The family of a Mpumalanga woman who has been sentenced to life in prison for poisoning her children said they were devastated.

The High Court in Middelburg sentenced 25-year-old Zinhle Maditla to four life terms on Friday.

She fed her children, aged between 11 months and 8-years-old, rat poison in December last year after discovering her lover with another woman.

While handing down the sentence earlier on Friday, Judge Sheila Mphahlele said she could not find any reason to deviate from the prescribed minimum sentence.

But Maditla’s family said the sentence was too harsh.

Family spokesperson Kevin Balance said: “It’s a hard pill to swallow. I can’t even talk properly but it was a difficult pill to swallow. We have to support her now.”

Balance said they had forgiven Maditla: “Wherever she goes, there is still light at the end of the tunnel and we support her no matter what.”

Maditla has started serving her sentence.