Durban - An Inanda father accused of fatally stabbing his 2-year-old son was on Tuesday described by the State as an “exceptionally clever witness” who had tailored his evidence according to the testimony of other witnesses.
Simphiwe Ngetshu, 34, had told the Durban Regional Court that on August 23 last year that at 2.30pm he had been walking in Ryde Place, Durban North, carrying his son, Smangaliso Nhlengetwa, on his shoulders when they were approached by three men.
He said his child was taken into the bushes while he was being robbed. When he went to look for his son, he found him crying and bleeding from the left side of his chest.
Ngetshu had pleaded not guilty to murder and defeating the course of justice by making a false police statement.
Prosecutor Krishen Shah called for a conviction as there had been overwhelming evidence against the accused.
Ngetshu said he had walked for 20 to 30 minutes to his part-time employer’s house, who had lived close to where he said they were attacked, for help.
He claimed he had unsuccessfully tried to stop passing motorists for assistance.
Shah referred to the testimony of Dr Grant Bekker, a general practitioner, who declared the boy dead. He said the child’s body was cold and rigor mortis had already set in. He estimated Smangaliso had been dead for at least six hours.
“This is one tragic incident. No one saw Smangaliso’s father as a suspect until police had taken him home that night and he opened his mouth,” Shah said, referring to Ngetshu’s confession to police, which he claimed he was coerced into making. Ngetshu had confessed he was possessed by evil spirits, driving him to commit the crime.
Shah argued that from the evidence, Ngetshu showed no emotion or any urgency in getting his child to the hospital for treatment, despite two stab-wounds to the chest.
Ngetshu had tried to stop passing motorists, but did not stop for help at other houses, shops and a pharmacy en route to his part-time employer’s house, he said.
Shah referred to Ngetshu being an “exceptionally clever witness”, tailoring evidence. For example, forensic pathologist, Dr Threnesan Naidoo, said there were no tears or holes in the child’s sweater or T-shirt in the area he had been wounded.
Naidoo had concluded that the boy was either not wearing the clothes at the time or they were pulled up. He felt it was more likely the former because there was minimal blood and the sleeve of the boy’s T-shirt was worn inside out - not a natural way of wearing a T-shirt.
In his evidence-in-chief, Ngetshu said when he ran into the bushes to find his son, he noticed the child’s T-shirt was inside out.
His lawyer, Hycenth Mlotshwa, argued that Bekker had only estimated the time of death and that Naidoo had testified that rigor mortis set in quicker in a child than in an adult. Mlotshwa argued that Ngetshu did not stop at other houses because no one was home. His part-time employer testified to Ngetshu looking very shocked and wanting to be taken to the hospital.
“The State’s evidence that the accused was responsible for his son’s death is not sufficient for a conviction,” he said.
Judgment is expected later this week.