Port Elizabeth – The woman accused of stabbing a man to death and injuring two others after finding them allegedly raping her 27-year-old daughter, says she would not do anything differently if placed in the same situation again.
"When I look back, I think I did the right thing as a mother. I think anyone would have done the same for their daughter, having seen what I saw," she told News24 shortly after charges of murder and attempted murder were formally withdrawn.
The woman appeared in the Lady Frere Magistrate's Court on Monday, where the senior public prosecutor took a decision not to prosecute.
The woman, who cannot be identified to protect her daughter's identity, was arrested at the beginning of September for murder and two counts of attempted murder.
She reportedly walked in on the men gang raping her daughter and intervened.
The men attempted to overpower he, but she reportedly fought back and killed one of the men and injured the other two.
She appeared in court and was later released on R500 bail.
The woman's heart-breaking story prompted outrage on social media, with many congratulating the mom for protecting her family, some saying they would have done the same.
'I was having sleepless nights'
Cape Town resident Natalie Kendrick started a fundraiser online to assist the "#LionMama" or "mother lioness" with legal and counselling fees.
Over R20 000 had been raised by Monday, September 11.
"It is the job of every mother to protect their children," said the 56-year-old mother of six.
The woman from Zwartwater in Qumbu, Eastern Cape, said she was thrilled that the charges had been formally withdrawn.
"I am very happy. I was scared when they were still talking about the matter, but now I am not scared anymore."
She said she was confused when she was told the news.
"I was really scared that I was going to jail. I was having sleepless nights thinking about it."
She said she was worried about what would happen to her children and elderly mother, if she went to jail.
"That was all that I thought about."
When asked to recount what had happened on that fateful day, she paused and said: "It is really difficult to talk about it."
'Thank you... from the bottom of my heart'
She did, however, say that her daughter was recovering well and that they were both receiving counselling.
To those who had rallied behind her and her family, she said: "Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart. If it was not for them, I would have never made it. I would be in jail.
"I thank the lawyers, those who supported us financially, and the community members."
Residents have been visiting the family to share their relief and excitement with the woman.
"I pray that I never see what I saw again. I pray that God never makes me do what I did again," she said.
Her lawyer Buhle Tonise told News24 that they had been hopeful from the onset that the case would be withdrawn.
Emotions in court
Describing the woman's reaction when the court heard that she was free to go, Tonise said: "She was shaking, she almost cried – she couldn’t stand. It was more emotional, than the excitement."
"Yesterday, [Sunday] she couldn't sleep… but now she is happy."
Tonise was happy that justice had been served.
Explaining why she took the case on a pro bono basis, she said: "More than being a lawyer, I took this case because I am a woman. It is no longer women that have to be portrayed as victims. If we are talking crime, then it must be balanced and we must not talk gender."
Tonise said it was great to have support from members of the public.
"Everybody in court screamed [after the announcement], they forgot that they were in court," she said.