Ex-rugby player cites ‘delusion’ defence

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Independent Newspapers

Former Blue Bulls flank Joseph Ntshongwane in the Durban High Court ,where he is on trial for crimes including murder. Picture: Sibusiso Ndlovu

Durban - Alleged serial killer Joseph Ntshongwana has raised a “delusional disorder” as a defence, claiming he has a “lack of criminal capacity and responsibility” and should be acquitted of the violent murders he is accused of.

The former Blue Bulls flank is on trial at the Durban High Court before Acting Judge Irfaan Khalil, accused of a host of charges including four murders in which three of his alleged victims were decapitated, two attempted murders, rape and kidnapping.

Earlier this year he was found fit to stand trial by Judge Kate Pillay after a mental fitness inquiry during which evidence was led that he suffered from schizophrenia with a bipolar disorder.

But on Monday, in explanation of his plea of not guilty to all charges, his attorney Themba Mjoli, submitted a statement from a psychiatrist, Professor A Gangat, who said he had a delusion disorder and was “beset by delusions of being harmed, poisoned and killed”.

“When the delusions come thick and fast, the person loses control and can become hostile and aggressive, homicidal and extremely violent in this highly charged emotional state,” Gangat said in his report.

“In this world, his delusions and hallucinations become one with the real world. He loses touch with reality. His actions during this psychotic breakdown may not be able to be recalled.

“Patients are usually well groomed and well dressed without evidence of gross disintegration of personality… mental status examinations are remarkably normal… however, they have impaired impulse control.”

Advocate Rea Mina labelled the report as “speculative and of little weight”. She said it appeared that Gangat had not even consulted with Ntshongwana.

Regarding the charges, she said that apart from direct evidence from some who had managed to escape from Ntshongwana, there would also be circumstantial evidence relating to the murders, and DNA evidence linking some of the victims to blood found in Ntshongwana’s car.

She said that the tip of a running shoe had been found next to the hand of a decomposed body that had never been identified. This had been linked to part of a running shoe found in the dog kennel on Ntshongwana’s property. Various other exhibits, including an axe believed to be the murder weapon, had also been found there.

Evidence began with the testimony of two motorists who witnessed the murder and beheading of Thembinkosi Cebekhulu on Kenyon Howden Road in Montclair on the evening of March 20, 2011.

Peter Gauldie and Gildred Donnelly told of how they had seen a man standing over another, chopping him, Donnelly describing it “like someone chopping wood”.

Gauldie said he had seen a small silver or grey car driving away and had later identified Ntshongwana at an identification parade as the driver of the car. But neither man could identify the murderer.

Mhlesi Tholo, the complainant in a charge of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, said he had been walking home along Stirling Road in Montclair on the evening of November 26, 2010, when Ntshongwana, in a silver car, had pulled up next to him and asked him if knew where someone called “Zama” lived.

“I said I didn’t and walked away,” said Tholo.

“I turned back and he struck me on my forehead with a baton… At one stage he was on top of me, striking me. I shouted and a neighbour switched on a house light. He let me go and drove off.”

Tholo said he had been taken to hospital and was unconscious for two days.

Cross-examining, Mjoli put it to him that Ntshongwana suffered from a mental illness “which manifests itself in violence” and that he did not remember the incident.

Tholo replied: “I did not know that.”

Meanwhile journalist Paul Kirk also testified about how his dog had found the body of the unknown man, with no head, near a railway line in Yellowwood Park on April 1 last year.

The case continues on Tuesday. - The Mercury


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