*Mentally unwell mom strangles daughter,13, to death
*Suspect sent to Sbrana Psychiatric Hospital
In a tragic incident that shook the entire community, the life of a teenage student from Ditsweletse Junior School in Letlhakane was cut short by her own mother on Thursday.
The 13-year-old Thandi Mathatsa’s life was snuffed out by her 39-year-old mother at Modikwana ward in Serowe.
The form one student who stayed with her father and stepmother in Letlhakane took public transport to visit her mother in Serowe.
According to information unearthed by The Voice, the mother had earlier that week asked Thandi’s father to allow her to travel to Serowe as she planned to buy new clothes for her.
Excited at the prospects of new clothes, the bubbly Thandi left the diamond-mining town in the company of her mother that afternoon and headed to Serowe. She never lived to see the next day.
In an interview with The Voice, Number 2. District Officer Commanding Senior Superintendent Paul Oketsang said they received a report of a possible homicide that evening and when they got to the scene their attention was caught by the erratic behavior of the mother.
“What I can confirm to you is the mother is in custody as a murder suspect, but I’ve to quickly add that when we arrived at the scene the mother was visibly not well. She seemed to be hallucinating and we felt she needed to be seen by a professional,” said Oketsang.
The police boss said she was sent to Sekgoma Memorial Hospital and later referred to Sbrana Psychiatrist Hospital for further observation.
“It however has to be on record that she’s in police custody and we’re investigating her in connection with the death of her daughter,” he said.
Oketsang further told The Voice from their preliminary investigations, the daughter is likely to have died from suffocation.
“We can’t however jump to conclusions. We’ll have to wait for the postmoterm to know the exact cause of death. This is a sensitive matter particularly because it involves a child and a possibly unstable mother,” said Oketsang.
In a leaked conversation from a Botswana Teachers Union WhatsApp group, Thandi’s mother had earlier in the week received bad news concerning her health from Sekgoma Memorial Hospital.
“Doctors had discovered that she had brain cancer which was already in its last stages,” said one group member.
A family member who spoke on condition of anonymity told The Voice that the incident has shaken residents of Modikwana ward in Serowe. The elderly lady described Thandi as a well mannered child who would never hurt a fly.
“She was a loveable girl, and her death has left me in shock,” she said.
The old woman claims she was one of the first people to learn of the tragic news on Thursday around 1900hrs.
“She first told her neighbor, and then the news trickled in to other yards as we are all related in this ward,” she said.
The old woman further revealed that while Thandi’s mother has always been an unpredictable personality, she was never a dangerous person.
“She was a troubled soul, but not a murderer,” she said.
Psychological Counsellor and Relationship Expert Thandi Malebang said a woman can get depressed at an early stage after giving birth due to hormonal imbalance. “This is postnatal depression”.
Another distress she said can come from deep hatred that builds over time. Malebang said this is also common amongst parents who are no longer together.
“If the other parent (mostly women) realise that their child is too attached to the father they can develop chronic jealousy that can turn into hatred,” she said.
Once they realise that the other party is too fond of the child, they start stalking them and investigating to find out how they live. To inflict pain on the other party, the jealous parent may decide to harm the child.
Malebang cited incidents in South Africa, where a woman crossed a flooding river with three babies after her boyfriend ended the relationship.
“It is common, in another incident, a 29-year old Free State mother poisoned her five children and then committed suicide after she had a fallout with her husband.”