The first woman to be executed in South Africa


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Monday, 28 November 1904

Emily Chinea became the first woman in the Free State and South Africa to be officially executed after being found guilty of murdering her husband.

Research indicates that when women are moved with an overwhelming desire to kill, they seldom resort to physical violence themselves. Instead, they despatch their victims with great deliberation, favouring poison or getting others to perform the coup de grace. The Star of 21 June 1921 tells of a woman, Emily Chinea, and her paramour, Lucas Matong, who in 1903 were charged with the murder of her husband, an elderly white man. The murder was a particularly brutal one in which an axe and stones were employed and the body was thrown into a river. What made it worse was the woman was in bed with her husband, knowing what was going to happen, when he was summarily despatched by her lover. Emily Chinea was charged with Lucas Matong for the murder in 1903 of Emily's husband. Both were found to have taken an active part in the murder and both were executed on 28 November 1904. She was the first documented woman of the Orange Free State to be condemned to death and executed and the first woman offically executed in South Africa.

Related topic: The first women to be executed in the Cape and Transvaal

The first documented woman of the Cape to be hanged for murder was Maria Rabie. She killed her husband in collaboration with her lover in the 1920s.

With her eye on collecting the insurance, Daisy de Melker got rid of her nearest and dearest by popping strychnine, or alternatively, arsenic in their drinks. She went down in history on 31 December 1931 as the first official woman 'poisoner' to be hanged in South Africa.

Dina Dorothea van der Merwe, was so convinced she had been swindled out of her inheritance by her farm manager, Louis Tumpowski, that she hired others to kill the swindler. She became the first documented woman to be condemned to death and executed in the Transvaal.

• Howcroft, P. (undated). South Africa Encyclopaedia: Prehistory to the year 2000, unpublished papers with SA History Online.

Last updated : 20-Jul-2015

This article was produced by South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011

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