Woman avoids jail in rugby murder plot

A mother accused of trying to have a young South African rugby star murdered over a love triangle which also involved her daughter was free Tuesday after avoiding a jail sentence, according to The Daily Telegraph.

Manda Reyneke, 48, was handed a suspended three-year jail term and community service by a Pretoria court after pleading guilty to "enticement to commit assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm" in an extraordinary case which included hitmen and doctored death photos.

She began an affair with rugby player Deon Helberg while he was dating her model daughter, Jalien, in 2007.

Helberg tried to end their fling in 2009 and Reyneke was so angry she arranged for two Nigerian men to kill him last year, offering them about $16,000 plus a house each.

After they initially failed to carry out the request, she threatened to hire someone else.

The men then went to a special operations police unit called the Hawks, which devised a strategy to entrap Reyneke. The unit alerted Helberg to the threat on his life, persuaded him to pose for "death photos" and made him up with fake blood.

The image was sent to Reyneke’s phone, and she arranged to meet the men the following day at a shopping center in Pretoria. As she handed over a sum of money, the waiting Hawks officers nabbed her.

During an intriguing court case, it emerged that the love triangle had started when Reyneke took Helberg, now 22, to Pretoria to sign his first rugby contract and they stayed together at a guest house.

Jalien, 20, discovered the tryst between her mother and boyfriend after finding a love letter he had penned for the older woman.

Following a period of estrangement, Jalien patched up the relationship with her mother and turned on Helberg, accusing him of destroying their family.

Reyneke’s husband left her last year following the discovery of the affair.

During the court case, Reyneke, dubbed a "cougar" by the South African press, said she had never intended for the hitmen to kill Helberg but to injure him in a way that would end his rugby playing days.