Mercy for mom who stole cough syrup

2012-03-27 08:40

Johannesburg - An unemployed single mother who stole a R20 bottle of cough syrup for her sick toddler had her jail sentence reduced by the North Gauteng High Court, The Star reported on Tuesday.

Linah Matshika had been convicted by the Mamelodi Magistrate's Court of theft and sentenced to a R2 000 fine or six months in jail. Half the fine and jail term were suspended.

The 26-year-old managed to pay the R1 000 fine to stay out of jail. However, judges Brian Southwood and Cynthia Pretorius on Monday ordered the clerk of the Mamelodi court to give Matshika her money back.

During a review of the case, the judges also reduced the sentence to a R300 fine, wholly suspended.

  • Jason - 2012-03-27 08:47

    Strange - but i feel okay about this.

      Martin - 2012-03-27 11:04

      Damn straight...I would have done the same for my daughter...

      allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-03-27 11:46

      Completely understandable ergo the leniency but if she can't afford the R20 for syrup how the hell is she caring for her child on a permanent basis?

      Erich - 2012-03-27 13:06

      This is one case where justice should have been administered with a huge dose of mercy. Well done High Court.

  • Pulverturm - 2012-03-27 08:50

    She had to steal a R20 bottle of cough mixture, but could afford R1000 bail? How does that work exactly?

      yolande.rwaai - 2012-03-27 09:08

      Err, may be someone paid it for her?!

      anthro45 - 2012-03-27 09:12

      Yolandi, then she could have asked for R20.00 from the person who helped pay the R1000.00 from the start and saved him a lot of money.

      Jobho - 2012-03-27 09:34

      anthro45, some people don't give money until you are deep in a crisis. or maybe someone else heard her story and decided to bail her out. its actually a sad story of a mother being pushed to the edge

      richard.hipkin - 2012-03-27 12:56

      @anthro45, do you just give people money when they ask you? Maybe when someone does come begging at the traffic light you will now think twice?

  • RoryKlein - 2012-03-27 08:53

    I understand why she did this and feel the courts should have been lenient in her punishment. Unlike the judge that let a Nigerian man go free that had been convicted before for armed robbery in the 90's. He was given a 5 year suspended sentence for using a skimming machine for credit card fraud. Not only that but the name he was using was a Xhosa name which meant he was using a false ID. Go figure...

      chris.debeer1 - 2012-03-27 09:40

      I agree i wonder sometimes how justice works. Card skimming is self enrichment send him back!!

  • pat.pugheparry - 2012-03-27 08:54

    Thank goodness for someone with compassion

  • bronwyn.evans - 2012-03-27 08:56

    Wow - rapists and murderers get "punished" more leniently than this poor woman. Where is the justice in this country? I am not condoning what she did but she did it for her sick child unlike our government who steal millions for bling parties and get away with it on full pay.

      Luvo - 2012-03-27 17:49

      I blame whites

  • Kevin.snake - 2012-03-27 08:58

    well done to the judge and the team that worked on this case!

  • mholthuysen - 2012-03-27 09:02

    A judge with the heart - and in my view a proper decision - not quite like the judge yesterday who let off an armed robber...

  • hlongfamily - 2012-03-27 09:02

    Great to hear some compassion. I guess that this shows that a desparate mother would do anything for a sick child. Why, the health system has crashed as we all know. I am generalising, as i dont know the circumstances in the North West, but like most of the other reported problems, some of these folk need to get to the clinic at 5 in the morning in the hope of being seen by a doctor if they are lucky, who would then dispense the medication. Then the next hurdle is, is the pharmacy still open, what are the queues like, and is the medication in stock? Why can't the health services get it right for the masses.

  • Julie - 2012-03-27 09:06

    Desperate times call for desperate measures. If our health system was running as it should it would not have ended this way.

      Deon - 2012-03-27 12:30

      Next time she should rather go to a clinic early in the morning. It is free.

  • elizabeth.miyelani - 2012-03-27 09:13

    We thank that he gave this case to this two judges who have a good heart. Shame poor mom she only did it for her sick child, and ul find that this gel is not a thief but the situation forced her to do what she did. We as people we also do things that we not proud of.

  • roannej - 2012-03-27 09:14

    Shame on d shopkeeper who actually had dis poor desperate mom arrested,he shud hv jus taken his mixture back&let her go...

  • William - 2012-03-27 09:14

    for the sake of the child it's OK.

      Ashliegh - 2012-03-27 09:55

      she mustnt get used to the stealing its a bad habbit coz now she is gonna go to jail for steling

  • Brad.Kopping - 2012-03-27 09:16

    So if you commit a murder, rape, hijacking or robbery you get a slap on the wrist and R200 bail...but if you steal cough syrup or a loaf of bread its a R2000 fine and 20 years in prison!

  • Patrick - 2012-03-27 09:29

    Honestly feel for the mother, its not like she took the cough mixture and while she was at it took some luxuries as well, no. She only took the cough mixture which means she wanted so desperately to help her child. The health ministry should be very ashamed of themselves, if at all they ever hear about this case.

  • lmathebe - 2012-03-27 09:30

    sometimes we've to think with our hearts but i do'nt encourage shoplifting as it affects turn-overs of stores and potential investors view us in a negative way.The other issue is the circumstances.Actually i think the father if alive and working should be fined:negligence!!

  • Grant - 2012-03-27 09:32

    And some politians who committed worse crimes are still serving in parliament. Maybe if they steal a little less this poor woman didn't have to resort to stealing a R20 bottle medicine for her ill child.

      watsongeorgejan - 2012-03-27 11:35

      Amen !!!

      Luvo - 2012-03-27 17:44

      Whites are stealing in from us, as they stole our land

      Luvo - 2012-03-27 17:44

      Whites are stealing in bulks from us, as they stole our land

  • solverman - 2012-03-27 09:36

    and the Nigerian that was let off for card skimming... Cant believe a mother was handed that initial sentence, out of desperation for her child. And a card skimmer walks away laughing, I am glad some magistrates come to their senses. Stealing is still wrong, but I can almost understand it in these circumstances

  • Gemma-Leigh - 2012-03-27 09:40

    Good grief!!! I understand that theft cannot be condoned, but for goodness sake the woman stole a R20 bottle of cough syrup for her sick child. If I was the shop owner I'd simply warn her not to steal again and taken the R20 out of my own pocket. I'm a single mom too...its not easy, but I at least have a job so I'm already better off than she is. Truly I'm so happy those two judges had the compassion others lacked!! It's not like she mugged or hijacked someone in her desperation. This country needs to keep things in perspective!!!

  • liezel.wolfaardt - 2012-03-27 09:43

    shame ive always said - if my child is sick or hungry and i do not have the money to get the meds or a break i too will walk into any store and take it. Sometimes we forget that it is tough out there. Many ppl think its all just choices and yes lots of times it is esp having kids knowing life is hard enough without kids. Life after kids is just what it is. im glad the judge told the court to give Matshika her money back and i pray ppl will help her to get the proper meds and a check up for the baby....

  • eradingoana - 2012-03-27 09:49

    These are the Judges SA needs. Mercy and handling the case according to circumstances not according to statistics.

  • ardenharvey - 2012-03-27 09:52

    She probably loaned the R 1000 from a loan shark charging her crazy interest... vicious circle! Glad the court showed compassion. Again the debate arises around public healthcare...where is the ANC on this? When are they going to perform in this arena? How many people steal or worse; die because they cannot get there health care policies on track.

  • Ashliegh - 2012-03-27 09:53

    shame poor lady

  • Tony Lapson - 2012-03-27 09:55

    In a properly run country, the government wouldn't try making money off it's poorest,

      Luvo - 2012-03-27 17:39

      What do you mean?

  • Moi - 2012-03-27 10:06

    She was trying to help her many of us wouldn't do the same thing if we were desperate enough??

  • Clifford - 2012-03-27 10:07

    I would like to praise the judge/magistrate that have reviewed the case. Although I do not promote theft but I am greatful. This just highlights the what many people go through on a daily basis. Having to steal to feed their children and treat them for illness and desease.

  • mhlengwem - 2012-03-27 10:12

    I wish the government that I am paying tax to could realize how desperate we poor are. the R1000.00 was actually borrowed from a loan shark, further making the issue even more desperate. Oh my we really deserve this?

      richard.hipkin - 2012-03-27 12:59

      It's not all doom and gloom, this story shows there is always hope...

  • Nasiefa - 2012-03-27 10:20

    I would do the same for my toddlers maybe even worse !!! a mother's love for her child is unconditional even if it means going to jail she will do it!!!!

  • Nicki.Labuschagne - 2012-03-27 10:21

    Wise and compassionate judgement - there but for the grace of God, go I. This is what we need in SA - well done.

  • Dieter - 2012-03-27 10:24

    This is really sad. I would like to know which one of shops actually found it OK to convict this mother. Name and shame this shop. Where is the humanity in all of this. I believe that this shop should feel ashamed for not being willing to let the lady go and try to assist her. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Stealing is wrong BUT I bet that most if not all of people who have the ability to comment here have a roof over their heads, food, nice car ETC. Not one of us would fully understand what it is like to have nothing. I ask you.... Where is our humanity in all of this?

      Werner - 2012-03-27 10:25

      R20 Time 1000 botles of syrup later....

      Deon - 2012-03-27 12:33

      I agree with Werner, shops pay thousands p/m for security staff, camera's etc. These meds. are free at clinics, you just have to get up early to be able to be helped.

      Luvo - 2012-03-27 17:37

      Why Deon? Because we're black

  • Ingrid - 2012-03-27 10:37

    where on earth did she find cough mixture for R20-00?

      Lauren - 2012-03-27 11:44

      Generic cough mixtures are cheap....clicks sells generic cough mixtures for infants for R9

      Luvo - 2012-03-27 17:34

      Go and ask your rich mother

  • veritas.odium.paret - 2012-03-27 10:39

    The brutal circumstances some women can confront and endure for their children sometimes shame me as a man. My own mother has fought her fair share of battles for me and as much I don't like to dwell on it, she's my biggest hero and I'd acknowledge her for my bravery and courage any day.

  • xipanda.head - 2012-03-27 10:41

    this story is bringing us together as one,after all we are humans and we do have sympathy.unlike the hatred the politics is feeding us.god bless white and blacks to unite againts the devil's will.

      Nicki.Labuschagne - 2012-03-27 11:00


      michelle.kirsten - 2012-03-28 00:48

      I agree. Amen to that.

  • Msika - 2012-03-27 11:43

    Give those judges a bell's

  • Lance - 2012-03-27 11:54

    god bless you mother ..very touching what you did

  • Ryan - 2012-03-27 12:04

    shame man why could the clinic not give her medicing for her child, atleast we can see that the judges are human and compassionate after all well done to them. where is our tax money going?

      Luvo - 2012-03-27 17:26

      It goes to those fat whites in Europe

  • Tshe - 2012-03-27 12:13

    Punishment should be affording a convicted a chance to repent not about worsening social ego of a particular individual. I happen to be in local government, its hard sometime to deal with socio-economic challenges of majority of our people. It is damn tough and some I wonder how are they pulling through due daily challenges of putting something on the table for their beloved family. Thank to go about feeding scheme in our primary schools and child grants. To those who have never been in the township is another day for you and me in Paradise.

  • Ntu2ko - 2012-03-27 12:52

    Very touching story as a shop owner has no compasion

  • Malesela - 2012-03-27 12:58

    Dis case reminds me of a policeman frend of mine who had to detain a lady who stole underwears. De guy ws visibly in pain n feelin bad. He ws convinced de lady nided dose panties, dey wer not of expensive label. But he felt helples. He blamed de store owners for callin police. Big up to dose judges who cn move out of deir comfort n feel de plight of our mothers. Proud of dem. To de brave mom: wat u did was wrong, but am proud of u. U deserve to b a mother. Wats wrong wth de shop owners? Y ddnt dey make de woman clean de store? N gv her dat medicine n R100:

  • Malesela - 2012-03-27 13:00

    Dis case reminds me of a policeman frend of mine who had to detain a lady who stole underwears. De guy ws visibly in pain n feelin bad. He ws convinced de lady nided dose panties, dey wer not of expensive label. But he felt helples. He blamed de store owners for callin police. Big up to dose judges who cn move out of deir comfort n feel de plight of our mothers. Proud of dem. To de brave mom: wat u did was wrong, but am proud of u. U deserve to b a mother. Wats wrong wth de shop owners? Y ddnt dey make de woman clean de store? N gv her dat medicine n R100:

      yolande.rwaai - 2012-03-27 21:59

      Lol @ the underwear story, I'm in stitches!

  • Giuliano - 2012-03-27 13:51

    and the judges where white, so much for people crying racism all the time..

  • mxolisi.nxele - 2012-03-27 17:28

    The 26-year-old managed to pay the R1000 fine but couldn't manage the R20 syrup... Fantastic!

      Luvo - 2012-03-27 17:31


      Jayson - 2012-03-27 22:36

      This was my first thought aswell. But I thought about it for awhile. She is a mother,,,,,, but she did break the law. I'm on the fence with this one.

  • Samara - 2012-03-27 18:40

    .. i am glad that the courts helped.. really awesome.. and i understand her plight, i would have done the same for my kids. but you know the clinics are free. maybe she should have considered that i mean she would not only have gotten the syrup but she could have gotten her kid check out as well. but like i said i understand her desperation ...

  • Raj - 2012-03-27 20:40

    I don't know the finer details of this petty crime. I do understand that Crime is Crime no matter how small the item is but the shopkeeper should be human enough who could have weighed the situation and given her a break as it was not a luxury item, any mother in a desperate situation could have done so. Especially from past news of delays in payments from the department of heaalth to its suppliers. Maybe the woman did take her child to the clinic who was out of stock like the area I live in. Nevertheless to the Judge that cut her some slack on her punishment, at least GOD has granted you some compassion towards another underprivilaged human being.

  • Iris - 2012-03-27 21:23

    Everyone of us reading or commenting on this is privileged .... we all have access to technology - much more than this mother had. Desperate times call for desperate measures and we sometimes act irresponsibly in the eyes of others. It is sad that some who are obviously equal on this platform cant lose their victim personalities and move on for the betterment of all.

  • Sandy - 2012-03-27 22:22

    I would do the same for my child, though it's not the right thing to do, but your child comes first/.

  • michelle.kirsten - 2012-03-28 01:05

    Hi, Devil's advocate here: the shopkeeper has right to report a crime. He followed procedures and she was lucky (which is good), but so much better than every shop making up rules as it goes along. Law-experts can decide merits of a case, that is as it should be. It is sad she was in such a desperate situation, but did she ASK before taking? I was also skint many times and once asked a pharmacist for help in return for helping her clean her window display.

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