'Mama Jackie' breaks down in court

2016-01-29 20:00


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Pretoria – An elderly Diepsloot woman - once praised for her work with Aids orphans in the township, but then convicted of child trafficking - collapsed in the High Court in Pretoria on Friday.

Judge Mohamed Ismail had to adjourn the hearing after Jacqueline Ramohlola, better known as Mama Jackie, started sobbing hysterically shortly after she started giving evidence in mitigation.

He later postponed the trial until Monday when it became clear that Ramohlola, 62, was so emotional that she would not be able to continue her evidence on Friday.

The trial will have to be postponed again on Monday until a further date because the judge is not available for the rest of the court term.

Ramohlola was convicted in December last year of selling a baby girl and a 6-year-old boy for R30 000 to a childless couple from KwaMhlanga in Mpumalanga.

The couple could not have children of their own. Although they were legally adopting the children, the money was supposed to be for their registration. The children are now in foster care with the couple.

The court rejected Ramohlola's evidence that the couple had told her they were social workers, had donated the money, and then borrowed the children for the holidays.

Ramohlola was further convicted of running an unregistered childcare centre and continuing to take in children despite a high court interdict to stop the work at her Dellfire Care Centre in Diepsloot.

Ramohlola testified that she was raised by her grandmother and never knew her mother. After her grandmother's death she was raped by two men when she was 12 years old.

Neighbours chased her away when she went for help and she became a street child.

"I started thinking about the life of street kids. Another lady found me and raised me. By then I was already 30 years old.

"I was later married, but I don't want to say too much about my life because it's difficult," she testified before she broke down and lay on the floor in the witness box, sobbing inconsolably.

Correctional officer Ayatolla Matseke told the court that Ramohlola was a suitable candidate for a noncustodial sentence.

He suggested that she be sentenced to correctional supervision for three years, linked to the completion of certain programmes, house arrest and community service at a school for the disabled near her home.

Matseke said house arrest could not be regarded as a light sentence as Ramohlola could not simply do as she wished and would have to adhere to conditions, failing which she could be brought back to court to be sentenced.

He said the department usually regarded offenders older than 60 as unsuitable for community service, but the court could make it a condition of her sentence.

The prosecution said they wanted Ramohlola declared not suitable to work with children. Matseke responded that she could be directed to a different institution for her community service.

Ramohlola's bail was extended until her next court appearance.

Read more on:    pretoria  |  crime

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