‘Mom driven to break­ing point’

The Sunday Independent - - FRONT PAGE - LESEGO MAKGATHO [email protected]

A MOTHER driven to break­ing point. This is how Zinhle Ma­ditla’s fam­ily de­scribe the 24-year-old woman who al­legedly poi­soned her four chil­dren at Klar­inet, Emalahleni, in Mpumalanga.

Ma­ditla’s chil­dren Mi­nenhle, 8, Bless­ing, 7, Shani­qua, 3, and 11-mon­thold Ethen al­legedly in­gested a rat poi­son mixed with their food on De­cem­ber 26 – one day af­ter Christ­mas.

Speak­ing to The Sun­day In­de­pen­dent, Ma­ditla’s un­cle, Kevin Bal­ance, 36, re­flected on the events lead­ing up to the grue­some dis­cov­ery. Bal­ance said Ma­ditla seemed her usual self a week be­fore Christ­mas.

“We went out for Christ­mas lunch, enjoying our­selves and the kids were hav­ing fun. We slept over at her (Ma­ditla’s) place and the next morn­ing we re­turned to our place. My wife came back and Zinhle stayed be­hind. We then asked her where the kids were and she said they were by the fa­ther’s place. She didn’t show any sad­ness or tension, she was re­laxed. She was in a good mood,” said Bal­ance.

The fol­low­ing day the un­cle re­turned to where Ma­ditla shared a rented room with her kids to check on his dog. He re­leased it from its chain and played with it.

“As dogs have more height­ened senses than us hu­mans, it kept sniff­ing around the door and win­dow area. Noth­ing oc­curred to me at the time. I didn’t take no­tice and chained the dog. It didn’t oc­cur to me some­thing was ter­ri­bly wrong.”

A few days later his wife called him to let him know they were plan­ning a fun day with their kids and sug­gested they fetch Zinhle with her kids.

“Upon ar­rival, we saw a lot of flies around and won­dered where that stench was com­ing from. When my wife ar­rived with the fam­ily to pick her up they didn’t find her there. They then broke the door open and found the kids had died. The youngest was just 11 months.”

Look­ing back at the tragedy, Bal­ance re­called that Ma­ditla was not happy. He be­lieves rais­ing the four chil­dren on her own was hard for her so she came to a point where she couldn’t take it any­more. The fam­ily said she wanted the best for her chil­dren but didn’t have the means to pro­vide for them.

Ma­ditla’s chil­dren did not share the same fa­thera and her un­cle be­lieves the chil­dren’s fa­thers didn’t sup­port the un­em­ployed young mother enough. While Ma­ditla never spoke much about her prob­lems, she often cried a lot.

“She used to call my wife and spoke about how she was strug­gling and how she felt like a fail­ure.”

While Ma­ditla cried out for help, the fam­ily be­lieves they were too late to help her deal with her de­pres­sion.

“She needed help. She cried out but not phys­i­cally. We were too blind to see the signs. Peo­ple are liv­ing with de­pres­sion. We should talk about it more, make peo­ple aware of it but most im­por­tantly work to­wards be­ing a sup­port sys­tem,” said Bal­ance.

They ad­mit­ted they were ini­tially an­gry with Ma­ditla but they had since for­given her af­ter her court ap­pear­ance. “We never went to court but we saw a video of her break­ing down.

“We were deeply an­gry with her. But upon see­ing a video of her in the dock, we see her re­morse. I be­lieve in for­give­ness, ev­ery­one de­serves a sec­ond chance. I be­lieve jus­tice must be served.”

Ma­ditla is ex­pected to ap­ply for bail in the Wit­bank Mag­is­trate’s Court to­mor­row.


THE kids al­legedly poi­soned by their mom.

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