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‘My dad was calm after killing my mom’

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Her mother had filed for divorce after she found out that Lee had apparently impregnated another woman.

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“I TOLD my father while he was in the back of the police van that he had killed my mother and he looked me in the eyes and said, ‘so what’.”

These were the words of Monique Lee who testified in the murder trial of her father, Monroe Clayton Lee, in the Northern Cape High Court yesterday.

Lee is accused of murder and three charges of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and his trial kicked off yesterday, just a day after the launch of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign.

Lee is accused of killing his wife, Mitashja “Tessa” Lee, on August 20 2016 after allegedly stabbing her with a knife more than 20 times. The charges of assault relate to the accused allegedly stabbing Monique, her one-year-old baby and a Johannes Vaarland on the same day.

Monique yesterday told the court that although her parents were still married and living together at the time of the alleged incident, her mother had filed for divorce.

She said that her mother had filed for divorce after she found out that Lee had apparently impregnated another woman.

“The woman was still pregnant at the time that the incident occurred. My dad had confessed to impregnating the woman,” Monique said.

She added that the incident was not the first extramarital affair that her father had had.

“This was not the first time my parents had problems. In 2013, my mother also filed for divorce. The reason for that was that my father had a relationship with another woman. That woman however died in a car accident in 2013. My mother did not continue with the divorce as my father promised that he would change. There were no further problems between my parents after that,” Monique said.

She added that her parents were, however, “happy” for the majority of their 10-year marriage.

Monique described the day before the alleged incident as “normal”, although her parents had a quarrel regarding a funeral they were supposed to attend.

“My mother had a funeral she had to attend on the Saturday. She however changed her mind as she did not have the money to attend it. When she told my father she was no longer going, he exploded in anger, accusing her of not wanting to be seen with him and that she was ashamed of him. There was a quarrel between them but it was not physical.”

She went on to say that the next day her father had threatened to take his own life.

“The Saturday morning I woke up and my mother was still asleep. I went to wake her up. My dad was already gone at that time. We did our chores and later on watched television. I fell asleep and my mom woke me saying my dad was home drunk. When I got up, my father had already left. We again continued watching television and moments later my younger sister came running into the house with my father’s cellphone. She was hysterical and crying. She said my father told her that he was going to take his own life and that this was the last day we would see him.”

Monique said her father returned home later but remained seated in his car in front of their home.

“My father did not come into the house. He stood outside the house and just looked at the house for a while before speeding off. There was no one inside the car with him.”

She said that her father later returned home.

“My father’s uncle was driving the car. My mother, myself, my younger sister and my child all went outside when they arrived. My father’s uncle told my mother that he was returning my father as he was busy with funny things. My father’s uncle left my father at home and told my mother he was going to pick up his wife. He left with my younger sister. My father went inside the house, leaving myself and my mother as well as my child outside the house. My mother told me to go give him his food as he had not eaten all day and I went back inside the house.”

She told the court that although her father did consume alcohol on occasions, he looked like he was sober and not under the influence of any substance on that day.

Monique stated that she found her dad standing in the kitchen and that he attempted to stab her with a knife.

“My dad was in the kitchen and walked towards me. I walked backwards when I saw him holding up the knife. He took a stab at me but I tripped and fell over something. He did not manage to stab me and headed outside.”

She told the court that her father then stabbed her mother, who was still holding her one-year-old baby.

“My father moved so fast. By the time I got to the door he was already stabbing my mother. I saw him stabbing my mother in the head while my baby was still in her arms. As my mother was defending herself, all three of them fell to the ground. My father however continued stabbing my mother.

“I ran outside the yard screaming for help. While I was doing that, my father still continued stabbing my mother. I turned around and saw my child lying on the one side and her cheek had an open wound. I picked her up and ran in the opposite direction, still screaming for help.”

Monique said that she then saw two men trying to stop her father.

“I saw Mr Vaarland and another man trying to stop my father as he was still busy stabbing my mother. I went back into the house to press the panic button for someone to help. I also went to fetch some money and the medical aid card. When I got outside, I saw my dad lying on the ground. He appeared very calm as if nothing had happened.”

She added that even when the police arrived on the scene her father remained calm.

“My father calmly got up when the police came. He dusted himself off, put on his shoes and walked to the police van.”

She said they had then waited for an ambulance to arrive.

“There were people around who checked if my mother was still breathing. She was not moving at that time. The ambulance eventually arrived and I went with my child to hospital. My child sustained two stab wounds, one on her left cheek and another across her chest. They had to rush her to theatre to close the wound. She still has scars from the wounds she suffered.”

Monique said she has not been to see her father in prison since the alleged incident.

The case continues today.