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Mariette BOSCH





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Love-triangle
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: June 26, 1996
Date of arrest: October 7, 1996
Date of birth: 1950
Victim profile: Maria 'Ria' Wolmarans (her best friend)
Method of murder: Shooting (9mm Browning pistol)
Location: Botswana
Status: Executed by hanging at Gaborone's Central Maximum Prison on March 31, 2001

Murderess Mariette Bosch executed in Botswana

By Vivian Warby -

April 2, 2001

South African Mariette Bosch is dead.

Despite months of petitioning by Bosch's husband, Tienie Wolmarans, and sympathisers, clemency was denied by the Botswana government.

Wolmarans was also apparantly denied access to Bosch before she was hanged in the early hours of Saturday morning. She is the first South African to be executed in Botswana.

Details of her execution remained sketchy on Monday.

At the weekend, Botswana's President Festus Mogae said in London that he would not consider granting Bosch clemency.

This morning, Joe Orebotse, speaking on behalf of Botswana's prisons commissioner, confirmed Bosch had been hanged. He said no relatives were allowed at the hanging. Earlier he had told The Star that a hangman, prison officials, medical officer and a religious minister would be present at the execution.

When The Star contacted the family of Wolmarans and Bosch this morning they declined to speak to the press and said they should rather contact her legal representative in the UK, who could not be reached.

Wolmarans himself could also not be reached, despite numerous calls to his home telephone in Botswana.

One of the bitter ironies was that South Africa, under

President Thabo Mbeki's office, was going to launch a petition today to get her death sentence overturned. Neither Wolmarans nor Bosch herself expected clemency.

The 50-year-old South African woman had hoped her death sentence would be overturned. But a few months ago an appeal court in Botswana upheld the death sentence imposed on Bosch for killing Ria Wolmarans, Tienie's first wife.

Since the start of her trial in 1996 Wolmarans, both sets of children and Bosch herself have proclaimed her innocence.

Bosch spent her last days and nights alone in her death row single cell in Botswana, Gaborone's Central Prison, under the menacing shadow of death.

There death row inmates do not work or do chores.

They tend to themselves and are left to occupy themselves throughout the day and night.

Not even a request for a last meal of their most favoured foods is allowed in Botswana. No sedative is given to the person before he or she is hanged.

Wolmarans could not be reached this morning and it is not known about his and Bosch's last meeting before she was executed, although Orebotse said that she had not been allowed any visits from relatives before her death.

He also said the name of the hangman could not be released and he could also not give out the location of the execution.

His son-in-law said that the family was not speaking to the press and that all queries should be forwarded to London to Bosch's advocate.

The court had earlier found that Bosch had killed Ria Wolmarans. The mother of three was shot twice, once in the side and once in the chest in 1996.

The court found that Bosch had scaled a 2m wall, entered Wolmarans' house and confronted Ria in the passageway where she shot and killed her. Three months later she became engaged to Wolmarans.

As recently as a month ago Wolmarans launched his own investigation to prove Bosch's innocence.

Her death sentence caused an outcry from international and South African human rights groups who called for Bosch to be spared the gallows.


Love-triangle murderer hanged

BBC News

April 2, 2001

A South African woman found guilty of a love-triangle murder in Botswana has been executed.

Mariette Bosch was hanged on Saturday two months after her appeal against the death sentence failed.

She spent a year on death row maintaining her innocence after a court found her guilty of murdering her best friend Ria Wolmerans, whose husband she later married.

A panel of Commonwealth judges heard her appeal but decided she did not have a case.

Bosch's last hope was for President Festus Mogae to grant clemency but he made it clear that he was not going to.

State radio announced on Monday that Bosch had been executed at Gaborone's Central Maximum Prison on Saturday morning.

Commissioner of prisons Joseph Orebotse said no family members had been present at the hanging, as is customary in Botswana.

Not convincing

In the long-running trial Bosch was revealed as a manipulative murderess, who planned the death of her best friend so that she could go on to marry the woman's husband.

The appeal judges said that Bosch had concocted an incredible and implausible story in an attempt to convince them of her innocence.

Bosch is the first white person and the fourth woman to be hanged in Botswana since independence.

The case attracted international attention and was dubbed "Botswana's white mischief" after the famous book about love betrayal in colonial Kenya.

During the appeal a leading British barrister, who has a high reputation for getting death sentences overturned, argued that Bosch was the victim of a miscarriage of justice.


Love, loot, lust and loathing

It was, she thought, the perfect crime of passion. Instead Mariette Bosch is facing a death sentence in Botswana - and if she loses her appeal next week, she will hang. Chris McGreal reports

January 23, 2001

It might well have been the perfect crime of passion. Certainly the setting was right; a tight-lipped, highly privileged enclave of white South Africans living by its own rules on the fringes of an African city. When the police discovered Maria Wolmarans - Ria to her friends - shot dead in the hallway of her home in Botswana nearly four years ago, they had not the faintest idea who committed the murder. For months, detectives in the capital Gaborone believed she was the victim of a botched burglary.

The white community was silent. Where fingers were pointed at all, they were at the maid. But one of their number, Mariette Bosch, had unwittingly laid the ground for a date with the gallows even before she murdered her best friend so she could marry the woman's husband. And while there were not many in the white community who would have turned her in to the police, Bosch had not counted on the antagonism of a close female relative.

Next week, the appeal court will rule whether the 50-year-old mother of three is to become the first woman to hang in Botswana in three decades, for a killing prosecutors characterised as embracing the four Ls of murder - love, loot, lust and loathing.

Bosch and her first husband moved to Botswana nine years ago, attracted by its booming, diamond-driven economy and low crime rate. They settled in Phakalane, an area of the capital so popular with well-off white South Africans that it's known as "Little Sandton" after a plush Johannesburg suburb.

Some of the women work but most live the life of the old South Africa, attended by maids and "garden boys". Their days are filled with bridge clubs and casinos, and weekends with their husbands at game lodges and golf courses. The second car in the garage is as often as not a BMW, but four-wheel drives are increasingly popular for exploring Botswana's stunning landscape.

Bosch slotted in easily. She grew up the daughter of a wealthy liquor store owner and knew all about spending money in the sprawling shopping malls that are a second home to so many white South African women. Before long she was part of Botswana's high society and a regular attendant at the Dutch Reformed Church in Gaborone. Other members of the congregation would later pay her bail.

The Boschs became friends with Maria and Tienie Wolmarans. The women took classes together in decorating porcelain dolls and made "the most decadent cakes". But within months of Mariette Bosch's husband being killed in a car crash in 1995, she had begun an affair with Tienie. The pair drove to a Johannesburg motel and had what was described in court as "good sexual intercourse".

The Wolmarans' marriage was already under strain. They had separated in 1993 and got back together the following year, but the problems were not resolved.

Tienie promised to divorce his wife, but Bosch grew impatient. In June 1996, she drove to Pietersburg in South Africa and borrowed a pistol from a friend. The next day, she smuggled the gun across the border into Botswana. That night, she drove two blocks to the Wolmarans' house, climbed a six-foot wall and walked in. She met her victim in the hall and fired twice, hitting Maria Wolmarans in the stomach and ribs. There were no witnesses.

For three months, the Gaborone police did not identify a single suspect. They put the killing down to a failed burglary and forgot about it. Bosch must have thought she had committed the perfect crime - but she had made a series of crucial errors and failed to take into account the loathing of a close relative.

Before the killing, Bosch had confessed her love for Tienie Wolmarans to her sister-in-law, Judith Bosch - a woman who made no secret of her deep dislike of Mariette. Why Bosch did that remains a mystery, but it was a decision that was to cost her dear.

After the killing, and without much explanation, Bosch gave the gun to Judith's husband to look after. Three months later, she ordered a wedding dress from a designer in Pretoria. When Judith found out about the weapon and the dress, and recalled her sister-in-law's earlier revelation, she drew her own conclusion and took the gun to the police.

Pulled in for questioning, Tienie Wolmarans blurted out to detectives: "I pray the gun and cartridges don't match." They did. Undeterred by the fact that Bosch was charged with the murder of his first wife, he married her.

In Lobatse prison, Bosch refused to eat the staple diet of tripe. She grew thin and drawn, but still managed to arrive in court each day with her blue eyeshadow carefully applied.

The trial was at times bizarre. One of the main defence witnesses was a psychologist, Dr Louise Olivier, who turned up looking like Barbara Cartland, in pink suit and big hair, and was revealed to be the sex doctor for a popular magazine. "Let's suppose you were my wife - ha, ha, ha - and I knew you were going around with some guy," the judge asked her. "Then suppose I go to Pretoria to get a gun, come back and shoot you - wouldn't you call that premeditation?"

Olivier had to confess she would. Her testimony ended with a loud bang from the witness box and a grovelling apology. The judge provoked much laughter when he replied: "Don't be sorry. It's only the bible you dropped!"

Bosch's family were horrified at the circus atmosphere. Her 14-year-old daughter, Sune, wept in court.

Yet even after her conviction, Bosch imagined she would walk free. "I believe that God will deliver me from this nightmare," she said. "I have been framed. People have turned against me, but God will not."

As she awaited sentence, her neighbour, Stafanje Hugo, said: "Poor thing. She's convinced they'll let her go. Tienie asked me to tell her everything would be OK, like she thinks. But I couldn't do that to my friend."

The only visible reaction from Bosch as she was sentenced to hang was her fingernails digging into her arm. Her daughter Charmaine, 25, crouched on the floor and shook.

There are those who believe Bosch should not face the hangman alone. In handing down his guilty verdict, the judge also implicated Wolmarans. "I find that the accused and Tienie were seriously in love before the death of the deceased and that they wanted the deceased out of Tienie's way for them to get married," he said.

The police investigated the possibility that Tienie Wolmarans had a hand in his wife's murder but he has never been charged. "The police already arrested me on that suspicion, but I was released after one night because they had no evidence," he said.

Last week, Bosch appealed. She was represented by a British barrister, Desmond da Silva, who has so far won reprieves from the executioner for 35 people. He worked to persuade judges from Britain and Africa - who sit as Botswana's appeal court under its post-colonial judicial system - that the state had wrongly failed to reveal to the defence that it had granted immunity from prosecution to a leading suspect in the murder in return for agreeing to testify against Bosch.

If the conviction stands, the death penalty is mandatory for murder in Botswana unless there are extenuating circumstances. The judge who sentenced Bosch a year ago, Isaac Aboagye, said he could find none. "The crime was carefully planned with the motive of enabling you to take over the husband of the deceased," he said. "I have not been able to find one moral extenuating circumstance. You are not very young, you were not intoxicated and you were not provoked."

If her appeal is refused next week, Bosch's only hope of avoiding the gallows is clemency. Of the 14 people sentenced to death in Botswana over the past decade, six have been hanged and six others have had their sentences commuted. The remaining two are Bosch and another South African, a man convicted of killing a policeman.

But the Botswana government might just want to make the point that citizens of its large neighbour to the south - white and black - cannot turn the quiet suburbs of Gaborone into the Johannesburg they moved to escape.


Mariette Bosch - The Love Triangle Murder

Mariette Sonjaleen Bosch was the first white woman to be hanged in the southern African state of Botswana and the only white woman to be hanged in Africa for many years. She is the fourth woman to be executed in Botswana since independence from Britain in 1966 and went to the gallows on the 31st of March 2001.

Unlike most of the women in these pages she was middle class and wealthy. Mariette was a tall, blonde, 50 year old mother of three who had come to Botswana from Pietersburg in South Africa and was a regular member of the Dutch Reformed Church.

She and her first husband Justin, moved to Botswana in 1992, attracted by its booming economy and low crime rate. They bought a house in Phakalane, a wealthy area of the capital, Gaborone, which was popular with well off South Africans. Here they could afford to have a maid and a garden boy. Mariette's days were filled with shopping, playing bridge and visiting casinos, with weekends with her husband at game lodges and golf courses. She and Justin met and became friends with Maria (normally known as Ria) and Tienie Wolmarans, who lived nearby.

Justin was tragically killed in a car crash in 1995 and Ria Wolmarans comforted and helped Mariette through this difficult period. They used to bake cakes together, share the school run and even go on holiday together. At the time, however, Ria and Tienie's marriage was going through a very difficult time and it is alleged that he and Mariette had begun a passionate affair five months after Justin's death. Tienie tried to reconcile the situation with Ria and got her a job as financial director of a concrete company whose managing director was Mr. Hennie Coetzee.

The murder.

Ria Wolmarans was home alone on the night of June 26th 1996 as Tienie was working away at the time. She almost certainly knew the person that killed her and probably let them in voluntarily as there was no sign of forced entry. She had been making a cup of tea when she was shot and the tea tray and its contents were found beside her body. Two 9mm bullets had been fired at her. She was found by her daughter, Maryna, later that evening. It looked like a burglary that had gone tragically wrong.

Police initially had no clues to the killing, and made no arrests for three months.

Tienie and Mariette rented a house a month after Ria's death and according to them, their relationship only became serious about two months later. In September 1996, 3 months after the murder, they had secretly got engaged and told the families that they were going to South Africa to shop for wedding outfits.

Arrest and trial.

In early June 1996, Mariette had borrowed a 9mm Browning pistol from a friend in South Africa who had been looking after her late husband's firearm collection, on the basis that she wanted to do some target shooting. Bringing a firearm into Botswana was a criminal offence in itself.

Mariette made two mistakes that were to provide crucial evidence against her. She had told Judith Bosch, her sister-in-law who still lived in South Africa, that she was in love with Tienie and that they wanted to marry. She also gave the gun to Judith's husband after the murder.

Judith Bosch remembered a phone call she received from a friend on the morning after the murder, informing her of Ria's death. She asked the friend about the murder weapon and was told that it was a 9mm automatic pistol. The friend who was looking after the family's firearm collection had earlier told Judith that Mariette had wanted to borrow one of the guns. When Judith found out about the killing and the weapon used she persuaded Mariette to return the weapon to her. Judith Bosch then handed the gun over to the police. Forensic tests showed that the gun they recovered was the murder weapon and they arrested Mariette and Tienie on October 7th 1996. Tienie had a solid alibi for the night of the murder as he could prove that he had been working away.

For three months after her arrest, Mariette refused to talk to the police about the gun and could not even give Tienie a cohesive reason for bringing the gun into Botswana. Eventually she made the statement naming Hennie Coetzee as the person she had brought the gun in for.

Mariette was granted bail after ten months in custody and came to trial 18 months after the murder. She and Tienie got married in 1998 while Mariette was on bail.

Her trial opened in December 1999 at Botswana's Lobatse High Court before Justice Isaac Aboagye. As is normal in Africa there is no jury and the judge has to find the verdict.

According to the prosecution it was Mariette who had climbed over the wall into the Wolmarans's garden, entered the house and shot Maria. Mariette claimed to be over weight at the time of the killing and therefore could not have scaled the garden wall. This was rejected by the court on the basis that she could have had a set of keys.

Much of the more damning evidence against her came from her sister-in-law, Judith regarding the gun and the affair.

Mariette admitted borrowing the gun from a friend, but claims she did so after being hypnotised by Hennie Coetzee, Maria's former boss. She accused him of being the killer which he denied. It was suggested that Hennie had put some sort of drug into some wine that he and Mariette were drinking and that he then told her to get the gun and bring it to him but not to mention it to anyone. Hennie's alleged motive was that Ria had uncovered financial irregularities in his company and that these would be revealed at a forthcoming audit.

For the defence it was pointed out that there was no direct forensic evidence linking Mariette to the murder - there were no finger prints on the gun nor in Ria's home. It was also suggested by their expert witness, psychiatrist Dr Louise Olivier that Mariette did not have a killer's profile and could not lie. This was dismissed by Justice Aboagye as of no consequence to the defence.

Mariette's alibi was that she had been at home all evening and this was verified by her daughters but rebutted by her maid who said that Mariette had gone out around 8.00 p.m.

There was, thus, a strong circumstantial case against Mariette, with no dispute about the fact that she brought the murder weapon into the country, a strong probability that she and Tienie were having an affair before Ria was killed, a disputed alibi for the night of the crime and a very clear motive. On the other hand her defence was, to put it mildly, rather fanciful. Not surprisingly therefore on the 21st of February 2000 the judge found her guilty and rejected any claim that she had acted under the influence of another (which would have allowed him to pass the alternative sentence of life in prison).

He said it would be difficult to find a crime more devoid of anything that could reduce blameworthiness of the accused person.

"I have searched the trial records to find anything, however minute, to reduce your blameworthiness," he told her. "I have not been able to find anything. The crime was carefully planned with the motive of enabling you to take over the husband of the deceased. It was committed with no mercy for the innocent victim. You desired to eliminate the deceased in order to be able to marry her husband. I have no doubt the crime was premeditated." It took 30-minutes for Justice Isaac Aboagye to deliver his full judgement and at the end asked Mariette if she had anything to say before she was sentenced.

She replied: "I am not guilty, you are My Lord, sentencing a woman for something she did not do." He then adjourned the court for five minutes before returning to pass sentence on her. The court rose and donning the black cap, he told her: "You will be returned to prison and there be hanged by the neck until you are dead. Your body will be buried in such a place as the State President may determine. May the Lord have mercy on your soul."

Her older daughter Charmaine, 20, was stunned by the verdict and sentence and had to be comforted by relatives while her younger daughter, 14 year old Soné, tried to chase after her mother as she was led from the court under guard, but was not allowed contact.

Mariette was taken back to Gaborone Central Prison and placed in solitary confinement on death row to await her appeal.

Although Mariette had been given the death sentence it was not felt by Tienie and her family that it would ever be carried out as they expected to win on appeal. Tienie maintained the allegations against Hennie Coetzee although no evidence was found of the supposed financial irregularities at the subsequent audit.


In a provision put in place when Botswana became independent in from Britain 1966, gave condemned prisoners the right of appeal to the Botswana Appeals Court which comprises judges from England, Scotland, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Nigeria. The members of the Appeal Court, which sits twice a year in January and July of each year, included Judge President Timothy Aguda from Nigeria, Sir John Blofeld from England and Lord Weir from Scotland.

Accompanied by 15 members of the Botswana prison guard and police force, Mariette, who had turned 50 the week before, entered the packed court promptly at 9.30am. on the morning of the 18th of January. She blew a discreet kiss towards Tienie Wolmarans and sat down to listen to the proceedings. The year Mariette had spent on death row had taken a considerable toll on her, she looked gaunt and had aged considerably. She was wearing a lilac blouse which appeared too big for her, a little make up and had hair in a ponytail.

The case against Mariette was presented by Botswana's assistant Attorney General, Lizo Ngcongo. He told the court "We are talking about a woman who decided in advance that the deceased was an obstacle to her amorous relationship with Tienie Wolmarans and would have to be got rid of."

Ngcongo said Mariette and her daughter Charmaine had contradicted themselves in testimony during her trial and this proved that the High Court had been right in finding her guilty. "This (the contradictions) affected the plausibility of the entire defence."

He also said that Mariette had lied about her alibi on the night of Wolmarans' murder.

Ngcongo said she claimed to have been at home, but that this had been denied by her maid. Furthermore, he said, Mariette had told the court that she had left the murder weapon at a police post on the South African side of the border and then later said she had given the weapon to state witness Hennie Coetzee. Neither of which statements were true.

For her defence top London barrister, Desmond da Silva argued that the trial was flawed because Hennie Coetzee was given immunity for testifying against Mariette without the court or defence being informed.

"The witness had demanded and got an immunity which did not even specify he had to tell the truth as far as I can see," he said. "It is astonishing."

Evidence that Mariette had a dependant and vulnerable personality and was easily suggestible was presented at the appeal. The crucial point was who, if anybody, influenced Mariette to commit the crime. Was it Hennie Coetzee or Tienie or someone else? We shall never know the answer to this or indeed to who actually fired the fatal shots.

On the 29th of January the Appeal Court gave its judgement which lasted for nearly two hours. Acting Judge President Timothy Aguda told the court that "She is a wicked and despicable woman. The murder had been planned over a long period, no doubt as a result of jealousy and infatuation. It involved travelling to South Africa where she collected a gun and she illegally brought it into the country."

The appeal was thus denied. Mariette was visibly shocked when the three Appeal Court judges delivered their ruling. Tienie Wolmarans, was too upset to speak and admitted that there was little hope of a reprieve.

After the appeal was dismissed her lawyer, Edward Fashole Luke II, began preparing an appeal for clemency for Mariette. Where the death sentence is upheld on appeal, the case is considered by the Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy, which advises the president on the exercise of his prerogative. The president of Botswana, Festus Mogae, said, while on a visit to London on March 29th, that he would not consider granting Mariette clemency however. It was therefore up to Botswana's commissioner of prisons, Joseph Orebotse to arrange for the sentence to be carried out. It was to be the first hanging there since that of five men in August 1995


Mariette spent her days on death row wearing a brown prison dress, in a single cell with just a mattress and a bucket. The standard prison food included tripe and morogo. She is reported to have had nightmares about standing on the gallows while strangers around her whispered in a language she could not understand.

On Friday 30th March Mariette's death warrant was read to her and she was informed that her execution would take place in the early hours of Saturday. She was not permitted any visitors or to say good bye to her family nor was she allowed a special last meal. She was apparently counselled, wrote letters to Tienie and her children and prayed. Sedatives are not offered to condemned prisoners, as was also the case in Britain.

A minister of the church, the prison doctor and prison officials witnessed the hanging which was carried out British style at 6.00 a.m. that morning. Executions in Botswana are carried out in complete secrecy (just as they were in Britain) and no details whatsoever are released and no advance warning of an execution is normally given. After death her body was buried in the prison cemetery.

Tienie Wolmarans had made an appointment three weeks previously to visit Mariette on the Friday. This appointment had been confirmed by the prison officials but when he phoned them on the Friday morning he was told by a senior official that they were busy with an inspection and that all visitors for the day had been postponed. Instead he was told to come back on the following Monday. This he and her daughters did and were met by prison officials, including the assistant district commissioner, who told them that Mariette had been hanged on Saturday. He, and their daughters Soné and Charmaine broke down completely at this news. Fifteen minutes later prison guards gave them Mariette's personal belongings and told them to leave.

On the Monday when the execution was announced, Botswana's permanent secretary at the ministry of foreign affairs, Ernest Mpofu, said that the law did not provide for a condemned person to be allowed a last visit by his or her family before the execution.

"Partly because of the controversy this particular case was generating, he (the commissioner) used his judgement. It would not be in their interest to bring in the family."

He also told reporters that "there were allegations that the South African government was going to send a formal note asking for clemency, but we did not receive anything". "There was nothing in writing. If he phoned the president, I'm not aware of it." Neither South Africa nor any foreign government had officially protested against the execution. Once the president had refused clemency, it was up to the commissioner of prisons to make the necessary arrangements for the hanging, without consulting further."

When Tienie was refused access to Mariette on the Friday he had contacted Anne Schofield, his British lawyer, who was still working on the documents needed to make an application to Botswana's clemency commission for a stay of execution. The documents were nearly completed, and were expected to be ready to fax through to Wolmarans's lawyers in Gaborone on Monday morning. Whether they would have considered them is however debatable as they had already reached their decision.

After the execution Tienie Wolmarans was interviewed by the South African media and commented: "The manner in which Mariette was executed was totally and completely indecent. I cannot fathom the reason for it. We had filed a petition for clemency. It was a preliminary petition in which we made clear to President Mogae that we needed time to prepare a full petition. We also told him that we were arranging for a psychiatrist to evaluate Mariette's state of mind."

"My lawyers did not even have time to write the report before Mariette was executed," he said. "We received a letter - myself, Soné, Charmaine and Anton. It was addressed to us from Mariette. Inside was a short note to each of us. She had not even been allowed to write it herself. She had been told to dictate it. She said that they (the prison authorities) did not want her to see us on Friday."

"I believe that the story they told us about an inspection was a lie. They will probably make up anything now. I found out that the pastor who was visiting her every week was not allowed to see her on Friday. Mariette had nobody to comfort her, nobody to try and help her, to be with her in her final hours. She was denied the common decency of being allowed to talk to a priest. I cannot even begin to imagine what she must have gone through."


The execution only two months after Mariette's appeal, is an all-time record for Botswana, where the time between sentence and execution is normally from nine months to several years. It is generally thought to have been carried out so quickly because of the growing international controversy over the case and increasing pressure from various human rights groups. Prior notice of executions is not given to the media.

Botswana has maintained a 1950's version of English law since its independence in 1973 and the death sentence is mandatory upon conviction for murder. Its legal system does not recognise degrees of murder.

There is an automatic right of appeal to a panel of Commonwealth judges who are drawn from various countries (including Scotland in this case). Once the appeal has been turned down the final decision for clemency rests solely with the president, Festus Mogae.

Botswana has hanged 30 men and 4 women over the 28 years. Clemency is rarely recommended by the Appeal Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy which advises the President. The death penalty is strongly supported by the Botswanan population who enjoy a very low murder rate, especially when compared to neighbouring South Africa which has an appalling one.

There are several aspects to Mariette Bosch's case that need to be examined against this background.

While one may feel that the death sentence, in her case, was too severe, the local population in this democratic and strongly religious country wholeheartedly supported it.

She appears to have had "due process" - a fair trial and a proper appeal and there are no allegations that she was in anyway maltreated or forced to confess to something she hadn't done.

One of the allegations by the her lawyers and the human rights groups is that she was executed with indecent haste and there would appear to some truth in this, in as much as the Botswanan authorities clearly were expecting further international pressure and protests if they had announced the execution date in advance.

While one would agree that to not allow her to say goodbye to her husband and family was cruel in one sense, it did save them from having to live through the hours and minutes leading up to her execution and from the difficult and emotional farewells both of which would surely have been an enormous emotional strain. It is hard to see any advantage to Mariette in delaying the execution any further. Her appeal was heard and turned down in January and the president ruled against clemency on the Thursday so her death warrant was read to her on the Friday and the execution was carried out on the Saturday morning. Surely this is less cruel than making her wait for months or years and then telling her the execution date 3 months in advance, as happened to Karla Faye Tucker in Texas. A person in this position would think of little else once the date had been set. As it was, Mariette said that she had nightmares about her execution. It is also far less cruel than making her go through the setting of an execution date and then granting a stay hours before it is due and then making her go through the whole process again and again before finally executing her 10 years later as happens in America. I doubt that conditions on death row in Gaborone Central prison are of the sort that most of us would want to spend too much time in.

Hanging in Botswana follows the British method so it is probable that she was at least given a quick death.

Sadly Mariette had no real defence other than some rather fanciful theories and against the strong, albeit, circumstantial evidence it was not surprising that on the balance of probabilities she was found guilty. It is notable, however, that Ria's family all thought she was innocent.

Her case received huge publicity in the South African media and also in the press in other English speaking countries, as capital cases involving white middle class women are nowadays a rarity.

Should she have been reprieved? It is difficult to see any real reason why the president should have reprieved her, or politically, could have done so. How can it be right to reprieve this prisoner because she is white while executing others who are black. (Botswana has hanged three black women.) How would their relatives feel if Mariette had been reprieved purely because she was white? Inverted racism may also have played a part in the decision to execute Mariette because she was a wealthy white living in a black country.

Whether or not Mariette deserved death for this murder is a matter of personal opinion - but let us not forget Ria Wolmerans, did she deserve to be deceived and abandoned by her husband and to die by shooting because she was a bar to Mariette's and Tienie's relationship? She too had human rights.


Mariette Bosch


Mariette Bosch


Mariette Bosch


Mariette Bosch



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