Everyone failed you, magistrate says as he sentences mom for murder

2016-11-30 14:16
Michelle Koekemoer (Supplied)

Michelle Koekemoer (Supplied)

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Vanderbijlpark – "You are not in the dock alone. Your parents, your husband and your community have failed you."

These were regional Magistrate Robert Button's words to Sonia Koekemoer, 34, as he sentenced her to 18 years in jail on Tuesday in the Vanderbijlpark Magistrate's Court for strangling her 9-year-old daughter Michelle to death with a rope in June, Netwerk24 reported.

Button said his intention with this sentence was not for her to lose hope, but "Michelle is the most important person in this case".

Koekemoer originally claimed a robber climbed through a window in their flat and strangled her child. She claimed she woke up with a rope around her own neck that morning.

Button said he spent a lot of time contemplating a suitable sentence for Koekemoer.

"First of all, I thought about the name Michelle. I researched its meaning. It is a French name that means gift from God.

"If you believe in a God, you will one day, when your hourglass runs out, have to account for this deed."

Button had harsh words for the justice system, Koekemoer's community, parents and estranged husband.

The fact that she tried to commit suicide 27 times and got no help is an indictment on the community.


Sonia Koekemoer's mother Elize and stepdad Dawie Viljoen comfort her after sentencing. (Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24)

'Talk less and do more'

He said South Africa is one of the countries with the highest child murder rates.

"Michelle is part of this statistic now. It is shocking how people in this country neglect and abuse their children. It is time for everyone in this country to do their share. People should talk less and do more."

Button said it looked like Koekemoer spent her time behind bars to get her life in order.

"When you appeared here for the first time, you looked twice your age. Now you look like a 33-year-old [sic] woman."

Button asked her after sentencing if she was taking her anti-depression medication and if correctional services was looking after her properly.

She said yes and smiled.

"You have to take it. The state has money for medication for people in jail," he said.

He said she would not have to spend 18 years in jail as she could be released on parole sooner.

"It all depends on you. You have your whole life ahead of you," he said.

Read more on:    vanderbijlpark  |  crime

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