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Durban - A Durban high court judge is none the wiser about the mental capacity of a woman on trial before him for murder because the district surgeon meant to assess her mental status instead pleaded that she be shown mercy.
In a report handed in to Judge Themba Sishi, Dr Savas Antoniades says Sagaree Govender, who is accused of murdering her lover’s wife, “appears to be living hell on earth and suffering continuously”.
“She needs mercy,” he implores.
Govender, 44, from Tongaat, has been in custody along with her co-accused, Cheryl Perumal, 26, since they were arrested for the murder of Elaine Pillay in October 2011.
According to the summary of facts attached to the indictment, Govender was having an affair with Pillay’s husband.
She allegedly enlisted the help of Perumal to lure Pillay to Govender’s house on the pretext that she had broken her leg and needed help.
Once there, they allegedly set upon her, strangling and killing her.
They allegedly put her body in a suitcase and disposed of it at a nearby school.
The trial was supposed to get under way last week, but the judge ordered that Govender be sent to the district surgeon for his opinion on whether she was fit to stand trial or should be referred for mental observation.
Govender saw Antoniades on Tuesday and his report was handed in to court on Wednesday.
In it the doctor noted that the “patient is talking coherently” and then proceeded to ask for mercy.
“From what I understand she is a victim of circumstance and from what I understand not guilty of murder.
“Precious people in her life have been taken away - for example, her brother was murdered, her mother died.
“She had nothing to live for.
“May God have mercy on this human being’s soul.
“Please be gracious and spare her further suffering in the interests of justice.”
The judge declined to comment on the report.
He postponed the matter to Monday, when Perumal is expected to plead and a decision will be made on whether to send Govender for an assessment by another doctor.