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'I killed my abusive husband in self-defence'

by Staff reporter
08 Apr 2022 at 09:41hrs | Views
A woman from Bulawayo who was jailed 18 years for stabbing to death her husband, keeping the body for two days before dousing it with paraffin and burning it to conceal evidence in 2016 still insists that she acted in self-defence.

The 29-year-old Lakela Sweswe, who has been incarcerated at Mlondolozi Mental Institute since 2018, said the battered woman syndrome made her murder her husband.

In an interview with B-Metro, Sweswe said she had been a victim of domestic violence for more than seven years.

"When I got married to my husband, he was addicted to alcohol and drugs. When we moved in together, he started abusing me accusing me of having extra-marital affairs.

"With time I realised that we would start fighting whenever he was drunk so I reported the matter to my family members and they urged me to be patient with him," said Sweswe.

The inmate said as she tried to be patient it became more of a habit for her husband to always bash her every time he got drunk such that their children became uncomfortable each time he got home.

"My husband used to drink almost daily and when he got home, he would assault me in the presence of our children such that they later felt uncomfortable each time he came home.

"This really stressed me a lot as I realised that from this marriage one of us was going to die leaving our children suffering but I had no choice but to stay and take care of my children," she said.

The convict said on the day in question, her husband came home around 7pm and he declared that he wanted to murder her as she was a disrespectful wife who was dating men in their neighbourhood.

"At first, I thought it was a joke when he told me those words but when he started assaulting me that's when I realised that my life was actually in danger. I was assaulted for more than 30 minutes and after that, he went outside to look for an iron bar to finish me off.

"That's when I decided to take a table knife in the kitchen and hide it next to me. When he came back with the intention of attacking me, I managed to overpower him as he was drunk and, in the process, I stabbed him in the lower abdomen.

"Soon after stabbing him, I sat next to him up to the time when he passed on around midnight and that made me panic. I then thought of coming up with a plan that could save me from going to prison for a very long time.

"I dragged the body to an old building that was near our room that we were renting and I tried to burn it as a way of trying to destroy evidence but that did not work out," said Sweswe.

The smell of the decomposing body gave her away - her neighbours were drawn by the smell and they discovered the body.

"The issue was reported to the police who later picked me up for investigations and I admitted that I had murdered him. The matter was investigated and I was placed on remand for two years.

"I was later sentenced to 18 years in prison on charges of gruesome murder, but the truth is if I had not defended myself, I would have been the victim," she said.

Sweswe said life in prison was not easy at first but with time she later managed to adjust after having been given enough counselling by the rehabilitation officers.

"I have got two children and as we speak, I don't even know how they are doing outside there but with the assistance of the rehabilitation officers I managed to adjust to this new life that I am now living.

"I just told myself that my kids will understand the reason that later saw me committing such a crime. I never thought this patience that I gave to my husband would make me find myself in such a place like a prison," she said.

Since her conviction, Sweswe said she had to be trained in a number of programmes while in prison with the aim of promoting a successful re-integration upon completing her jail term.

"Today I was graduating in a short course of detergent making and I know this skill is going to help me start a project of my own, that is, when I complete my jail term because I don't foresee a situation where I would get married again.

"To the family that I wronged I would like to say I am very sorry about what happened but the truth is I was a victim of abuse for more than five years and my life was at risk," she said.

Sweswe also urged women in abusive marriages to move out as anything could happen.

"If I had walked out of that marriage my late husband could be alive and I could be out there living my life to the fullest but the issue of patience that I was urged to apply later brought me here.

"Domestic violence is a cancer that develops over time and it can later cause death to either of the two parties involved," she concluded.

Source - B-Metro