Just over five years since strangling his wife to death, disgraced former Radisele councillor, Leatile Rebabedi has been sentenced to 20 years in jail.
The retired soldier was found guilty of murdering his spouse, Gabaresepe Rebabedi, squeezing the life out of the mother of his two children with an electric cable before attempting to pass her death off as suicide.
Francistown High Court heard how the events of 19 February 2014 marked the bloody climax to an unhappy marriage.
It was a union set to come to an end, with Gabaresepe serving her husband of ten years with divorce papers.
However, Leatile would not let it get that far.
Labelling his actions as ‘a fit of rage’, the 41-year-old told Judge Phadi Solomon he loved his wife too much to let her go.
“I could not bear to live without her. I loved her too much,” he said simply.
The ex-BDF man claimed Gabaresepe, who worked as a nurse, regularly cheated on him, describing his marriage as littered with promiscuity.
“I married my wife at an early age of 27 years, three months after I met her in 2003. On several occasions I caught my wife red handed with love text messages from other men. She used to receive calls late in the night. At one time I found her in a compromising position with another man in our matrimonial bedroom,” narrated the convicted killer, adding he reconciled with his wife after the man compensated him P8, 000.
However, the reconciliation did not last long.
Despite several warnings from family elders, Gabaresepe allegedly continued her adulterous behavior.
Detailing another of his wife’s alleged affairs, Leatile mentioned a time when he visited Gabaresepe at her work station in Tlhareseleele.
The couple were snuggled up in bed when their slumber was disturbed by a late night knock at the door.
“I thought it was a patient who needed help, but when I opened the door I found a man standing outside. He said he was my wife’s visitor. I later learnt he was my wife’s lover who worked in Jwaneng.”
Citing a further humiliating example, Leatile says his wife once fought with the maid over a boyfriend.
In a desperate bid to save the troubled relationship, Rebabedi sought the transfer of his wife to Radisele clinic. The move happened but the marriage was beyond redemption.
“She abandoned me and the children and went back to her parents home. She told me it was over and wanted out. She only came back to Radisele after the Village Development Committee gave her a house. She stayed alone, while I remained with the children and maid.”
Leatile’s attorney Nkululeko Fuzwayo had pleaded for a short custodial sentence of eight years, as imposed by another court in a similar case.
However, in handing down his judgment – a sentence that based barely a flicker of emotion from Leatile – Judge Solomon said, “The circumstances in this case warrant a higher sentence in recognition of the fact that the accused played God and took away a life. In doing so, he also dumped the future of his children.
“The children were left in the care of the accused who chose his feelings over their welfare and mental health,” pointed out the Judge, before sentencing Leatile to two decades in the slammer.
Having already been in prison for 17 months, he will next breathe free air in 2037.