Killer mom gets five years’

2008-01-22 00:00

A 20-year-old Newcastle mother who strangled her toddler son while emotionally traumatised last September was sentenced yesterday to five years’ imprisonment in terms of legislation that allows for the sentence to be converted to correctional supervision after she has served one-sixth of it.

In addition, Judge Piet Koen imposed a wholly suspended sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment on Yolande Radebe, who pleaded guilty to the murder.

Koen said when sentencing her that she will have to live with the memory of her actions forever. He said that while taking into account Radebe’s personal circumstances and the factors that led to the killing of the child, Wandile Siphephelo Radebe, the court also could not ignore the severity of the offence and tragic fate of the little boy.

It is important to send a message that this type of conduct will not be tolerated, the judge added.

He said that no matter how traumatic an adult’s own experiences are, they can never excuse conduct such as this.

The court learned from a probation officer’s report that Radebe was forced to leave school in grade 10 because of an unwanted pregnancy, which resulted in the birth of Wandile. She later returned to school and completed her matric


Her mother hoped that she would continue with tertiary education, and Radebe appeared to have "good and bright prospects for the future", the judge said.

However, in 2007 she learned that she was again pregnant and on discovering this, Radebe’s mother ordered her to move out of the house.

At that stage she found out that she was pregnant with twins. Wandile’s father did not pay maintenance and the father of the unborn babies also refused to accept responsibility for them.

Destitute and abandoned, Radebe’s emotional state was "shattered".

Koen said she clearly suffered emotional trauma at the time, which was compounded when she tested positive for HIV.

Judge Koen told Radebe that he noticed from the report that she is a Christian. "You will know that there are so many childless couples who would give anything to have a child of their own. Children are a very, very special gift from God. They are entitled to the protection of society," he said.

The judge said that in his view, good prospects exist for Radebe’s rehabilitation. He was also informed that the recently born twins have been removed from Radebe to a place of safety, but that the welfare authorities will encourage monitored contact between her and the babies.

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