Murdered mom feared for children

Court hears chilling words of woman’s police statement before savage attack

A pathologist has detailed how a Humansdorp woman’s skull was fractured so badly when her husband allegedly bashed her head in with a rock that she ended up swallowing her own blood. Just a month earlier, the 36-year-old mother of three had obtained a protection order after she told police that she feared for her life.

“[My husband] said if I call the police he will kill me. I feared for my children’s [lives],” were the chilling words in her statement to Humansdorp police.

Her 40-year-old husband, a former Kouga municipality roadworks department employee, has pleaded not guilty in the Port Elizabeth High Court to charges of assault, the contravention of the protection order and murder.

Yesterday, on the fourth day of trial, his elderly parents arrived at court. His mother spoke softly to him in the dock and then embraced him as he started to sob.

The parties’ names have been withheld to protect the identities of the couple’s vulnerable children.

Pathologist Dr Celeste Herbst said she conducted a postmortem on the deceased on June 9 last year – four days after the woman’s body was found near the Humansdorp sports grounds.

Herbst said lacerations were found on the head, face and neck.

“Her skull and base of the skull as well as jaw were fractured,” she told the court.

“She suffered from extensive blood loss. The blood seeped down into her mouth. She also had bleeding on the brain.

“Her injuries were synonymous with the repetitive action of someone assaulting her with a blunt object.”

The woman’s face was apparently so swollen and bruised that family members had battled to identify her.

The accused stared ahead, expressionless, as evidence on his wife’s gruesome injuries was led.

On May 18, she had reported a case of assault to the Humansdorp police, claiming her husband had beaten her and held a knife to her neck during the early hours of May 16.

She claimed he had threatened to kill her and their children, aged 10, 14 and 17, should she scream and alert a nearby police van.

“He told [our son] to be quiet or else he would kill him, just like he would do to his mother,” the woman’s statement reads.

The court had earlier heard details of the couple’s strained relationship. They often fought due to jealousy but the fights spiralled out of control when they had been drinking alcohol.

While the content of the woman’s statement was read to the court, Judge Phakamisa Tshiki found it to be inadmissible in terms of the hearsay rule.

The trial continues today.

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