Woman, who stabbed lover's wife with steak knife, has sentence reduced

2018-11-05 19:12
The Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein. (iStock)

The Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein. (iStock)

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The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has overturned a Gauteng woman's murder conviction after she stabbed her lover's wife to death with a steak knife six years ago. Instead, it ruled that she was guilty of culpable homicide.

The SCA also reduced Odetta Botha's 12-year prison sentence to three years. 

The conviction arose from an incident between her and her lover's wife at a Dros restaurant in Krugersdorp, Gauteng, on July 27, 2012. 

"The conviction of murder and the sentence of 12 years' imprisonment are set aside," Justice Zukisa Laurah Lumka Tshiqi ruled last week.   

"The order of the Gauteng Local Division, Johannesburg, is replaced with the following: The appellant is convicted of culpable homicide and is sentenced to three years' imprisonment," Tshiqi said.

Botha was granted bail of R5 000 pending the outcome of her appeal in the SCA.

Parking lot altercation

According to the judgment, the deceased died as a result of complications stemming from a stab wound to her anterior chest wall.  

On the day of the incident, Botha and her lover had been sitting at one of the restaurant's outside areas when the man's wife arrived with her son, the judgment states.

The deceased approached her husband and Botha from behind, assaulted her (Botha) and shouted and swore at her. 

"She thereafter left and proceeded towards the parking area of the restaurant. Her husband followed, apparently in order to calm her down, but the appellant did not move from where she was sitting," reads the judgement.  

"The deceased picked up a stone and smashed the windscreen of her husband's motor vehicle. 

"There was another altercation between the deceased and her husband around the parking area, but she went back to Botha, swore at her and assaulted her again."

Attack 'unexpected'

Botha admitted that she stabbed the deceased with the steak knife that was in front of her on the table.

At the time, she said she was not aware that it was a knife because it was wrapped in a serviette, adding that she realised that she had stabbed the woman when she saw her bleeding. 

Judge Tshiqi said there was no reason to reject Botha's evidence that during the incident she was in pain and frightened. 

"All of this suggests that the appellant (Botha) was attacked unexpectedly by the deceased on the second occasion and that she could not think rationally. 

"I also accept, as the court a quo did, that the assault was such that she could not reasonably be expected to fold her hands and do nothing in order to avert the attack," Tshiqi said.

The judge added that there was no evidence that Botha deliberately or purposefully aimed a firm thrust at the deceased. 

"On the contrary, the evidence shows that she simply turned around while sitting and directed a stabbing movement towards the deceased's upper body. This suggests that the appellant's conduct was an impulsive reaction to the attack which was being inflicted on her."

Tshiqi said the evidence showed that Botha did not foresee the possibility of death. 

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