Mom gets 10yrs for poisoning children

2012-05-15 07:32

Cape Town - A mother who attempted suicide after poisoning her two daughters - one a baby - was jailed for an effective 10 years on Monday.

Phamela Somkence, 29, appeared in plea bargain proceedings in the Western Cape High Court. Judge President John Hlophe declared the agreed sentence fair and just.

Although she had faced a life sentence for premeditated murder, senior State advocate Susan Galloway and defence counsel Lara Joubert agreed that there were substantial and compelling circumstances justifying a less severe sentence.

The poisoning took place in October 2010 in their shack at Brown's Farm in Nyanga.

Financial problems

According to the plea document, Somkence's daughters were from different fathers.

Both children were taken to hospital after Somkence told witnesses what she had done. The older child survived, but the infant was too small to live.

The court was told that even though Somkence had a secretarial diploma, she was unable to get a job and received no financial assistance from the children's fathers.

The only furniture in her shack was a single bed and a table.

The older child's father died the day after telling Somkence he had found a job and would start paying maintenance.

The baby's father had considered Somkence a nuisance and had assaulted Somkence when she approached him for financial assistance. She obtained a protection order against him.

According to the document, Somkence believed the deaths of her children and her own suicide to be the only solution to her financial problems.

  • Lyndatjie - 2012-05-15 07:42

    So effectively she could bring them into this world by being irresponsible and can therefor take them out of this world with very little responsibility as well? She could have dropped the kids off at the police station, she could have left them at relatives, she could have taken her plight to welfare societies or orphanages, but she chose to try and take their lives. 10 Years is not justice! Not for the life she took or the life she tried to take.

      Naomi - 2012-05-15 08:00

      YOu cant judge unless youve been in the situation. Yes what she did was horrible but you have no idea how desperate she may have felt at the time

      Marion - 2012-05-15 08:16

      Yes, she was irresponsible to have children when she could have used contraception. I could never imagine myself doing what she did. What she did is reprehensible but, according to reports, she did not do it as an act of revenge she did it out of desperation. I once worked with a woman (not black) whose husband died and she told me one day that if ever she reached a point where she felt she could not go on she would kill herself and take her children with her. In her mind no one else would be able to love and protect them as she did. While we're condemning this woman, let us not forget the four little ones who died when they went off searching for food. The system fails the poor (who many times have way too many children) constantly. Do you have any idea how many children there are in the welfare system? Maybe, as a sign that we care for them, this year each person on News24 could put together a shoe box of goodies for just one of those kids ( just to show that we do care for the plight of those who have been left to the social system.

      John - 2012-05-15 08:31

      i agree with all of the above, a sad sad story but still a horrible deed and i hope she can live with the fact that she killed her child. also marion half the donations that are given to orginizations fisrt do a detour past the nurses room or office before it gets to the kids.

      Gieljam - 2012-05-15 08:52

      "MOM" very unlikely rather "The HAG" 10 years is nothing she should be declared insane and locked away for ever.

      Liesbet - 2012-05-15 08:52

      I understand why she did it. Marion is right, you believe no-one can love them the way you do. My heart goes out to this mom and I simply think 10 years is not fair.... She is not a criminal but a desperate mom. Look at the shack she lived in.... What she did, is wrong on so many levels and we must do the possible to help these moms. First we need classes to understand poverty, I know I do...because contraception is our second thought when going sexually active, for the poor it is almost impossible.

      Gaby Ogaba - 2012-05-15 09:12

      who are we to judge dis mom remember you are not free from lifes undesired circumstances as long as u are alive. no one is perfect

      Marion - 2012-05-15 09:31

      @procold - I think that is very cynical although I understand where you are coming from. These gifts are given to the children by the organizers of the Shoebox Project and photos of them receiving their gifts (which contain very specific items for a specific child and age) appear on the website and there is regular feedback about the joy that was brought into their lives. Even if half the things were knicked out of my boxes the kids would still have had some nice pressies on Christmas Day. I wrapped my pressies in a unique way and even saw it in one of the pics posted online after Christmas last year (first year I participated). Doubt the box was put under the tree totally empty. Best Christmas I ever had.

      John - 2012-05-15 11:18

      @ marion, i didnt mean to knock shoebox and there are alot of good hearted people and charities that give, what i meant to say and know this for a fact that donations given and that are not managed end up with the staff of these institutions and never seem to get to the people that they were intended for, i saw this with cloths donation that were given to a certain org.

      Kirsten - 2012-05-15 13:46

      Quite sure you weren't born into this world at a disadvantage Lyndatjie... quite sure. Arrogant ignorant judgement.

  • shimi.mpete - 2012-05-15 07:47

    Poverty is evil

      Christopher - 2012-05-15 08:24

      poverty = ANC

      Jason - 2012-05-15 09:00

      u do of course realize that no matter how many jobs are created there will always be poverty. you cannot have rich if you dont have poor.

  • Thembi - 2012-05-15 07:51

    There is no excuse for poverty,why making kids that you can't look after?the hand of law must deal with this irresponsible baby maker coz I can't even call her a mom.

      Lyndatjie - 2012-05-15 07:59

      Thank you Thembi - you said it!

      AkaBrun - 2012-05-15 08:51

      Thembi who are to judge this woman. Matthew 7:1-5.It's easier said than done.

      Jason - 2012-05-15 09:02

      akaburn - where the fak was your bible when these kids were being poisoned. christians are the sickest of the lot.

      Schmee - 2012-05-15 10:41

      @TheJaydedKing. I'm not here to defend Christains but don't put then in a box. I know quite a few Christains who foster children and give willingly to charity organisations. All Christians are not bad. This woman was failed by Christians and non-Christians alike. AkaBrun is assuming the other two are Christian and pointing out that they shouldn't judge in the best way he knows. Don't slate him for that.

      Jason - 2012-05-15 10:45

      Schmee - Akabrun judges everyone about judgement. typical happy clapper. so busy judging ppl about judging that he doesn't realize he is judging himself.

      Diana - 2012-05-15 10:53

      A big like to you Thembi.

      Diana - 2012-05-15 10:55

      @AkaBurn: and what the bible says of a murder?

  • John - 2012-05-15 07:52

    The Judee should get ten years for corruption, you kill your innocent baby, and leave another with wounds more worst than death itself. Double life sentence for that B*^&$.

      dave.prinsloo - 2012-05-15 09:10

      more worst than death? Oi. Very intelligent comment and language use.

  • Karen - 2012-05-15 08:03

    What a tragic story, for all involved, it is easy to judge when you have never walked in the shoes of this woman - I am sure that she is probably mentally unstable, prison sentence is not the way to deal with this ..

  • Qhama Sontundu - 2012-05-15 08:07

    what drives a mother to point of killing her very own child? this woman lives way below the porverty line, imagine just owning a single bed (probably worn-out) and a table. the judge did a good job.

      Diana - 2012-05-15 10:57

      Yes he did.

  • cheldon.botes - 2012-05-15 08:12

    If you can't feed them, don't breed them!

      samantha.lister.09 - 2012-05-15 12:34

      100% agreed! People need to be more responsible. It's not as if it is impossible to get hold of free contraceptives in this country.

  • nokuthandwa - 2012-05-15 08:26

    A sad situation especially since she had a secretarial diploma and couldn't get a job. Having said that, I will never stop preaching that condoms and contraceptives are FREE.

  • Greg - 2012-05-15 08:27

    ...and yet Health Department employees will probably today alone steal more than a million rand...with this kind of sad result...our government really does care for the poor doesn't it... RIP

  • Lolly Fixberry - 2012-05-15 08:29

    Really?? financial problems? oh please.. that's no excuse. I don't - for one second - believe that, that psychopath of a woman deserved a fair trial. murder is murder, regardless of what the motive is/was!! clearly this woman had all her screws loose (people with sick, twisted mentalities)!!

      berthram - 2012-05-15 09:01

      You know, in hindsight we could all give solutions that seem plausible and effective. Yet when one is in a deep depression, stressed and in desperation, sense does not always come easily. Sort of the same when you find out your husband has been sleeping around or when a child is bullied at school, or in this case where a woman that is supposed to provide for her children can't do so and can see no clear future for her children or herself. In hindsight we all like to judge and solve problems that we aren't really qualified to do as we have not been in those situations. Don't judge unless you can fully say you have been in those shoes and situations. Pray for the people that still walk those shoes, and for yourself to never have to walk in them.

      motlolometsi - 2012-05-15 10:18

      That's true my sister,there r so many ways to tackle poverty.

  • Marvel Mushavhela - 2012-05-15 08:49

    We really aren't no ones to judge this poor woman. Surely she had a dream of becoming a mom one day unfortunately poverty kept on striking her. At least she had a basic qualification on board to pave her family's way up. I think she suffered some kind of depression/stress related problem. You can imagine how to spend a day for her was like, surely it was long like a year for considering that she have two children to feed and herself as well. Her barbaric boyfriends left her to suffer. Sometimes you need to visualise the situation before you can comment, it can harm even more if unnoticed. Surely the judge knows better that we do, he/she have been expose to those kind of cases for more than ones...

      Jason - 2012-05-15 09:03

      well balanced comment.

  • Francois - 2012-05-15 09:01

    I'm shocked how every one here has such awful things to say about this woman and not one for the Dad that refused to give her any child support. It's a sad case and just an example of how broken our society is. Instead of calling for her blood how about we start demanding our government do what it suppose to and look after the poorest of the poor.

  • sibusiso.s.ndaba - 2012-05-15 09:08

    If ur kids r a problem to u send em to wellfare.

  • nhla.prv - 2012-05-15 09:13

    See, thats what i call a f..k-up from our justice system. She should rot in jail. She planned this and executed the evil deed.

  • Angelica - 2012-05-15 09:16

    shame this hurts my heart

  • Ayanda Excellent Mpisane - 2012-05-15 09:20

    Although she committed a serious offence but she deserve a fair trial @ shame poor lady

  • Susan - 2012-05-15 09:21

    Oh the poor poor people. I hope the children did not suffer. I cannot agree with any of what she has done but I agree that society owes her some mercy.

      Diana - 2012-05-15 10:50

      Society and government most of all owes a lot to kids in orphanages which they do not see as one of the primary concerns. Billions of rands were blown regarding the whole e-toll thing but if it ever crossed their greedy minds one day it might happen so there's no one to drive on fancy and well maintained roads.

  • Diana - 2012-05-15 09:44

    What was wrong with dropping kids at the orphanage? I know for sure our orphanages are far from being 5 star hotels but considering the article living conditions at the convict's place were even worse.

  • - 2012-05-15 10:38

    R10k - is the what her children's lives are worth? Hang the wortless piece of trash.. nobody who does that the children (any living thing for that matter) deserves the worst punishment ever... RIP little one.. - 2012-05-15 10:40

      Hhhmm.. re-read my comment above: ANYBODY who does that to little children (any living thing for that matter) deserves the worst punishment ever...

      Diana - 2012-05-15 10:44

      I agree with you rickey. Its a very weak excuse to say that no one will love my children as i do and deprive them of an opportunity to love their own kids like no one else one day. If you acknowledge you cannot afford to have children - do not make them. State clinics supply you with free -of-charge condoms and anti-conceptional injections.

  • gwavu - 2012-05-15 10:49

    The choice this woman made to solve the situation she was facing was not good at all.I'm not judging her though but I think there are other things she would have done to sort the situation she was facing.

  • Lindiwe - 2012-05-15 11:25

    This is really pathetic!how can you have children when you know that you're not yet settled?cantraceptives are for that,protection or even abtinence is the safest way.She must have taken drugs,she could'nt even ask for assistance from friends and relatives?Women, lets not be child bearer machines rather fight for our future and get a life and strive on.

  • Linda - 2012-05-15 12:22

    Indeed very tragic - Poverty is a form of metaphoric violence within our society which can also effect the mental abilities of a person going through an experience of this nature, very sad but without the necessary support and knowledge people perish and so we cannot judge her if you have never "walked a mile in her shoes"

      Lena - 2012-05-15 13:40

      Linda, thanks for being the clearest voice of reason on this comment board. A tragic act rose from a tragic situation, which most of us cannot imagine being in. The common sense to use contraception/go to an orphanage/custody court is not born in us. We have to learn it. And we then have to have the strength and stability that come from not living in abject desperation and poverty to use it. This breaks my heart.

  • Linda - 2012-05-15 12:29

    Tragic indeed - poverty is a form of metaphoric violence within our society which can also effect a person's mental ability to cope with life experiences without the necessary support and knowledge people perish and so we cannot judge her if you have never "walked a mile in her shoes"

  • Sheralee - 2012-05-15 13:11

    It doesn't matter what brought this woman to do what she did. In the eyes of the law, she still murdered someone. She will have to be helped for any psychological issues, no doubt and that's definitely where the government may fail her. Depression doesn't necessarily mean that someone is unstable but she may not have been thinking clearly at the time. This lady also isn't "just" the government's problem. She is a product of our society. . . makes you think - doesn't it?

  • maquia1 - 2012-05-15 16:59

    Trying to take your life

  • maquia1 - 2012-05-15 16:59

    Trying to take your life

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