Ha Jane Letsoejane villagers were left in a state of shock on Wednesday after realising their neighbour had been keeping the death of his wife a secret.
Rethabile Ramatli, who had only been married for two months, allegedly suffocated his wife on Wednesday morning after suspecting she was cheating on him.
According to his uncle, Lebohang Tongoane, whose house is a few metres away from the suspect’s, he last saw the now-deceased on Wednesday morning at around 5 am.
“We share food; either my wife or ‘Maitumeleng (the now-deceased) prepare a meal for both families although we live in different houses. So when she came to our house in the morning, we thought she wanted to assist my wife with cooking, as usual, but then she went back to her house,” Tongoane said.
“I was in the garden in the afternoon when Ramatli came to our house to drink water then he asked my wife what the time was. My wife told him to ask his wife to come and serve him food as she had finished with the cooking. He agreed but never came back.
“One of the villagers came looking for him but we told him he was in his house. He went there but I am not sure whether he found him or not. I was outside when I saw Ramatli holding a spear, walking towards me in the company of another man.
“The man who was with him said Ramatli was going to fight a man who he accused of having an affair with his wife. He said Ramatli had told him that he had killed his wife because of that man.”
Ramatli, according to Tongoane, then went to his wife and told her to go and see what he had done.
“I saw my wife coming from Ramatli’s house and she was in shock although she did not say anything. I went to the house then found ‘Maitumeleng lying on her mattress covered with blankets as though she was sleeping.
“We asked Ramatli how he killed her because she had no injuries. He told us that he had covered her nose with his hand, while his knee was on her chest until she died. When I touched her I could not feel her heartbeat, her jaws had also stiffened and her feet were also cold.
“I asked the other villagers to call some elderly women in the village, so they could help us confirm whether or not she was dead. I could not understand how this had happened because I thought they had resolved their conflict.”
Tongoane said on Tuesday Ramatli had seen ‘Maitumeleng with a man from a neighbouring village. ‘Maitumeleng claimed she had gone to the shop to buy some spices when she met the man. The man had apparently offered to give her some money which she said she needed for taxi fare to her parents.
“‘Maitumeleng had gone to the man’s house to collect the money. She wanted to go back to her parent’s home as her husband was nagging her about her miscarriage and he accused her of killing their unborn baby.
“I thought the conflict was resolved because when we went to bed on Tuesday, it seemed like they were OK. We were shocked to find her dead and he had kept the dead body for six hours without informing anyone because he claims that he killed her at around 9 am but he only revealed the death to us at around 3pm.”
Police spokesperson Lebona Mohloboli confirmed the arrest of a 21-year-old man for allegedly strangling his 19-year-old wife.
“It was reported the suspect accused his wife of cheating. It is shocking that this has happened between a newly-married couple and this shows that parents are not playing their part to inform their children about the challenges they would meet in married life,” Mohloboli said.