In June 1996, in her Phakalane suburb of Gaborone, Botswana, Ria Wolmarans died. She was shot twice, in her side and chest, with a pistol.
The police assumed it was a robbery gone awry, and for three months, so it might have stayed. Until the woman finally convicted of the murder was ratted out by Judith Bosch, the sister-in-law who loathed her. It was established that the pistol that shot Ria had been smuggled from the South African city of Pietersburg by the dead woman’s friend and neighbour, another South African, Mariette Bosch. After the murder, Mariette gave the weapon to her brother-in-law for safekeeping. Not a smart move, especially when she had admitted to Judith that she was in love with Ria’s husband, Tienie.
Her own husband, Justin, had recently passed away in a road accident in 1995, so, three months after the murder of Ria, she and Tienie were free to get engaged.
Of course the police arrested Tienie on suspicion of murdering his wife. Obviously. But he was a contractor, working some 900km away, so he was released and not charged.
I had done some survey for Tienie on one of his Maun contracts, so knew him slightly. Some payment delays had not warmed me to him. After the murder of Tienie’s wife, Mariette lived with him in Maun for awhile and I briefly met her there.
Despite the fact that Mariette’s three children swore that their mom was at home all evening at the time of the murder, the maid stated otherwise. Judith took the gun to the police, who matched the fatal bullets to the weapon, and which basically cooked Mariette’s goose. Mariette was arrested, but after ten months in custody, she was granted bail, during which time, in 1998, she and Tienie got married. Her trial started soon thereafter.
Botswana High Court’s Justice Isaac Aboagye found Mariette guilty of murder on 13th December 1999. In February 2000, he sentenced her to death.
Of course she appealed. It was finally heard by the Botswana Appeal Court, mid-January 2001. The sentence was upheld. The final decision for clemency by the Botswana President, Festus Mogae, did not materialise. Despite further attempts at appeal, as well as efforts by Pro-Life folk all over, Mariette, then aged 50, was hanged 31st March 2001.
No family, all hoping for some kind of miracle, were present. They were not informed of the coming finality.
I think she never believed she would pay that final penalty because Mariette persistently denied killing Ria. I’m inclined to believe her, although she surely knew who had pulled the trigger. It was said that she never showed remorse and accused a third party of the deed. I wonder if, in her final moments when she realised that there was now no reprieve at all, she revealed to anyone who actually had done the deed?
After the hanging, I employed a labourer in Maun who told me that he had worked for Tienie at the time of the murder. That he had been working with him on a contract near Gweta, which is a good two hundred km closer to Gaborone than is Maun. The man stated that Tienie had given him a lift to Palapye, on the road to Gaborone, on the afternoon before the murder, and that Tienie had left site early, returning a bit late for work the following day…
Mariette should not have faced the hangman alone.