Grand­son, 21, claims he merely pushed her

Post - - Front Page - NA­DIA KHAN

UN­HAPPY with the R400 his 84-yearold grand­mother had given him, a young man is al­leged to have stran­gled her be­fore mak­ing off with her tele­vi­sion set stuffed in a suit­case.

Shel­don Naicker, 21, pleaded not guilty at the start of his trial in the Dur­ban High Court on Mon­day.

He said through his lawyer Mag­gie Pil­lay that while his ma­ter­nal grand­mother, Mari­amma Goven­der, had given him R400, he had asked for more money as he wanted to go to Jo­han­nes­burg. But she had re­fused, telling him that he wanted the money for drugs.

Naicker said he had merely “pushed” the el­derly woman onto the sofa be­fore leav­ing with the TV set.

Goven­der died at her Phoenix home in Au­gust last year. The post-mortem ex­am­i­na­tion es­tab­lished the cause of death as “con­sis­tent with man­ual stran­gu­la­tion”, the court heard.

Dressed in a loose-fit­ting green T-shirt and faded blue jeans, Naicker sat emo­tion­less in the dock as prose­cu­tor Kr­ishen Shah read out the in­dict­ment.

He has been charged with mur­der, rob­bery with ag­gra­vat­ing cir­cum­stances and theft.

Naicker pleaded not guilty to the three charges.

Shah said the in­ci­dent had taken place at Goven­der’s Clay­field home on Au­gust 8. Her 42-inch flat-screen tele­vi­sion and a suit­case were stolen and the next day, Naicker had stolen two cell­phones from a car near Botanic Gar­dens, he said.

On Tues­day, state wit­ness Lynelle Emelee Mun­sami, Goven­der’s ten­ant, said that on the morn­ing she died, her land­lady, whom she called “Ma” out of re­spect, had seen her dry­ing clothes out­side and warned her to go back in­doors and keep her doors locked.

This was af­ter Goven­der said she had re­ceived a call from her daugh­ter say­ing that Naicker had “es­caped from the re­hab”, she said.

“I, in turn, told her she must also go in­side and lock the door. A cou­ple hours later I heard Shel­don scream­ing out­side and knock­ing on Ma’s door. He kept say­ing, ‘Open the door, I am hun­gry, Ma’.”

Mun­sami’s hus­band, Mervyn Mood­ley, told Judge Pres­i­dent Ach­mat Jap­pie that when he and his wife re­turned home later that evening, he had seen Goven­der’s clothes still on the line, so he re­moved them.

“I took off the wash­ing be­cause she would al­ways do the same when we are not home.”

Af­ter re­al­is­ing that the pad­lock on Goven­der’s gate was miss­ing, he said he be­gan call­ing for her but she did not re­ply.

“It was very dark in­side, so I went back in my home, got my cell­phone and put on the torch. I walked through the kitchen and down a small pas­sage to the lounge. I found Ma ly­ing flat on her face on the sofa, her right arm hang­ing to the floor, and her left arm bent across her back. I placed my hand on her back, and I didn’t feel any breath­ing move­ment; her body was cold. I ran out the house scream­ing.”

On Mon­day, state wit­ness Em­manuel Pil­lay, 28, told the court he had met Naicker at a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre in eMkhomazi (Umko­maas) last year. He said they plot­ted their “es­cape”, climbed over two fences and were free.

The next morn­ing they sold some of their clothes and bought two train tick­ets to Dur­ban.

“When we reached Dur­ban, we sold more clothes, then walked to a nearby taxi rank, bought two ‘loops’ of drugs, sug­ars. We smoked them, went back to the sta­tion, and bought two train tick­ets to Phoenix train sta­tion.”

Em­manuel tes­ti­fied that while walk­ing along a road later, Naicker pointed out a yel­low house, say­ing that it was his grand­mother’s home.

He said he was told to wait for him at a nearby sports ground, but af­ter an hour he de­cided to go and look for him at the house.

“I called his name and whis­tled a cou­ple of times. He popped his head out of the door, and gave me hand sig­nals to go back, so I walked back to the grounds, but stood on the edge so I could see if he was re­turn­ing. A few min­utes later I saw him walk­ing up the road with a suit­case.”

When he caught up with him, Naicker had looked “shocked” and kept look­ing around, he said.

“He pulled out R400 from the front of his pants and showed me. I asked him about the TV which I could see through the sides of the suit­case. He said his granny only gave him R400, so he would have to sell the TV for food and to go to Jo­han­nes­burg.”

Em­manuel said that as they were walk­ing down the rail­way line, Naicker had told him he had done “some­thing bad”. “He said he did not know if his granny was dead or alive. I asked him what do you mean. He be­came an­gry and said he did not want to talk about it, and ‘let’s go smoke’.”

Em­manuel said they then went to a place where Naicker bought 10 ‘caps’ of drugs and smoked three.

They then went “to town” where Naicker sold the TV for R800, even though he had wanted R1 200.

The pair ate and booked into a shel­ter for the night.

The next day, when Em­manuel told his friend he was miss­ing his two chil­dren, he said Naicker gave him R20.

“I then made a phone call to one of my girl­friends. I told him (Naicker) I had a white ‘ sugar mummy’ and she was go­ing to meet me back at the train sta­tion in Dur­ban. He did not be­lieve me, so he came with me.

“When we ar­rived I in­tro­duced them, and told her we ran away from the re­hab to­gether. We de­cided we will go spend the day at Botan­i­cal Gar­dens. When we ar­rived, my girl­friend had given me the car keys to keep in my pocket af­ter lock­ing the car,” he said.

He said he re­moved his trousers and had lain on the grass in his shorts for a while, be­fore re­al­is­ing the keys were miss­ing and Naicker was gone.

His girl­friend later told him her two cell­phones which she had in the car were miss­ing, he said.

“When I went back to find Shel­don, he was gone. That was the last time I saw him, un­til to­day in court.”

Naicker’s mother Yano, who lives in Jo­han­nes­burg, was in court on Mon­day.

She told POST she and her fam­ily were deeply sad­dened by the killing and the ar­rest of her son.

“That was my mother and this is my son, I don’t know how to re­act,” she said. “It is a re­ally dif­fi­cult time for our fam­ily… My mother took him in, they were very close, and she al­ways felt sym­pa­thy for him, be­ing her grand­child. We just hope at the end of this or­deal, if he did do the wrong, he must be pun­ished, but we also hope he can get re­ha­bil­i­tated and treated for his con­di­tion.”

Yes­ter­day, a trial- within-a-trial com­menced af­ter Naicker claimed he was given “blank doc­u­ments” by the po­lice to sign and was not ad­vised that he was en­ti­tled to le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

Mari­amma Goven­der was al­legedly stran­gled and found dead in her Phoenix home. Her grand­son is on trial for her mur­der. RIGHT: Ac­cused Shel­don Naicker leaves the Dur­ban High Court on Tues­day.

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