

Ma­ri­etjie went back into the room and lay down – she could feel the tran­quil­lis-

‘I felt like a popped bal­loon. All the air went out of me’

er start­ing to take ef­fect.

About 20 min­utes later Mike came back into the room and told her Mundolene had died.

“I was in shock. I knew I’d only slapped her. I said to him, ‘It can’t be. You’re ly­ing. It can’t be true.’ ”

Ma­ri­etjie found Mundolene on the bed in the ho­tel doc­tor’s con­sul­ta­tion room.

“I even said to her, ‘Mundolene, get up! It’s not funny any­more’.”

She put the heart mon­i­tor on Mundolene’s fin­ger. And it was a sound she’ll never for­get. “You ex­pect it to be like in the movies – beep, beep, beep. But it was a long and con­stant beeeeeeeeeep. It was true. Mundolene was dead.”

She turned to her hus­band in shock. “Mike, I didn’t mean to kill your daugh­ter.”

THE days flowed into one an­other. In­car­cer­ated in a small is­land jail, she found daily life a men­tal and emo­tional strug­gle to sur­vive. “They’d un­lock the cell doors at 7.15am af­ter we’d been locked up for 15 hours. We were mostly two to a cell but it was of­ten un­bear­able. You’re locked in there with just a cham­ber pot.

“You just hope and pray you don’t need the loo or that your cell­mate doesn’t start vom­it­ing be­cause of the food.”

There was no break­fast, and lunch was rice only – but Ma­ri­etjie was al­ler­gic to the prison rice.

For din­ner she’d have a bread roll and rub­bery eggs or a lit­tle bit of fish or chicken. She’d save the other two bread rolls for break­fast and lunch. With the money Mike sent her she bought but­ter and peanut but­ter at the prison tuck shop.

“Ev­ery day was a strug­gle. You’re stuck be­hind bars. There’s no room to move. There’s a small ce­ment court­yard out­side and you’re among peo­ple who don’t speak your lan­guage. There’s noth­ing to do and there’s nowhere to es­cape to.”

She had to get used to cold show­ers but she learnt to en­joy them as they pro­vided her only bit of pri­vacy.

Although the other pris­on­ers were mean to her at first and called her a mur­derer, they didn’t as­sault her.

Once a week she saw a psy­chol­o­gist and she was put on an­tide­pres­sants. The un­healthy diet and the med­i­ca­tion made her gain weight.

She learnt to do needle­work, and read the books and did the crossword puz­zles Mike sent her. But most of the time she read her Bi­ble and prayed. “In the af­ter­noons I’d pray in the shower, and again in the evening. I had my own prayer, ‘For­give me Fa­ther, for what I’ve done. Lead me and pro­tect me, for You are my pro­tec­tor’. ”

At night she cried her­self to sleep be­cause she could not be there for Morné.

She could phone him for 10 min­utes twice a week and for 30 min­utes on Satur­days. She lived for these calls, she says.

“We had this thing – we’d tell each other, ‘I’ll see you in dream­land by the tree.’ If I got there first I had to wait for him. We’d al­ways said that to each other at home.”

With his fa­ther work­ing abroad and his mom in jail in Mau­ri­tius, Morné was left in the care of an au pair. Ma­ri­etjie is grate­ful to Mike and the au pair for look­ing af­ter her son so well.

She strug­gled a lot with feel­ings of guilt. “I think ev­ery­one deserves a chance. I’ve prayed about it and I be­lieve I de­serve a sec­ond chance.”

THE trial started in De­cem­ber and it emerged there’d been epilepsy med­i­ca­tion in Mundolene’s stom­ach at the time of her death. The pill hadn’t been ab­sorbed so it must have been taken less than two hours be­fore her death. Nei­ther Mike nor Ma­ri­etjie was aware Mundolene had epilepsy and Mundolene’s mother de­clined to an­swer YOU’s en­quiries.

The au­topsy re­port – which YOU has in its pos­ses­sion – shows the girl died of “mas­sive sub­arach­noid haem­or­rhage” or bleed­ing on the brain. The re­port in­di­cates a slap in the face couldn’t have caused the ex­tent of the bleed­ing.

Blood­work in­di­cated the girl hadn’t been us­ing epilep­tic med­i­ca­tion chron­i­cally. When she col­lapsed about 8m from where Ma­ri­etjie had slapped her, Mundolene’s blad­der had emp­tied and her eyes had rolled back in her head.

Ma­ri­etjie ac­cepts the slap could have caused an epilep­tic fit but there had been no way of know­ing it at the time.

She also ac­cepts, hard as it may be, that Mike doesn’t want to be with her any­more.

She’s lost a lot, she says – time with her child, sta­bil­ity, her hus­band. And she misses Mundolene. “I miss her jokes. I even miss see­ing her straighten her hair for hours at a time. She was like a daugh­ter to me too and I loved her a lot.”

The big­gest les­son she’s learnt is to watch what you say in an ar­gu­ment. She some­times thinks that if she’d known what she knows now she’d never have be­come in­volved with a man who had kids.

“Peo­ple are quick to judge but they don’t know the whole story. I’m not the mon­ster I’ve been made out to be.”

She plans to go to Mar­gate soon to fetch her be­long­ings and see her son.

Ma­ri­etjie knows there’s a long road ahead of her as she tries to pick up the pieces of her life. “But I be­lieve the worst is over. I’m out. I’m free.” S *Names have been changed to pro­tect mi­nor chil­dren.

‘Ev­ery­one deserves a chance. I’ve prayed about it and I be­lieve I de­serve a sec­ond chance’

For now Marietjie is stay­ing with her brother in Springs on Joburg’s East Rand. He’s pre­pared a room spe­cially for her, and his Great Dane puppy, Max, “pro­tects” her at night.

Marietjie ‒ who’d been in prison for 18 months in connection with the death of her step­daugh­ter, Mundolene, while on hol­i­day in Mau­ri­tius ‒ was re­united with her brother Jan Ja­cobs at Jo­han­nes­burg’s OR Tambo In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

Mike Vosloo, Marietjie’s es­tranged hus­band, ac­cepts she didn’t cause the death of his daugh­ter (ABOVE), but de­spite hav­ing pre­vi­ously sup­ported her has now told her he wants a di­vorce. |9

SUP­PLIED

Marietjie with Jan, one of the few peo­ple who sup­ported her dur­ing her night­mare in jail.

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