Expert ‘flabbergasted’ by testimonyComment on this story
Durban - A specialist psychiatrist giving evidence in the murder trial of former Blue Bulls rugby player Joseph Phindile Ntshongwana said he was “flabbergasted” by the earlier testimony of a psychologist, the High Court in Durban heard on Tuesday.
Dr Bertram Brayshaw was one of the psychiatrists who assessed Ntshongwana in the wake of his arrest for allegedly committing four murders.
The victims were hacked to death with an axe, with one man's head decapitated, while another was found hanging by a thread.
Brayshaw told the court he had read that psychologist, Professor Abubuker Gangat, called by the defence in January, had said Ntshongwana was suffering from a delusional disorder.
“I disagree a great deal with it,” Brayshaw said.
“We reserve the words delusional disorder for people a bit different, usually of an older age.
“People function pretty well, but delusions are beliefs that have no basis in fact. These people don't usually get involved in crimes.”
He had seen more than 1000 cases and only a very few crimes had been associated with mental illness.
None of those suspects had denied the crimes, stating they felt they were doing the right thing.
Ntshongwana in comparison said he had no recollection of the offences, which Brayshaw said he did not “find convincing”.
It was very unlikely that he had amnesia over the four months, the period in which the alleged murders took place.
It was clear Ntshongwana had a history of mental illness and according to the medication found in his bedroom after his arrest, he had not been taking his medication.
When Brayshaw assessed Ntshongwana, he did not have information about the alleged offences, but having learned about the evidence, he felt the accused probably would have known that killing people was wrong.
There was no connection between Ntshongwana's mental state and the alleged crimes, he said.
Brayshaw said Gangat had testified that a delusional disorder never went away “and this is not so”.
Gangat had further mentioned the disorder may affect memory, with the opposite being true, as people with delusional beliefs had unusually sharp memories, Brayshaw said.
Bradshaw, who found Ntshongwana suffered from a schizo-affective disorder of the bipolar type, considered the Ntshongwana highly intelligent.
Ntshongwana has denied murdering Thembelenkosini Cebekhulu on March 20, 2011, Paulos Hlongwa two days later, Simon Ngidi the next day and an unidentified man some time that week.
He has also pleaded not guilty to two counts of attempted murder, kidnapping and raping a woman in November 2010 and assault with intent to do bodily harm.