Main witness in Durban murder trial gets shot dead in movie-style

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THE main witness in a murder trial that is set to take place in the Durban High Court in January next year, has been gunned down outside his home in Sunford, Phoenix.

He is now the third victim to be shot in attacks believed to be linked to the rivalry between tow truck bosses in the area.

Thavendhren “Joe” Naicker, of Sunford Drive, was the owner of Gypsy Towlines. He was killed on Sunday night, as he returned to his home.

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His uncle Dan Reddy said the attackers, travelling in a white SUV, fired at Naicker’s Nissan tow truck. It is believed the gunmen used high-calibre weapons, possibly R5s or AK47s. Several cartridges were found at the scene.

“Joe took the turn onto his road, when this vehicle suddenly overtook him. The driver made a U-turn and drove toward him. The SUV stopped in front of Joe’s tow truck and two men jumped out of the vehicle and fired as they approached. They then got into the SUV and drove away,” said Reddy.

He added that Naicker had been found slumped over the steering wheel. He had been struck in the arm, hand, abdomen, and head. Paramedics declared him dead at the scene.

Provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker said a case of murder was being investigated by Phoenix SAPS but no arrests had been made. Ettienne Pel, the chairperson of the United Towing Association of South Africa, said turf wars were a serious problem. He said they were liaising with the police to address their concerns.

Naicker was widowed recently and has three young children. He was a witness in two separate killings. Six months ago, in April, Asheel Ramdass, 38, of Regent Park, was murdered. The incident happened while he was waiting on the driveway to enter Naicker’s yard.

Naicker’s son had arrived with Ramdass. The youngster got out of the car and opened the gate. Naicker drove in but, as Ramdass waited to enter, men in a white Toyota Etios opened fire. He was shot in the neck, leg, and abdomen and died moments later.

The suspects have not been found. At the time, Naicker told the POST it was “like history repeating itself ”. He said this because a year earlier, in April 2018, his friend and business parter, Lazarus “Fee” Naidoo, 41, was also killed outside Naicker’s home. Naicker was with him when gunmen in a red VW Polo opened fire on them. Naidoo, the co-owner of Gypsy Towlines and a mini-bus taxi owner, was shot seven times in the back and died on his way to hospital.

Four men were arrested and charged with murder, and unlawful possession of a firearms and ammunition. Indictments were served on them recently, in the Durban High Court, and the trial was set down for January next year. Naicker was one of the main witnesses. It is believed he was placed in witness protection a few weeks ago. His funeral is expected to take place today.

TRIPLE murder accused Colin Pillay could hear his fate in the Durban High Court today (Wednesday).

Pillay, 47, is accused of killing his former lover, Jane Govindsamy, and her two daughters, Denisha, 22, and Rackelle, 16, at their Tasvir Mansions home in Phoenix last year.

During closing arguments on Monday, senior State advocate Cheryl Naidu told Judge Philip Nkosi she believed they proved their case against Pillay.

She urged him to consider evidence, which included cellphone records, DNA evidence, CCTV footage, as well as the results from each post-mortem report before handing down judgment.

Naidu said it was clear that Pillay entered the family’s home and killed them because he was angry and frustrated that Govindsamy ended their relationship.

“The only person calling and messaging to initiate a conversation was Colin, and from cellphone records, it can be seen that although she could not control his SMSes, she never took his calls. If their relationship was so secure, as he claimed, how does he account that they had no communication? Cellphone extractions show there were problems.”

She said despite spending nine years together, Pillay believed he was being kicked to the kerb, and that was what spurred him on.

Naidu said Denisha was her father’s daughter and did not approve of what was going on between Govindsamy and Pillay when she moved back into the family home. This made it difficult for Pillay to see Govindsamy, who was married. “The anger and frustration at what he lost were visible on the injuries he inflicted.”

She added all three deceased had evidence of defensive wounds and even Pillay sustained injuries consistent with the same. “The accused had scratches consistent with someone having long nails. All the victims had long nails. They also sustained defence wounds.”

Naidu mentioned the evidence presented by witness Mohammed Akeim Hoosen. He testified he heard a little girl scream shortly before 3pm.

“Rakelle is a young female. There is little difference between the scream of a teen and that of a child. When the accused tried to assault her, she fought back and defended herself, and when he punched her, she screamed, which resulted in him strangling her.”

Naidu said Rakelle’s DNA was found on Pillay. She also said Pillay failed to answer basic questions in court and often changed his version of events. Naidu said Pillay was adamant that Govindsamy had been on her period on the day of the incident.

“He kept saying Jane was sick. She was on her period. How would he know that? He would only know if he was there. She had not been communicating with him, so she would not have given him such personal information.

“According to the doctor who examined Jane, she had a sanitary towel on. However, it was clean. The person who murdered Jane left her top pants button open, meaning they saw the sanitary towel and stopped. Why would he claim she had been on her period if it was not him?”

Legal Aid attorney, Amanda Hulley, argued that Pillay saw Govindsamy for at least five minutes when he got a chance to pop by the house.

She also said Govindsamy and Pillay were still a couple.

“When she confided in her colleague on the morning, she said he was her boyfriend. She could have said ex-boyfriend, but she said, boyfriend.”

Judge Nkosi said he had a lot to consider before handing down judgment.

“I am adjourning the matter to Wednesday. However, if I am unable to deliver the judgment, it will roll over to Thursday.”

– The Post


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